Announcing the 3rd Annual WOW! Stories 2014


We are pleased to announce the 2014 WOW! Stories line up.  Please join us on Saturday, March 8th at WICA for riveting presentations from some of Whidbey Island’s most amazing women: Lisa Kois, Georgia Gerber, Sue Taves & Vicky Brown, Colleen Chartier, Chéri Olney, Sue Frause, Beth Smith, Jeanne Strong, Val Easton, Autumn Preble, Lynnaea Lumbard, Dyanne Sheldon, Amy Wheeler, Audrey Neubauer, Kathy McLaughlin McCabe, Cynthia Jaffe and Erica Rayner-Horn.

Plus remarkable performances by Margaret Storer & Linda Morris, Karin Blaine & Siri Bardarson, Bekah Zachritz and Whidbey Island Dance Theatre and fun group activities led by Judith Walcutt and Daunne Zinger.

Although WOW! Stories is a perfect mother-daughter or girlfriend event, men will also enjoy the conference and are very welcome!

Join us after the closing performance for a no-host wine bar reception from 3:00-4:00 pm.

Your $25.00 ticket to this Whidbey Island Center for the Arts benefit includes a locally-made box lunch.  Snacks and refreshments will also be avaialble for purchase from W.I.N.

Tickets available through the WICA box office at 221-8268 or .

Don’t put off buying your ticket—the show will sell out!

Brought to you by Seriously Fun Productions: Diana Lindsay, Rene Neff, Lynn Willeford, Heather Racicot & Shannon Arndt



Video Now Available!

We are so fortunate and honored to share video of the WOW presenters  with you — from both 2013 and our inaugural 2012 talks.  This is made possible by the generous support from Whidbey TV, as well as community support from many other local businesses and supporters who purchased ads in the event program last year.

Please join us in thanking Whidbey TV and friends, especially George Henny, Chis Gabriel, Patricia Friedman, Caven Keith and Clancy Dunigan for endless hours and skilled expertise in making the videos. And most importantly, thank you to all our past and future presenters for sharing your stories and for inspiring us all.

So sit back, relax and watch the amazing WOW Stories again and again.  Laugh, cry, be moved and share your passion.


Click on the thumbnail of the presenter you want to watch from the Home Page; browse the Presenters Page; or simply search for their name om the site search bar.


Thanks again Whidbey TV for your support!


Y-WE: Why not you?

Two of our WOW! Stories speakers, Peggy Taylor (2012) and Leslie Cotter (2013) are deeply engaged in Young Women Empowered (Y-WE), a Seattle-area arts-based mentorship program that could be a good fit for South Whidbey as well. Many of our daughters have benefited from close relationships with older women in the community—their “aunties,” so to speak. That amazing artist Aleah Chapin has already immortalized her own Whidbey aunties in award-winning paintings. But what of the girls who don’t have those connections?

Peggy is quite experienced in starting programs that use arts-based activities to teach leadership skills to youth, as a founder of the Power of Hope summer camps, the Partnership for Youth Empowerment Global facilitator-training program, and now Y-WE. Leslie, a psychiatrist, trained as a facilitator through PYE, and is both a Y-WE mentor and board president. They both understand that heart and soul and passion are as much a part of leadership as planning and organizing.

“We wanted to create an organization that turned on its head the idea that girls are bitchy and mean,” Peggy says. “We want everyone to feel supported and held, to feel that we’ve all got their backs.” Leslie adds, “And we wanted to change the idea that it’s a bad thing that girls are emotional. In fact, that’s their core competence. It’s a real skill to be able to feel and sense things and then articulate what you feel clearly.”

Young Women Empowered has evolved over the three years of its existence as the founders and mentors learned what worked best. This past year about 50 young women age 12-18 participated in one of two tracks—a relationship-based leadership program or a theater program done in partnership with the Seattle Rep. The leadership program had 20-30 girls and 10-20 mentors at any one meeting. “We used to have one-on-one mentors,” Leslie says, “but it turns out the girls didn’t need it or want it, and it was a logistical nightmare for mentors. Now we use a group-mentorship model instead.”


The Y-WE year begins and ends with a weekend retreat, with six monthly Saturday afternoon meetings between them. Y-WE doesn’t have a rigid curriculum—it combines story-telling, creative challenges, projects, fun, and affirmation of who you are for both mentors and mentees.

A typical Saturday meeting begins with a sack lunch and some socializing. A warm-up with a few theater games or other activity, is followed by a group session on a subject such as life coaching, friendship, decision-making, health and sexuality. Then they break up into small groups of 3-4 girls and 2-3 mentors, who facilitate discussion and contribute pieces of their own life experience as appropriate. The girls and women split up for the rest of the afternoon to work on projects in their areas of interest—this year media literacy; conflict resolution; video; cooking/nutrition and cultural awareness; and social justice. Every year girls look forward to Career Day, which brings in women in all sorts of interesting jobs to give keynote talks or lead workshops.

