Mount Si Senior Center recently welcomed a new executive director, Susan Kingsbury-Comeau.
“A large part of what I will be doing is fundraising for the senior center, which is really something new in the executive director role,” Kingsbury-Comeau explained over the din of seniors on the center’s Wii bowling team, playing outside her new office. “What’s great is that I’ve been a fundraiser with the Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation.”
Kingsbury is finishing up her two-year run as volunteer president of the foundation this month, and has spent the last seven years administering grants and scholarships for the Bellevue College Foundation. She said her fundraising experience was a skill the senior center intentionally searched for in candidates for the position.
The center plans to raise money for renovations to “spruce up” the interior and, ultimately, construct a new building for the thrift store to free up some room in its current space.
“The Baby Boomer generation’s getting older,” Kingsbury-Comeau began, “people are aging and there’s a tremendous growth in senior population that will be hitting senior centers very soon and we need to be ready for that.”
As for the future fundraising projects, she said the center’s planning another “Fashionation” senior fashion show in the fall, but there are no other concrete concepts just yet.
Kingsbury-Comeau described the energy of the center as like a student union and ticked off the countless programs and classes people ages 50 and up can access: Wii bowling, knitting, quilting, exercise classes and community lunches that serve an average of 700 people a month.
She described her seniors as “amazing” and crucial community assets because of the “astounding” amount of volunteer hours they contribute.
“Our senior center is (here) to provide the opportunity to expand their world,” she said. “That’s been pretty much a through-line through my life. If you’re talking about kids and education, it’s about expanding their worlds through education… and senior centers are about expanding their worlds and leveraging their life experiences to benefit the community.”
Kingsbury-Comeau has lived in downtown historic Snoqualmie for seven years — her anniversary passed on June 5 — and said working in her own community after spending years commuting to Bellevue is “icing on the cake.”
“This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in the entire world, and I want to do everything I can to make it the most wonderful place for every citizen here.”
A graduate of the University of Washington, Kingsbury-Comeau later earned a master’s degree in sociology from the same institution, working as assistant vice president for Citibank during her 12-year stint in New York City prior to graduate school.
Her hobbies include volunteering and cheering on her 5-year-old son, Damien, at BMX and little league tournaments.
“I’ve had a very rewarding life and find this to be probably one of the best phases of life so far… I’ve packed a lot of living into 50 years. I’ve experienced so many things in the world, my view of the world is very expansive and I think that anyone who wants to be a part of the world should have an opportunity to get involved with a senior center, school or community center, to go and engage in the world… and that’s very life affirming.”
As a woman tackling big projects in the Valley, Kingsbury-Comeau said networking organizations like the local Women in Business, Chamber of Commerce, the Schools Foundation and PTSAs are tremendous resources for women who want to plug into their community.
“For women who are looking for positions in the Valley,” she began, “you’ve got to find something that you’re passionate about and (then) go out and build whatever skill set you need to get it done. It may not be a short-term turnaround but I think you need to have a plan. And you need to be a self-starter if there isn’t something that you can plug into, then start something.”
Susan Kingsbury-Comeau, center, with Mount Si Senior Center volunteers and staff.