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Ask an Expert

The Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to have access to highly relevant experts in this time of crisis. The experts below have offered their personal time on a volunteer-basis to guide us through the challenges we may be facing in creating the safety net for our businesses.

DISCLAIMER: The discussions provided on a volunteer basis are for general informational purposes only. Any action you take upon the information gathered from these communications is strictly at your own risk. In contacting these specialists, you agree to hold the Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce and the specialist harmless.

Deborah Diamond

Chamber Chat Webinar: Navigating Tax Stimulus and Unemployment Benefits

Specialty: Taxes, IRS

Bio: Deborah Diamond retired from the Internal Revenue Service after 33 years as a tax auditor, Citizen Advocacy Panel Program Manager, and the final 10 years partnering with federal and state agencies like the IRS Governmental Liaison. Deborah continues to consult with government agencies as a workplace investigator, mediator, and expert witness. She also is a volunteer with AARP Tax Aide and has done free tax preparation at the Vashon Library since she moved here 5 years ago.

Deborah has volunteered to assist Vashon employees and the self-employed who need help navigating the COVID-19 tax stimulus and unemployment benefits systems.

Should you apply for benefits? When? How? We’ve got answers.

Contact Preference: Please send an email with your phone number- she will follow up with a phone call.

Days: Sunday-Saturday

Hours: 9 am- 8 pm

deborah@vashonbeprepared.org

Ellen Ahearn

Specialty: Finance & Accounting

Bio: Senior financial executive with 40 years of experience managing finance and accounting organizations for publicly traded and privately held companies. She has experience with financial modeling, including budgeting, profit & loss statements and cash flows.

Ellen is interested in assisting small business owners manage through the financial issues facing them resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contact preference:

Days: Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday

Hours: 6 pm and 7:30 pm 

Phone: (425) 503-6588

email

Heather Russell

Specialty: Banking

Bio: Heather Russell has been the friendly Branch Manager of the Vashon US Bank branch since 2016.  She’s worked in banking in a variety of capacities since 2008 and has intimate knowledge of banking products and services for both small businesses and individual needs.  She’s served as the Treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce since 2018.  She uses her heart and mind to support and connect the businesses of Vashon, seeking to empower people financially so they may flourish.

Outside of work and volunteering, she loves to spend time with family and friends, and out in nature.  She paints abstract watercolors and appreciates art in all forms.  At heart, she is a true nerd, reading a variety of topics, and a geek of all things psychological, mythological, and poetic.

US Bank, Branch Manager
Vashon Chamber of Commerce Treasurer

email

Katie Hermanns

Specialty: Marketing, Website Design, Online Merchandising

Bio: Katie Hermanns is the Founder of KMH Business Solutions & Be Present Media. She has over 12 years of experience as a business consultant specializing in marketing and sales and works with numerous island businesses and off island businesses alike.

Katie and her family call Vashon home and during this challenging time, Katie and her business partner are donating many hours of their time to help island businesses enhance their online visibility and guide them into a more virtual space.

KMH Business Solutions

Social Media, Marketing, Operational Efficiency

email

LeeAnn Brown

Specialty: Healthcare & Insurance

Bio: As an independent health insurance broker, LeeAnn Brown has been helping her Vashon community for over two decades. Her areas of focus are around helping individuals, families and small businesses find the best medical insurance plan for their unique needs, including Medicare.

LeeAnn is certified to help people with our state website (WAHealthplanfinder.org) to access subsidies, choose the best plans or qualify for Apple Health coverage. She is also very experienced in helping self-employed individuals get access to these programs. There is no charge for her services.

Contact preference:

Call or email

Days: Monday – Friday

Hours: 9 – 5 p.m.

Cheryl Lubbert

Specialty: Business

Bio: Cheryl co-founded and transformed Health Perspectives Group, a patient engagement communication and technology company, from a health advocacy consultancy into one of the largest women-owned businesses in the Puget Sound region. Since 2010, Health Perspectives Group has been recognized locally and nationally as a great employer and business.