Heather Racicot and I went to Y-WE’s end-of-the-year fund-raising dinner last month at the fabulous Georgetown Ballroom to get a feel for the program. The girls were an extremely diverse group, but were all bright and articulate, and filled with spirit. They talked about how much they had changed in the year they had spent with the program, and what their hopes were now for their futures. Their mentors seemed equally thrilled by the experience. “I love being with that community of girls and women,” Leslie says. “I don’t want to be this busy or this tired, but I get to be with such amazing girls and women.”

What do you think: Should we try to start a mentorship program like on Y-WE on South Whidbey? Is there really the need I sense there is? Can we find girls and women with the desire and time to participate? What’s your take?-–Lynn Willeford

Watch the video from Y-WE to learn more:

News from WOW Presenters:

From time to time we learn about interesting things that our wonderful WOW presenters are doing and will post them here.     Sherryl Christie-Biershenk is extending her talk on The Curse of the Competent Woman in a half  day workshop.


9:30 am -2:30 pm

You can Register online HERE

or email or call 208-949-3906


Share your thoughts of WOW! Stories

It’s almost a week after WOW! and we continue to receive heartfelt emails and calls thanking us for organizing WOW! Stories. It’s as if we simply do not want the conversations and experience to end! And, come on. Let’s be honest. We don’t!

First, let us say that while humbled and appreciative of all your kind words, the “thanks” goes entirely to all of you! You are the inspiration behind all of this. The idea for WOW! was started to hear your stories, to celebrate you. And, Bravo my friends; Bravo!  You delivered!    From the presenters and performers who shared so much of themselves; to the tireless volunteers and support team who welcomed us, nourished us, and made the day possible. And, most importantly, to everyone who attended and came to celebrate.   You are the ones who make this real.Wowmorningstreatchcrop

One of the things that struck me as I looked out from behind the curtain backstage  and wandered Zech Hall at lunch was an overwhelming sense of connection. Did you feel it too?    Sure, many of us came to WOW!  already “connected” through friends, family and colleagues. And, sure, we are connected through this place many of us call home, but I get the sense that it’s something more than that.  I’m having a hard time finding the right words to describe it, but I feel it.  And, it’s awesome.

So, it’s with our sincere appreciation that we we say THANK YOU for making WOW! 2013 amazing. We laughed,  we cried, we dreamed and sat in wonder – and most importantly, we connected.  Thank you for this gift.

Now, your turn.  What was your impression of the day?  Please share your comments below!


And, watch this site for more updates. We hope to share future updates and insights from our presenters. And, thanks to Clancy, Whidbey Tel, and the many people and local businesses that purchased ads in our program,  we’re working on video from the day and can’t wait to share it with you here at our website.  Please stay tuned and join in the conversation. Let us know what’s on your minds, the wonderful Women of Whidbey!


Posters make us happy

Remember when you were a kid and you hung your favorite poster on your bedroom door, just because you could and it made you happy?  Just sayin’…..



WOW! Stories returns to WICA

Last year the audience at the very first WOW! Stories gathering heard from an underwater photographer, an Un-Schooled teen building her own house, the founder of The Giraffe Project, a physician, a police detective, two writers, an electrician, the queen of the simple-living movement, and more. They did yoga, shook their hips with the Zumba Goddess, were entertained with honky-tonk and R&B tunes, and sang together in harmony to end a day full of fascinating stories about the lives of some seemingly ordinary women of Whidbey. It turned out to be true that, as WOW! founder Diana Lindsay says, “Within every Whidbey woman there’s a TED talk.”  And for those who missed it the first time, WOW! Stories 2013 will be coming to the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts March 9th.Dianaspeaking2012

Lindsay explains the origin of WOW! Stories, “One afternoon, while watching the woman’s TED conference on my computer, I realized that the women I most wanted to hear from lived right here on Whidbey,” she says. “I ran the idea of a sort of TED talks featuring women of Whidbey (WOW) by three friends, and within two hours  Rene Neff, Lynn Willeford, and Debora Valis had signed on to help make WOW! Stories happen. And of course, it wouldn’t be South Whidbey, if we didn’t make it a fundraiser so WICA and Whidbey Island Nourishes (W.I.N) were onboard by the second day. We operate with a budget of zero, and all donate our time, because we wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t fun.”

