Board Profiles: Meet Nan McKay and Michael Liang

First in a series of Board profiles by Catherine Endicott, the Institute's Donor Relations Manager

Do you know people where it would be a much shorter conversation to ask them “what don’t they do” because they do so much for so many? That is how North Cascades Institute could describe the commitment of one of our longest serving board members, Nan McKay, and one of our newer members, Michael Liang.

Nan and Michael have extensive backgrounds* both working in and volunteering for the education and conservation organizations throughout our region. They are both equally committed, in their respective ways, to the multi-faceted approach of direct service, education and advocacy, especially in the communities where we work, live and recreate.

Nan joined the board in 2008. In addition to her board role and generous annual giving, Nan’s support will continue in perpetuity as a member of our Headwaters Club Legacy Club. As one of our longest serving board members, Nan’s leadership stretches from guiding our strategic plans to extensive collaborations with our partners – the North Cascades National Park and Western Washington University. Nan is committed to the importance of North Cascades Institute’s mission to inspire environmental stewardship through transformative experiences in nature.

“The magic and success of the Institute’s multi-faceted education programs is creating a strong connection to the special place that is the North Cascades. That heartfelt connection is fundamental to our individual and collective capacity to care for and conserve this place and other special places. It offers hope that we can make a positive difference in our world.”

Nan is a lifelong believer in the power of nature-based education, she is eager to give young people opportunities to learn leadership skills. Her role as a board member and Headwaters Legacy Circle member is one of the many ways in how she “walks her talk.”

Michael’s introduction to the Institute first occurred as a North Cascades National Park ranger, where he spent 10 years as a designer and creative leader. During this tenure, Michael served as a park ranger with our Mountain School program. He joined our board in 2021 because he was always impressed with our programs, people and approaches to education.

“I believe in the transformative experience of nature. My life was transformed by friends, mentors, people – by being in amazing places and with amazing people. This is core to the Institute’s mission and I am excited to be in a position to help lead the Institute during a time of great change in our region, country and world.”

Earlier this year Michael was appointed as a Park Commissioner for the City of Tacoma. Additionally, he serves as the Director for Spaceworks, a program of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber that supports entrepreneurs and artists within the region.

Together, Nan and Michael provide a beautiful blend of lived experiences that ensure the Institute’s Leadership is guiding us through these challenging and exciting times!

Please contact us at if you are interested in learning more about our Headwaters Club or volunteering for our Board.

*You can read more about Nan and Michael’s professional backgrounds on our Board of Directors webpage.

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