I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Amber Buell, our new Executive Director at the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum (BIHM). One of the first things that hit me upon meeting her was her vibrant and energetic personality, enthusiasm for life and a passion for history. Although Amber has only been at BIHM for six weeks now, she is wholeheartedly invested in Bainbridge and the organization’s mission (https://bainbridgehistory.org/about/our-museum/).
Amber’s journey to our little island started soon after she graduated from Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. She always knew she wanted to pursue a career in the non-profit field and began that journey as Services Coordinator for Volunteers of America-Oklahoma, where she provided assistance to the homeless, mentally ill and under served communities. From there she served as Executive Director for Food and Resource Center of South-Central Oklahoma, where she fine-tuned her skills in the workings of the non-profit world through grant writing, fund development, budget management, strategic planning, volunteer recruitment and leadership.
When her husband, Travis, who is a Parks and Recreation Professional, was hired by Kitsap County Parks they made the move to the Seabeck area. While Amber got their twin sons settled and their new home set up, Travis (secretly) sent her resume off to the Kitsap County Historical Museum. She laughed a bit as she regaled this to me, noting that, at the time, she didn’t feel her experience in the non-profit field—which revolved around social justice—would apply to a historical museum. However, she was delighted when she got the call for an interview and realized that she was also excited about the prospect of working at a museum, especially a history museum.
She loved the work, and thoroughly enjoyed learning at the ground level about the history of Kitsap County, the Pacific Northwest and working with the community to learn their stories and tell them in an equitable fashion. She worked with local islanders as well, such as Karen Vargas and many others whose work extended beyond Bainbridge.
When the pandemic hit, Amber and Travis contemplated a move back to Kansas to be closer to family, and in mid-2020, Travis was offered a job there and they made the change. However, it wouldn’t be long before the Buell family realized how much they missed their friends and the PNW lifestyle they’d come to love. When the opportunity arose for the Executive Director position at BIHM she jumped at it and the family happily made the move back.
Amber is enamored with our little island, its people and its diverse history and is looking forward to working with our various community groups to learn how they’d like their stories told. “We’re constantly living through history,” she said, and it isn’t just the past she’d like to share, it’s the present and the future.
If you are interested in sharing information about historical events, both from a familial standpoint and experiential standpoint, contact Amber at Amber@bainbridgehistory.org.
If you’d like to learn more about the museum’s current exhibit, click here.
To subscribe to The Island Wanderer Blog, click here.