Joan Whittington Welsh

Although I was only with you for one year (58-59) Pomona has remained a treasured place and time for me and an educational standard. I cherish my memories and definitely remember many of you. I especially liked my English classes with Prof. Edgar Racey and Glee Club with Bill Russell.

My life has been a wonderful, and quite blessed, adventure. “Let what you do, be what you love” (Sufi saying) has luckily been my mantra…not to say there haven’t been difficult times! I transferred to the University of Colorado from Pomona to be with my future husband. I finished my degree in English there. I was “Joanie Air Force Wife” for 7 years, moved around the west with my then rescue helicopter pilot husband, had 3 marvelous children (2 boys, 1 girl), now all in their 30’s…yikes, my oldest just turned 40!!! After the Air Force I moved with my family to Boulder, CO (’67) where I was “Joanie earth mother and community volunteer”. Oh yes, and I played a lot of tennis in those days, too! Loved that competition!

In 1979 I became the founder and Executive Director of the Boulder County Safehouse for Battered Women and their Children. It’s a long story about how all that evolved, but the short version is I volunteered in a Women’s Resource Center and found there were many abused women for whom there were no services. I led a group that developed services. During that time I also founded and chaired the Colorado Domestic Violence Coalition and also chaired the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in Washington D.C. I found that direct service to these families necessitated working for social change and that required working in coalition with other providers.

In 1981 I took an Outward Bound sailing course in Penobscot Bay, Maine, for my vacation. I became excited about the pedagogy of Outward Bound and what it could teach about “being more than you know”. I felt it could help the women and children I worked with at the shelter, and I began doing volunteer work with the Colorado Outward Bound School to raise money for our shelter moms and kids to attend. Having grown up in Fresno and having spent summers in the Sierra, plus doing a lot of mountaineering in Colorado, I began to instruct courses in my spare time for Colorado OB. (Oh yes, I was divorced about this time, too…’82). This led to my full time work in Outward Bound, first as Associate Director for California for Pacific Crest Outward Bound (based in Santa Monica); then as Associate Director for Colorado OB (based in Denver); and lastly, here as President of the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School based in Rockland, Maine (1991-2001). During my tenure as President we became the largest Outward Bound School in the world (there are approximately 32, and I was ALWAYS the only woman President/CEO, a sad commentary on Outward Bound)! It was a great 20-year involvement.

Those 20 years provided opportunities for wonderful adventures… kayaking in Baja; trekking in Nepal, rafting in the western rivers of Oregon, Utah and Colorado; climbing Colorado’s fourteeners as well as Mt. Kenya and Kilimanjaro; and sailing, kayaking and canoeing the waters of Maine, Florida and Maryland. Plus I worked with wonderful staff and participants.

After a year off, during which I traveled to Wales and China, sailed for 6+ weeks and gardened, kayaked and swam here at home, I have just become the Director of Academic and Student Affairs for Rockport College, a small conservatory arts college that is an off shoot of the Maine Photographic Workshops. We offer AA, MFA and a Certificate Program in film, photography and digital media. ( It’s interesting and fun…I love these kids with spiked, purple hair and the creative and interesting faculty!! Plus I can walk to work and have summers off.

After 10+ years, I am loving Maine. Although I am a Westerner through and through, I expect to stay in Rockport for a very long time. I love the light, the water, the contemplative atmosphere, the smallness, which means the whole state is one community and where one can work well for social change! (I’m on far too many Boards!) However, I would love to quit work in a few years, buy a 45-55’ catamaran and sail around the world for a few years…I just need a good partner who is a mechanic to help! My children and grandchildren (5) are marvelous and I am most grateful for them and the many friends spread around the world who keep my life full of love. I’m most grateful for my good luck and fortune and Pomona served as some sort of springboard for it all in those very early years.

My best to all, Joan