Board of Directors
Mary Letson, Founder & Chair
When Mary isn’t running her Bowen Island training studio (Positively Fit), she’s busy creating and nurturing community athletic events for good causes. For 20+ years, Mary has organized events that encourage people to nail their goals and have fun, all while contributing to a worthwhile fundraising effort. A breast cancer diagnosis in 2012 forced a new kind marathon upon her and from this experience comes – SwimBowen, a way to give back to Bowen Islanders enduring cancer treatment. Mary coordinated Bowen Island’s Run for the Ferry 1999 – 2001, created and led Bowen Island’s Triathlon for Community House Arts Centre 2007 – 2009, the Reindeer Run 2007 – 2011 for the Island Christmas Hamper Fund, and Aaron’s Run 2010 – 2013 to honour a 19 year old boy’s life tragically lost, supporting The Aaron Sluggett Memorial Scholarship.
Mary Lynn Machado, Vice-Chair
Although a Bowen Island enthusiast since the 90’s, Mary Lynn’s film industry career kept her in Los Angeles until 2014. After almost 30 years in visual effects, Mary Lynn made a big career change and now works as a realtor on Bowen! Excited to join the inspirational team at SwimBowen, she grew up in a family where volunteerism was a way of life. Currently, Mary Lynn’s community involvement includes the Bowen Island Arts Council’s Visual Arts Committee, the municipality’s Public Art Advisory Committee, and every year she contributes a painting to the annual ‘Mini Gala’ fundraiser. The enthusiasm of the participants in the inaugaural SwimBowen event and the subsequent fundraising success was so inspiring! Mary Lynn can’t wait to get her feet wet with the SwimBowen community!
Deb Thomson, Secretary
A resident of Tunstall Bay for 22 years, Deb had never seen anything more inspiring as the inaugural SwimBowen event (that took place in July 2018!). Deb served on several education-related boards while raising two sons and she’s absolutely delighted with the opportunity to join SwimBowen’s board! When not hitting the gym in preparation for the 2nd annual fundraising event, Deb works as the operations and HR coordinator for a clean energy think-tank. Deb’s background in teaching, counselling, non-profit leadership & program design informs her service-oriented approach to supporting creative thinkers in both her job and volunteer work.
Cathryn Robertson, Director, Cancer Care Fund
A year of chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer left Cathy depleted. She was determined to find her strength again post-treatment and sought support through massage therapy at the Bowen Island Wellness Centre, yoga at The Yoga Loft and swimming with SeaHiker. Cathy can now swim long distances in the ocean, has regained strength through her dedication to yoga classes and was supported in working through treatment trauma with the help of her massage therapist. Despite the difficulty of the treatment, she was fortunate to have the means to pay for all these services. We don’t often speak of the financial burden that is part of cancer treatment and Cathy is grateful that SwimBowen has started this conversation, extending a hand to support cancer patients invest in their health during treatment.
Wendy Alexander, Director, Cancer Care Fund
An architect by trade, Wendy moved to Bowen Island in 2012 and balances designing houses and renovations with any opportunity to get out onto or into our Salish Sea. Her personal experience with several losses in her family to cancer makes her sensitive to the needs of those living with the disease. SwimBowen is a way to combine her love of the sea with her compassion for those undergoing cancer treatments.
Katherine Gish, Director, Community Sponsorship
A Bowen Island resident since 1995, Katherine is passionate about this island we all call home. Her favourite motto is Spirit of Community and she is super excited and thrilled to be a part of SwimBowen. Mary and Katherine have worked on events together since 1997 and they have loved every minute of it. Katherine loves being a part of fun, inspiring and impactful initiatives, and of course, she’ll be there on the beach cheering you on!
Ellen White, Treasurer (Bio coming soon!)
Annual Event Support
Elliot has been swimming his whole life and found success in his college years competing in swims ranging from 400m to 10km. He is a multi-time NCAA champion and represented Canada in the FINA open water world championship in 2005. Since then, he has picked up train running, triathlon and a a new type of adventure sport called, SwimRun. Outside of sport, Elliot is an Engineering Manager and spends his days building teams and solving technical problems. This year Elliot is once again designing our race course, leading race day timing and supporting swimmer safety. He’ll see you at the finish line!
As a new resident to Bowen Island, Jill has been excited to get involved with a cause near and dear to her heart. She cares deeply about health, wellness, self-care and our community, and when she met Mary, she knew SwimBowen would be a great fit! By day, Jill is a people and culture leader in the tech industry. She’s very invested in supporting people in dreaming big, having fun and making a huge impact. This year Jill will be supporting event communications, social media and swimmer registration.
Cassandra moved to Bowen in 2016 and since then has been excited to get involved with local causes she cares deeply about. By day, Cassandra leads communications and social media at the Orchard Recovery Center. By night, she’s throwing axes with Bowen Logger Sports and all about that #MomLife. She’s passionate about creating positive change within non-profit organizations. From working with stigmatized groups to supporting impoverished communities to volunteering with local projects, Cassandra is excited to be a part of sharing SwimBowen’s story. Keep an eye out for her at the event with a video camera in hand and a smile on her face!