After 22 years as Western Washington University’s director of communications, Lynne Masland has now committed herself to becoming a connector of the community. As she describes it, she is an elder of Whatcom County, responsible for building a web of support in the community.
Since she retired, Masland has been constructing her web as an author, board member of the Whatcom Community College Foundation, leader in the Bellingham Sunrise Rotary Club, and aspiring painter.
She has also turned to personal philanthropy, creating the Lynne Masland Family scholarship through the Whatcom Community College Foundation. The $1,000 annual scholarship is offered to students who are single mothers.
Beyond the financial support, she believes that providing the scholarships shows women that there are people rooting for them.
Masland, 75, says she was drawn to philanthropy by a longtime friend, Jean Rahn, who worked as the executive director of the Western Washington University Foundation before passing in 2015. Rahn taught Masland that is doesn’t take a mountainous fortune to make a difference in the lives of those in need. “It was hard to see, as a person of moderate means, how I could make a difference,” she said.
As a single mother once herself, Masland described how a supportive mentor at the University of British Columbia made her dream of earning a doctorate degree possible. School seemed like an impossible task at the time; Masland was working and raising her children. Her mentor laid out every step that would allow Masland to reach the degree she had been working toward for more than 30 years. With much thanks owed to her support system at the University of British Columbia, she earned her doctorate in comparative literature. “I’ve been trying to pay it back ever since,” she said.
In her free time, she can be found writing and painting, passions she has pursued throughout her life. She and her husband, artist Steve Mayo, enjoy all Bellingham has to offer. As an East Coast transplant, Masland’s love for Bellingham and Whatcom County has been an ever-changing affair since she settled here in 1975. “I’ve spread my wings,” she says. “My wings take me where they take me.