New Opportunity Council director has a long history of local advocacy

After a national search, the Opportunity Council’s board of directors recruited the nonprofit’s next leader from within the organization. Greg Winter, current director of the Opportunity Council’s Homeless Service Center, will begin as executive director on Jan. 1, 2016.

“I am excited about the future of the organization and know Greg will do a great job as the new executive director,” said Mamie Lackie, Opportunity Council board president, in a press release.

The Opportunity Council provides services for homeless and low-income individuals and families ranging from home energy bill assistance to financial literacy classes. It has programs for transportation, energy assistance, child care, hunger, housing, training and education in Whatcom and San Juan counties.

Lackie added that Winter is taking over an organization with a strong foundation.

“I’m thrilled that I will have an opportunity to lead this organization of talented and dedicated individuals,” Winter said in the news release. “I’m also honored to be following in the footsteps of Dave Finet, a truly exceptional innovator who has helped lead this community action agency with great skill and empathy.”

In his current role, Winter tripled his department’s revenue, led a team that reduced veteran homelessness by 60 percent, and helped start the Bellingham Home Fund, according to a press release. He also serves on the agency’s executive management team, where he participates in decision-making, strategic planning and establishing agency policy direction.

Before coming to the Opportunity Council, Winter secured millions of dollars to support new and expanding human services and housing programs as a research director. Also, he co-founded the Kulshan Community Land Trust in 1999, a program that helps middle-income families buy homes. In 2013, the Washington Low-Income Housing Alliance honored Winter with its Advocate of the Year Award.

Currently, Winter serves on boards for North Sound Accountable Community of Health and Chuckanut Heath Foundation, and he leads the Whatcom County Coalition to End Homelessness. He has a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University and a master’s degree from Michigan State University.

Winter succeeds Dave Finet, who, in April, announced plans to retire at the end of this year. Finet started at the Opportunity Counci in 1986 and has lead the organization since 2006.

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