West Marin Community Services welcomes new E.D.

David Briggs
Heather Ivey introduced herself during a free community breakfast two weeks ago.  

On a recent gusty afternoon, Heather Ivey took a stroll to Toby’s Feed Barn from her nearby office at West Marin Community Services to hand-deliver some mail pertaining to the farmer’s market, of which her organization is a fiscal sponsor. It was one of the less strenuous administrative tasks on her day’s docket, but the new executive director said she prefers to be out in the community she serves. 

Ms. Ivey has worked as the associate director of West Marin Community Services since July 2016 and inherited her new position at the start of the new year from Wendy Friefeld, who will remain as an executive consultant. She oversees the general management of the community service organization, which supplies scholarships from its thrift store proceeds to Shoreline Acres Preschool in Tomales and Papermill Creek Children’s Corner in Point Reyes Station, welcomes 8,000 visitors to its food pantry a year and provides emergency financial assistance for car repairs, medical bills and rent. 

Ms. Ivey believes her ability to quickly take on new endeavors while working well with others earned her the job. “I think I showed initiative by taking on different assignments and running with it myself,” she said. “And one thing Wendy always mentioned is that I work well with staff. I’m definitely a people person and I like to make sure relations are good. I think being personable is a big part of this job.” 

One project she worked on was updating the organization’s donor database, which was previously on paper spreadsheets and more difficult to access. (The organization received about $145,000 in donations from hundreds of individuals in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, or about 36 percent of its net income.) Ms. Ivey has since adopted a new online program that tracks information on donors and clients. 

She also simplified the system for managing volunteers and standardized a procedure for tracking registration for the annual Waterdogs swim classes and holiday food and gift programs. Her next administrative update is to switch the group’s online donation system from Paypal to a more flexible and user-friendly service called Stripe. 

Ms. Ivey was raised in Bolinas (her uncle Peter Martinelli owns Fresh Run Farms and her brother Chris Martinelli is a battalion chief for Marin County Fire) and on her off days she’s a paddle instructor for the He’e Nalu Outrigger Canoe Club in San Rafael. She and her husband, Mark, a professional sailor, live in Novato and are expecting their first child this month.  

Before returning to West Marin, she worked as an environmental planner for a firm in Larkspur. She holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of California, Irvine and said her experience in planning helped her learn how to communicate with people living in a rural area. 

“People in West Marin are spread out—in many cases isolated—and there are limited resources available for a lot of them,” she said. “What W.M.C.S. does is try to bridge that gap and be a hub for food and emergency services.” 

The last census indicated Marin’s poverty level was 7 percent, or about 18,468 people.