Prior to Health Perspectives Group, Cheryl has more than 25 years of executive management and commercial development experience at companies ranging from start-up to Fortune 500. Cheryl served as president of a venture capital-backed start-up focused on consumer insights and analytics, and she held leadership positions at biopharmaceutical companies including Abbott Labs, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Immunex and Amgen.

Cheryl and her husband, Jim Gerlach also started Nashi Orchards in 2012, an award-winning perry and hard cider business, at their island home and orchards where they sustainably grow the Asian and European pears and heirloom apples and transform them into delicious libations.

Contact preference:

Call or email

Days: Monday – Friday

Hours: 6 pm - 9 pm

Torena O'Rorke

Specialty: Employment & Mental Health Counselor

Bio: Torena has worked in the field of mental health counseling for 30 years both for a variety of state and private programs. In addition to counseling individuals, she has also been a life coach, helping hundreds of clients uncover their potential, learn effective and realistic goal-setting, and acquiring skills to reclaim their lives.

Contact preference: 

Text preferred: (509) 460-6444

Email

Days: Monday – Wednesday

Hours: 10 am - 5 pm

*If calling, leave a message if she does not answer. This is a confidential line.

Robert Litman

Specialty: Breathing Education

Bio:Robert Litman has been a faculty member and head of the Departments of Anatomy and Physiology and Movement Education at the Desert Institute of the Healing Arts Massage School in Tucson. He is a registered educator and trainer of the Buteyko Breathing Educators Association. He was a preceptor at the University of Arizona School of Integrative Medicine, teaching The Breathable Body to visiting doctors for Dr. Andrew Weil. He has a Graduate Certification as a Breathing Behavior Analyst at The Graduate School of Behavioral Breathing and Health Sciences, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, The Breathable Body is the inevitable synthesis of the modalities of Robert’s life work of studying, teaching, and living embodiment. This approach spirals together the movement modalities of Continuum, Contemplation, Buteyko Breathing, and the Duggan-French Approach to Somatic Patterning Recognition. Following these tenets, Robert teaches his students skills that enable them to regulate and maximize the nourishment that breathing is meant to provide. He lives on Vashon Island, Washington, and offers private sessions and classes in movement and breathing, locally and worldwide. His YouTube video “The Relationship Between Breathing and Anxiety” has 108,000 views. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhEEtWNbLJ4&t=1777s

Contact preference: 

Email or Phone

Days:

Hours: 10 am - 6 pm

Rachel Waldron

Specialty: Business Planning

Bio: Rachel Waldron is known on the island as an interior architectural designer. What many do not know is that after receiving her BA in interior design, Rachel went back to school for a Masters in Business Administration with a Marketing Emphasis. Her "thesis" was the assembly of a complete marketing plan (which she received a 4.0 on!)

Contact preference: 

Email

Days: Any

Hours: Any via email

*Availability is extremely limited, please be patient with responses.

Jeffrey Sayre, Attorney

Specialty: Mediation of Commercial Lease Disputes

Bio: I operate a boutique law firm consisting of 6 attorneys, with offices in Seattle, Olympia, and Vashon.  I’ve been practicing law for over 30 years, and a good part of my practice has focused on commercial landlord/tenant disputes and defaults.  As a litigator, I have also participated in hundreds of mediations.  My wife and I are 30-year island residents and we’ve raised all three kids here, so I know how tricky the island can be when a dispute arises among islanders.

Over the past few months, I’ve received a tremendous number of calls regarding the inability of commercial tenants in Seattle to make their lease payments.  If those calls were to come from Vashon, we would typically refer the parties to different counsel because I established a policy long ago not to litigate or otherwise get deeply involved in island disputes.  It’s just too small of a community here; I know far too many people, which could result in a conflict of interest; and, as important, I’d have problems shopping at Thriftway if I were adverse to half of the community.  What I can offer, however, is to act as a neutral mediator if some of the island’s commercial landlords and tenants were willing to sit down in an effort to reach a workout.  By definition, that would entail a compromise, but there are several options available to those landlords and tenants that seek an equitable way forward.  My service would be pro bono, and I would not represent either party, but I’m willing to spend a few hours in an effort to help them bridge the impasse.

Contact pref: Call or Email

Days: Monday - Friday

Hours: 9 – 5 p.m.