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Chinook Says Hello to New CEO Nicolette Wegner

As 2020 draws to a close, Chinook Enterprises opens the door to a new CEO, welcoming  Nicolette (Nikki) Wegner to lead the company.

Nikki Wegner poses with Chinook's Grounds Maintenance Crew
Nikki Wegner poses with Chinook’s Grounds Maintenance Crew

Nikki brings a wealth of experience to the position, having served most recently as Associate Director at Trillium Employment Services based in Tacoma and Board Chair of Community Employment Alliance (CEA), a statewide consortium that advocates for employment opportunities on behalf of people with disabilities. 

Chinook Enterprises is a forty-year-old social enterprise located in Mount Vernon, Washington. The organization was founded in 1980 by Rob Martin with the mission is to assist people with disabilities in finding and retaining gainful employment. What makes Chinook unique is its ability to self-fund its mission by using profits from its manufacturing and grounds maintenance divisions to help pay for employment services and administrative support. Over the years, Chinook’s mission-based efforts have influenced thousands of local families’ lives through job creation and community connection.

But the past 48 months have been challenging. In 2019, Chinook experienced a sharp decline in aerospace manufacturing projects due to the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max. Significant Covid-related job losses immediately followed in 2020. Despite the impacts of what feels like the second wave of an economic tsunami, employees and management alike report that sprits remain amazingly bright. 

“Nikki’s leadership could not be more perfectly timed,” said Board Chair Barbara Leander. “We have full confidence that Nikki is the right person to lead Chinook through 2021 and beyond.” 

Nikki plans to use her statewide and national connections to bolster service offerings in the form of employment readiness training and to continue the diversification of Chinook’s manufacturing partnerships. “I’m inspired by the mission-focused energy here,” said Wegner. “We will continue to build on Chinook’s strong foundation to lead us into a bountiful new year.”

Nikki makes the move from Tacoma to Mount Vernon with her husband, Steven, twin five-year-olds Indiana and West, as well as Winnie, a Boston Terrier. In her free time, Nikki enjoys hiking with her family, oil painting, knitting, and exploring local breweries. She is also an avid volunteer with her local Rotary club (soon to be the Mount Vernon Rotary).

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