A Year of Change

Published August 14, 2020

Amid our challenges with the pandemic and life-altering ways to conduct business, we at the Chehalis Foundation have been pushing forward with our projects and our work for Chehalis.

We have had some change in our organization. After many years we are going to say goodbye to a few of our board members who are ready to transition to other projects. In our small town, we won’t be losing them completely. The impact of their collective volunteer work for the Chehalis Foundation is nothing short of tremendous. This news update doesn’t provide the space for us to properly thank them, but we do want to provide a few Chehalis Foundation highlights about each of them.


Chehalis Foundation Board Member 2003-2020, Treasurer 2008-2018

As the fundraising lead for the Gail and Carolyn Shaw Aquatic Center, she helped the foundation raise $2.2 million and volunteered countless hours.  She was named The Chronicle’s 2014 Person of the Year, being recognized for her extraordinary success in bringing the pool project to such a wonderful conclusion.

Recreation Park needed her, and once again she volunteered to spearhead the fundraising effort for the new Penny Playground and Chehalis Sports Complex. These two distinct fundraising projects in Rec Park were seamlessly managed by Connie and with a better than expected outcome, raising $2.4 million. This effort has provided the city with all that it needs to have a stunning renovated Recreation Park. Her skills at connecting donors to the right community project, and her attention to the details of good stewardship are amazing. Thank you, Connie.


Chehalis Foundation Board Member 2009-2020, Vice President 2010 -2020

Denny joined the board in 2009  and soon after became Vice President where he actively served with pleasure until June 2020. He has been a constant presence; helpful and generous. He is someone that the Chehalis Foundation  could rely on for any project that was undertaken. His positive energy is infectious and his commitment to our community is unwavering. Denny has participated in all Chehalis Foundation projects, both education and city related.  He has helped spearhead our successful events.  Most recently, Denny took a lead in the fundraising and planning efforts in Recreation Park where he really demonstrated his passion for our community, in particular our youth. We thank Denny greatly for his thoughtful, consistent, friendly leadership and dedication over the years.


Chehalis Foundation Board Member and College Scholarship Program Director 2013 – 2020

The Chehalis Foundation began awarding college scholarships to W.F. West High School graduates in 2013,and that year $20,000 was distributed across 15 graduates. As of this year, Chehalis Foundation Scholarships have been awarded to over 400 students totaling almost $2M. Dr. Smith has been central to building our scholarship program and is responsible for its success. Growing our funds to over 27 funds today, she has single-handedly brought in alumni, family memorials, groups and individuals with her passion for education and her support for her beloved W. F. West where she was principal from 1989 to 2011. Thank you Dr. Smith, for all you’ve done.


Recently we voted in two new board members, Robert Pehl, JR Jr. and Kirby White. Both were raised in Chehalis and are exceptional additions to our volunteer team of leadership and support.


Vice President, I-5 Cars

The Foundation elected Robert Pehl, JR, Jr. to its board of directors in February. He is a 2011 Honors graduate of W.F. West High School and attended the University of Washington on a baseball scholarship.  In 2014 he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals and played three seasons in the Royals’ minor league system before returning home to Chehalis. Robert is the vice president of I-5 Cars, a Chehalis-based, family-owned business. He joined the Chehalis Foundation board because of his family’s strong belief in reinvesting in their own community. In recent years they’ve helped with the library, the pool, and the ball fields. It is Robert’s goal to help make the community he lives in, and where he grew up, the best place it can be.


Design Supervisor, Braun NW

Kirby was born in Chehalis, attended W.F. West and Centralia College, then received an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. Commissioned as an Intelligence Officer, his active duty career was served at Fort Hood, TX and culminated in a deployment to Afghanistan.

Kirby and his wife Leanna moved back to Chehalis in 2017. They have two children and look forward to raising them in Chehalis. He joined our board to help the Chehalis Foundation ensure that the programs that positively impacted him growing up, remain in place for the children of the future.


The success and growth of the foundation had us looking for just the right candidate to be our Executive Director. This Spring we did a search in our community and we’re so happy to welcome

Jenny Collins as the first Executive Director of Chehalis Foundation.

Collins is the former executive director of the Visiting Nurses of Lewis County, a position she had held since 2010. She knows our community and we are sure that many of you know her. Jenny has been serving our community with compassion and essential human services for over 20 years. She’s served on several non-profit boards and led over 30 fundraising events and campaigns.

Jenny has expressed her excitement about her new role by sharing the following; “Chehalis Foundation’s volunteer board is a team of outstanding professionals who share core values and have a great depth of experience working within community. I am so excited to work with them and expand their good work and positive impact on the Chehalis community that they have been building over the past 17 years. The Chehalis Foundation is a thriving community foundation and I look to the future with joy.”

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