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Cheers to Haley Hanson's 15 Years

Chances are if you’re reading this blog post, you know Haley in some capacity.

Maybe you listened to the gasping breaths of gray whales coming up for air together on the shore of Magdalena Bay. Or refined EPI’s strategic plan above the chorus of the jungle at Pacuare Reserve. Or you’re like me and have had the pleasure of working alongside Haley in EPI Missoula’s tight-knit community. Whether you’ve known Haley in the field, in the office, or on a video call, you know Haley has poured every fiber of her being into making EPI the reputable organization it is today.

In April 2024, Haley will wrap up her long and outstanding career at EPI. We are proud to announce she is beginning a new chapter as the Executive Director of MUD (Missoula Urban Demonstration Project)! While none of us fully know what EPI looks like without Haley, we know that she’s set us up for success to grow and thrive in her absence.

"I could write a book about Haley's impact on EPI, our staff, our programs, our materials, our website, our....everything. But the most beautiful thing about Haley, and perhaps what sums up that impact best, is how caring she is. Her passion for the mission and the people sparkles through all that she touches. I am honored to be able to call her a friend for the past 15 years and I look forward to seeing where her unending talents take her next," Kimi Brevik, EPI's Medical Review Coordinator.

I’d love to speak to the legacy Haley has left with EPI’s teachers, students, donors, Board

Members, and program partners over the last 15 years because believe me, it’s impressive. However, the role I can best speak to is from personal experience of having Haley as my direct supervisor, dear friend, and role model over the last two years. Those years may be a small blip on the screen of her career at EPI, but I’ve learned a tremendous amount about leadership and life from Haley during that time.

So please, read on about the top three lessons she’s taught me. Maybe you’ll learn something from her, too.

1. Fun in the workplace is non-negotiable.

Whether she's encouraging everyone to shut their laptops and grab an inner tube for floating the river or giving out miscellaneous objects spray painted in glittery gold as staff appreciation trophies, Haley stops at nothing to ensure we laugh at work. An underrated workplace requirement, having fun is what stands out to me above all else when I think of what Haley brings to EPI.

2. Employees are people and people have lives.

Haley is the hardest-working person I’ve ever met, but she does not hesitate to extend time and grace to team members who need it. For example, she granted me a couple of days of “maternity leave” when I became a parent to my dog. You read that correctly—my dog. I spent the initial days of being a first-time dog parent adjusting to the fur baby in the house rather than silently panicking about my “new normal” in the workplace.

3. Getting into the field is what makes the EPI magic happen.

EPI's existence is built on the foundation of field-based experiences. Haley sees place-based education's transformative value on our students and teachers and recognizes those moments are just as important for staff. When I started at EPI, I couldn’t believe that within the first few months of employment, I’d be conducting an invasive starfish census off a desert island in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Connecting with nature and engaging with EPI’s mission in the field recharges staff more than anything, and no one recognizes or supports that more than Haley.

Since 2008, Haley has given this organization her all. During her most recent role as Co-interim Executive Director, she’s made EPI even more equitable and inclusive, leaving the organization in better shape than when she started. While everyone at EPI will sorely miss her steady leadership, genuine care, sharp humor, and handmade ceramic gifts, we can't wait to see how her years of non-profit experience will further another incredible mission.

"Haley, you have been more than a co-director; you have been a mentor, a friend, and a beacon of strength and wisdom. Your compassionate leadership and unwavering commitment to our mission have not only shaped EPI but have also profoundly impacted me. I am grateful for every moment of collaboration, every challenge we faced together, and every success we celebrated. Your guidance has been a guiding light, helping me navigate through the toughest of times. I am eternally thankful for your support, friendship, and the countless lessons you've imparted," Miguel Fuentes, Co-interim Executive Director.

Let us all extend a heartfelt and widespread thank-you to Haley and her 15 years of shaping EPI. The goodness of this organization is what it is large in part because of her tireless dedication and EPI will forever be better because of it. Thank you, Haley!


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