Heather Racicot, now a member of the producing team that puts on WOW! Stories, was in the audience that first year. “The talks and performances were filled with inspiration, deep reflection, passion and even momentary sadness and hilarity,” she says. “I was literally moved to tears by the end of the first WOW! Stories gathering as the audience commenced in song (and usually, I’m not one to sing!)  The entire experience was so meaningful that I felt compelled to help ensure WOW! Stories become a tradition for the Whidbey community in years to come.”

The people in the audience weren’t the only ones moved and inspired by the WOW! experience. Therapist Sarri Gilman was one of the 2012 speakers. “Something extraordinary happened at the first WOW event to all of us–audience, presenters, and producers. Our connection to each other profoundly deepened. My phone rang non-stop for months following this event, the WOW experience opening stories to be told, stories to be heard, continuing for months and months. It still continues now.” Other speakers and performers expressed similar feelings. Each speaker worked with a member of the producing team to create the deepest and most inspiring and entertaining story to tell. In several cases, the very process of thinking through, writing, and presenting their talk led to positive changes in their personal or professional lives.

Since WOW! Stories left the audience begging for more, the show’s producer Seriously Fun Productions—Lindsay, Neff, Willeford, Valis, Mary Fisher and now Heather Racicot–decided to make it an annual tradition. WOW! Stories 2013 will take place Saturday March 9th at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts. Once again it will be a benefit and “friend-raiser” for WICA and Whidbey Island Nourishes (W.I.N.) The day will begin with a coffee and social time at 9:30, followed by a fascinating mix of speakers and performers from 10:00-3:00 with a break in the middle for lunch. Gourmet sack lunches provided by Whidbey Island Nourishes, which was founded by Fisher and friends, are included in the ticket price of $27. The day will end with a no-host wine reception. WOW! Stories makes a great mother-daughter or girlfriend event, and though the house will be full of women, men are also warmly welcomed. “Attending WOW! Stories makes you feel like you’ve just spent an incredible day with your best friends sharing ideas, experiences and advice about the most meaningful and simple things in life,” Racicot says.shelly diane laughing (3)

Speakers at this year’s WOW! Stories range in age from 16 to 90, and include Dana Moffett, Gwen Jones, Elise Miller, Vivienne Hull, Gloria Ferry-Brennan, Sherryl Christie-Bierschenk, Joey Shapiro Key, Christina Parker, Mully Mullally, Alicia Lomne, Kelly Henriot, Gene White, Rene Neff, Ginny Green, Susie Richards, Wendi Barker, Leslie Cotter, and Rose Woods. Among the presenters are teachers, adventurers, scientists, artists, athletes, mothers of disabled children, karate masters, playwrights, and founders of nonprofits. They will be talking about their passions in life—and they won’t always be what you expect.

The individual WOW! talks are from 5-15 minutes in length, and are broken up by both short performances and brief group activities. Among the performers this year will be the mbira group Sarungano founded by Dana Moffett, singer/musician Eleanor Fye, young fiddlers Gabby & Livy Barlow, and actress Shelly Hartle. Alina Frank will provide a demonstration of EFT tapping, and Sommer Albertsen will lead the group in some full-body Nya. Once again the day will close with song, and a reception.

Though the WOW! Stories concept was new last year, the event nearly sold out, so those hoping to score tickets this year should get them from WICA at or 221-8268 sooner rather than later. More information about WOW! Stories 2013 and its presenters and performers can be found at WOW! Stories on Facebook at


Announcing WOW! Stories 2013 Lineup


We are pleased to announce the 2013 WOW! Stories line up of amazing presenters. Please join us on Saturday, March 9th at WICA for riveting presentations from some of Whidbey Island’s most amazing women: Rose Woods, Leslie Cotter, Wendi Barker, Susie Richards, Ginny Green, Rene Neff, Gene White, Kelly Henriot, Alicia Lomne, Mully Mullally, Christina Parker, Joey Shapiro Key, Vivienne Hull, Sherryl Christie-Bierschenk, Elise Miller, Gloria Ferry-Brennan, Gwen Jones and Dana Moffett

Plus enjoy remarkable performances by Shelly Hartle, Gabby & Livy Barlow, Eleanor Fye and Sarungano, and fun activities led by Sommer Albertsen and Alina Frank.

Although WOW! Stories is a perfect mother-daughter or girlfriend event, men will also enjoy the conference and are very welcome! Join us for the no-host wine bar reception afterward from 3:00-4:00 pm.

Your $27.00 ticket to this Whidbey Island Center for the Arts benefit includes a custom lunch from Whidbey Island Nourishes (W.IN.) Tickets are available through the WICA box office at 221-8268 or . Don’t put off buying your ticket—the show will sell out. See you there!

 Brought to you by Seriously Fun Productions: Diana Lindsay, Rene Neff, Lynn Willeford, Debora Valis, Mary Fisher and Heather Racicot