Salish Sea Institute receives $300,000 gift to continue its transboundary environmental work

On a sunny summer day last August, Ginny Broadhurst, director of the Salish Sea Institute and Manca Valum, senior director of Advancement for Strategic Initiatives at the WWU Foundation, took a boat ride to visit with Stephanie Solien and Frank Greer on Orcas Island. The topic of conversation was shared concerns for the Salish Sea and the work of the Salish Sea Institute at Western Washington University.

“There are shared problems associated with growth and development across the Salish Sea. The Institute is in a strong position to bring thought leaders and decision makers together to engage in critical conversation about the health of the Salish Sea. We need to work collaboratively towards bolder solutions,” said Broadhurst.

Stephanie Solien is on the Advisory Board of the Salish Sea Institute and has long been an advocate for the Salish Sea. Together with her husband, they have supported a variety of organizations focused on restoring and protecting our marine waters. 

“If we don’t take bolder action, move quickly to do more collaborating with Canada, Tribes and First Nations, we aren’t going to save the Salish Sea. It’s an urgent time. The Salish Sea Institute can really make a difference, doing work that no one else is doing,” Solien said.

In December 2021, the Salish Sea Institute received the first installment of a $300,000 gift from the Greer/Solien Foundation to expand its work on transboundary issues. In a virtual “celebration of thanks,” Greer said, “I see the Salish Sea Institute doing important work to solve problems and it has tremendous potential to do more. We hope that this gift will inspire others to invest in the Salish Sea Institute.” Stephanie added, “through this gift, we’re honored to be part of it.”

The Institute released a State of the Salish Sea report in May 2021, documenting unrelenting environmental pressures to the Salish Sea from the cumulative impacts of global climate change, regional urbanization and impacts across the ecosystem associated with industrialization over the last two centuries. It’s continuing to disseminate the report and work to share the need for greater protection efforts across the ecosystem.

Brian Burton, associate vice president of Academic Affairs at Western, said, “It’s gratifying to know that people so connected with the Salish Sea and so dedicated to its sustainability recognize the value and the good that the Salish Sea Institute does.”

This is the second large philanthropic gift of $300,000 that the Institute has received since Broadhurst was hired in 2017 as its founding firector. The first was an anonymous gift that funded the writing of the State of the Salish Sea report and helped to invest in Salish Sea Studies classes at WWU.