A Long and Fruitful Relationship
After spending years working in New York and Connecticut, Sandie Phipps decided to return to New Hampshire and enroll in Antioch University New England’s Environmental Administration master’s program. She’d always felt a strong connection to the environment, so she made the decision to move to the Monadnock Region in 1996 to embark on this new venture.
Because internships were a key component of the Antioch program, Sandie eagerly signed up for not one, but two internships with the Harris Center! She also enrolled her son in the Wol’s Nest camp. Thus began a long and fruitful relationship.
Upon the completion of Sandie’s internships, the Harris Center offered her the newly created position of Director of Development and Membership. This was a pivotal period of time for the Harris Center, as there were increasing requests for environmental education programs, and the organization was experiencing significant growth.
A New Home for the Harris Center
At Sandie’s recommendation, a strategic planning session was held, facilitated by Board member David Baum. The outcome was a strategic plan and a shared conviction that the Harris Center building did indeed require an overhaul. The old building was no longer able to adequately serve the organization’s needs, not to mention that it was also housing a lot of uninvited critters! If we were to continue to serve the community and expand our programs and donor base, something had to change. Sandie recalls:
“Through the strategic planning process, we realized that the building was holding us back from reaching our mission at that point in time.”
Once the decision was made, studies were done and building plans were drawn, a feasibility study was completed, and a massive fundraising effort took place. Sandie and the rest of the Harris Center staff moved out of the building for a full year during the renovation, working out of makeshift office space in Jaffrey.
“I feel we accomplished so much as a team. It was a ‘perfect storm’ of people coming together who had the vision to make a difference—Hunt [Dowse], Francie [Von Mertens], Mary Day [Mordecai], Dave [Birchenough], Thelma [Babbitt], and so many others. We did great work together—we were all learning at the same time. It was such a team effort!”
A Foundation for the Future
During Sandie’s time at the Harris Center, not only was the building renovation capital campaign goal exceeded, but several important building blocks were put in place that would help sustain the organization for years to come, such as the creation of a Board Development Committee and the Bobcats Forever planned giving society. Sandie made sure donors knew how much they were appreciated as they stepped forward to help the Harris Center fulfill its mission. And now there was a beautiful new building for the Harris Center to do its work in, well into the future.
A consummate team player, Sandie deserves much of the credit for the work that was accomplished during her tenure as Director of Development and Membership, a role she served in until 2003. The Harris Center is so fortunate to have benefited from Sandie’s talents during this crucial period of growth and transformation, and to still count her among the family of Harris Center supporters.
“I truly believe in ‘room to roam’ and environmental education. People need to be connected to the environment to want to protect it. I’m very proud of the work we did.”
For more information on the Harris Center’s 50th anniversary celebrations, please contact Lisa Murray at (603) 525-3394 or by email.