Former head of Camp Sealth named director of Vashon Park District

Jan Milligan will take over as executive director of the Vashon Park District in October. - Natalie Johnson/Staff Photo
Jan Milligan will take over as executive director of the Vashon Park District in October.
— image credit: Natalie Johnson/Staff Photo

Islander Jan Milligan, who directed Camp Sealth for 15 years, has been hired as the next executive director of the Vashon Park District.

The district’s board of commissioners in an executive session Tuesday chose to hire Milligan after a four-month search process.

“I’m looking forward to making a big contribution on this Island,” Milligan said Friday after signing paperwork that finalized the decision. 

Current park district director Wendy Braicks, who has headed the district since it began 21 years ago, announced in April that she would step down this fall.

“I think the board made a great decision,” Braicks said. “(Jan) certainly has a lot of experience in parks facilities management, and she’s familiar with the Island and a lot of the people we deal with.”

Milligan, who is 57 and has a degree in forestry and wildland recreation management from Washington State University, moved to Vashon 18 years ago to head Camp Sealth. Before coming to the Island, she directed two different camps in California, as well as the Washington Trails Association and Volunteers for Outdoor Washington.

Milligan left Camp Sealth in 2008 so she and her husband Doug Milligan, a firefighter and paramedic for the Bellevue Fire Department, could focus on building the couple’s new home on Vashon.

“I took a little bit of a career break,” Milligan said.

As the home neared completion, Milligan began to search for another job and thought the park district position was a perfect match. 

The park board met with nine of the 20 applicants for the position and extensively interviewed three of them. Park district employees, volunteers and Islanders who work closely with the district were also given the opportunity to provide feedback on the final three candidates, one of whom later withdrew himself from consideration.

“It was a really hard decision,” said park board chair LuAnn Branch, noting the board’s vote on Tuesday was not unanimous. “We had two outstanding candidates with different skills.”

The other final candidate was Larry Fetter, the former superintendent of the Enumclaw City parks department, said commissioner David Hackett.

“We felt Jan had the best skills for our community and was a wonderful fit,” she said.

Milligan will earn $72,000 a year, the same salary Braicks currently receives.

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