January, 2017

Our new Executive Director, Zac (right) with friend and motivational speaking mentor, Nate (left)

Our new Executive Director, Zac (right) with friend and motivational speaking mentor, Nate (left)

 

Introducing our new Executive Director: Zac Johnson!

The Goodtimes Project family is thrilled to announce the hiring of our new Executive Director. Zac has been quietly working with the organization for several months to build out our strategic plan and has already met with many of you to better understand how to lead our organization in its goal of ensuring all families affected by childhood cancer can experience a community of hope, joy, and love.

He brings a strong background in leadership on the national non-profit level and has dedicated his life to helping sick kids around the world. He now calls Seattle home and is eager to continue to make a difference in our community.

We asked Zac to take a break from donor meetings and event planning to answer some of the questions we figured you all might have for our new ED:

 

Zac, with his Friend and Inspiration, Mickey. Born with Down Syndrome and a heart defect, Mickey would go on to battle leukemia when she was 7. Now 12 years cancer-free Mickey, will be participating in the Miss Indiana Pageant this year!

Zac, with his Friend and Inspiration, Mickey. Born with Down Syndrome and a heart defect, Mickey would go on to battle leukemia when she was 7. Now 12 years cancer-free Mickey, will be participating in the Miss Indiana Pageant this year!

Q: The first question many people would have — why does The Goodtimes Project need an Executive Director?

A: That’s what originally got me so excited about the job! As you know, Camp Goodtimes has been around for 34 years, but as a charity we’re very new. When The Goodtimes Project was formed to save the Camp after its funding was cut, it was saved by some of the most dedicated volunteers, donors, and families I have ever encountered. In many ways The Goodtimes Project was so successful in “saving” itself, it doesn’t need a traditional Executive Director.

Q: What do you mean by that?

A: Well, many non-profits our size will hire an executive director to “right-the-ship” or even just “keep the ship afloat.” The Goodtimes Project isn’t like other non-profits. It has a community of support so beyond most other charities that the governing volunteer Board felt they were in a position to bring someone on who could lead us in a bold new direction. That was the challenge that drew me to this position.

Q: What is your vision for The Goodtimes Project?

Our new ED, speaking at a conference last year

Our new ED, speaking at a conference last year

A: That all families affected by childhood cancer will be able to experience a community of hope, joy, and love. We will continue to create caring spaces for families to connect and for kids to be kids. Camp is a great way to do that, but we’ll be adding more events and programs to support our community thanks to the generosity of our donors.

Q: How do you plan to engage the Community?

A: We’ll be developing some exciting programming based on feedback from the families we’ve supported in the past, as well as families we hope to support in the future. Of course, new programming will require new fundraising initiatives, but I am confident we have a community ready to get behind this mission.

Q: You have worked at numerous children’s hospitals and most recently oversaw the Youth Marketing division for one of the nation’s largest children’s charities — but what is your connection to camp?

A: Having always been closer to the medical side of Development, I’ve seen what our great US hospitals can do for children, but I’ve also seen what programs like summer camp can do for patients, siblings, and their families. Kids are stronger than they often get credit for, and the more we can help them connect to that strength, by just being kids, the better their outcome during treatment and well into their journey as survivors. Camp has been, and will continue to be, one of the most significant ways we, as a community, can help these families. Luckily for me, when it comes to all things Camp, I’m surrounded by a staff and a core group of volunteers who can teach me everything I need to know about Camp and the magic that surrounds it. My job will be to keep that program going strong while at the same time sharing the hope, joy, and love it represents with families throughout Western Washington and Alaska through a myriad of new programs.

Q: Speaking of Camp- what’s your Camp nickname?

Giant's Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland -- a few miles from where Zac's family lived for generations.

Giant's Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland -- a few miles from where Zac's family lived for generations.

A: The nicknames originally drew me to connect with The Goodtimes Project in the first place! Here was a charity that took its mission seriously, but who didn’t take themselves too seriously. Charity should always be ego-free and everyone involved with The Goodtimes Project lives by that. My nickname is “Irish.” My mom is Irish and I lived in Dublin just last year. More importantly, I imagine it will lend itself to some creative costumes come Camp season!

Q: Outside of work- what are some of your other interests?

A: I’m new to the Seattle area so most of my time outside of work has been spent exploring my new home. I also enjoy reading and writing and am a die hard Chicago Cubs fan… this past season was a dream come true!

Q: Lastly, what are you most looking forward to in 2017?

A: Just being a part of this incredible family. Life’s been kind enough to put me in the right place at the right time. I've managed to work with some inspirational charities, just as they are skyrocketing to bold new heights. This good fortune has allowed me to make a difference to the causes I care about most. I trust that luck will continue in 2017.