Gregory Malcolm makes his way past the row of summer campers, with their water bottles, toys and finished robot drawings, as they await pickup from parents.
The kids, he says, have always been his favorite part of the job at Encompass.
He’s not specifically a teacher or a specialist. Until yesterday, Malcolm’s role at Encompass was always to make sure money flowed in, to keep the programs running and children growing.
Monday, June 30, was his last day as executive director. On Tuesday, Malcolm started a new job, raising funds for the Swedish Medical Center Foundation.
It was six years ago when Malcolm took over as Encompass’ executive director, replacing a retiring Nancy Whitaker in 2008. He had been director of fundraising for six years before that.
The Encompass role “fit so well, the kids being small, and coaching soccer and Little League,” he said. “It was truly a dream job.”
Malcolm’s boys came here for summer camps, preschool and family nights.
“It’s always been part of our family activities,” he said. “As they got older, they worked at summer camps and took Super Sitters classes. I’m proud to say they earned part of their college tuition based on that skill.”
Malcolm still recalls the day he began his journey at Encompass, interviewing for the job with Whitaker and executive director John Stout.
“I remember saying, ‘I’ve got to be honest with you, I usually like to think I’m choosing the organization as much as you’re choosing me. But you had me at hello, because both my children go here. I’ve already trusted you with the most important things in my life.
“I’ve loved this place from day one,” Malcolm said. “It’s done so much for my own family. It’s always going to hold a special place in my heart.”
The big decision
The Swedish Medical Center Foundation recently completed a seven-year, $130 million capital campaign. Through a former colleague, Malcolm learned that the organization was ready for new initiatives.
“They wanted to have someone who was connected to the community here, and had fundraising experience,” he said.
“I’ll be working part-time out of the Issaquah campus,” Malcolm added. “I feel like I’ll be staying local.”
He notified the Encompass board of his Swedish approach three weeks ago, but didn’t announce his decision until the job offer was finalized.
The Encompass board has begun the search for a new executive director. As interim executive director, the board has appointed Nela Cumming, who has served in leadership roles with the organization for six years, most recently as director of pediatric therapy, and has more than 25 years of experience in social services.
“This is an exciting juncture for us,” board president Steve Weaver said. The appointment of Cumming will “ensure strong momentum,” he said.
Weaver credited Malcolm for growing programs, fundraising and community connections on behalf of Encompass.
“We greatly respect the valuable service that Gregory has provided us,” he said. “We know he will be successful in his new endeavors, and we wish him well.”
“Nela is going to be outstanding,” Malcolm said. “She’s a parent, she’s intimately involved in the pediatric therapy services that are the taproot programs, that started (Encompass) back in 1966. She is well versed in keeping the programs that help children and families at the core of the decision-making process.”
Malcolm says he’s leaving the nonprofit in great shape.
“We have three relatively strong legs of the fundraising stool. Part being fundraising, second being fees and tuition; third is government grants and contracts. It’s a very healthy model.”
As for a permanent replacement, Malcolm said he’s sure the board “will be looking for someone with local ties who has served the organization well.”
“I’ve really loved collaborating with the executive team here,” he said. “We’ve built an organization that prides itself on excellence.... If we do something, we’re going to be deeply passionate about it, we make it the best we can... and there’s going to be a resource engine to fund it. We always kept the children and families in mind.”
“Usually, you don’t find an organization like this in a community this size,” Malcolm said. “It’s a testimony to this community that it sees an organization like this as a community center and gathering spot for families in all situations.”
Malcolm served two years as Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce President, leaving the board two years ago.
The Malcolm family remains in North Bend. Gregory plans to continue in his role as a Special Olympics golf coach in the Valley.
“I’ll be attending galas and keeping in touch,” he said. “I still plan on supporting the (Encompass) organization as a volunteer and a donor.”
He’s proud of Encompass, and noted how the organization has accumulated Best of the Valley nonprofit awards for years.
Leaving was a hard choice to make.
“You can’t invest 12 years of your life without feeling a personal impact,” he said. “There are very few opportunities I would trade for this one. The organization I’m going to is world class.”
The new job deepens Malcolm’s fundraising focus.
“What appeals to me is not only servicing the entire organization through corporate relations, but through the work in Issaquah, it’s going to be similar, in that they built that facility not just to be a healthcare facility, but a community gathering place. Like what we’ve tried to do here in Encompass.”
A celebration is planned to thank Malcolm for his leadership; details will be announced.