Olympic Angels hires its first Executive Director

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PORT TOWNSEND – After taking on a new job, Michael D’Alessandro prepared for a Friday night photoshoot – but it wouldn’t be a formal office session.

Instead, D’Alessandro’s face lit up when his family joined him on their porch. Then, as the sun set and a photographer walked away, he answered questions about this new position.

D’Alessandro, 51, has been chosen to be the first Executive Director of Olympic Angels, the organization which provides all kinds of support to host families on the Northern Olympic Peninsula. A long search led to his hiring.

Olympic Angels was established as a non-profit entity in 2020, with founder and case manager Morgan Hanna of Port Townsend and her husband Ian Hanna forming a board of directors. Together they worked with National Angels, which has 22 chapters in cities such as Seattle, Spokane and Salem, Ore.

In pursuit of the mission of holistically supporting youth in foster care, Olympic Angels hired a small staff, assembled 130 volunteers and served more than 60 children in Jefferson and Clallam counties, said last week Marketing Director April Thompson.

The search for a permanent executive director began earlier this year, even as Olympic Angels increased their fundraising efforts. The organization has two main programs: the Love Box, not really a box, but a group of friends who surround the caring foster family, and Dare to Dream, which pairs adult mentors with older foster children.

D’Alessandro, whose family includes his partner George Marie, two teenagers and a 6-year-old, calls his new position a “perfect match”.

It is also his second time as the first executive director of a non-profit organization.

In 2014, D’Alessandro was hired to run the Northwind Arts Center, which has since moved from its comfortable Jefferson Street location to the relatively giant Waterman-Katz building in downtown Port Townsend. In January, the center merged with the Port Townsend School of the Arts to form Northwind Art, a new non-profit organization; D’Alessandro became its director of exhibitions.

He has an artistic and literary training, including a degree in architecture, which has been his profession for a dozen years; a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Naropa University; and a stint at the Independent Publishing Resource Center in Portland, Oregon, before moving to the peninsula.

“It’s time for me to move on to the next challenge,” D’Alessandro said.

“I am delighted to be working in an area that needs it. It’s good to see a new non-profit organization in Port Townsend, ”and to expand its reach across the peninsula.

Clallam and Jefferson counties are suffering “from a huge shortage of available reception beds,” he added. And while not everyone can become a foster parent, volunteering to support foster families is a deeply rewarding role.

Thompson added that when foster parents have support – whether it’s a home cooked meal on a weeknight, a baked and delivered birthday cake, or a listening ear – it can help them keep their adopted child longer. It means a stable home, which makes a huge difference for a young person who has been moved from house to house, possibly statewide, she said.

Arianna and BG Patterson of Port Hadlock are among the adoptive parents who have connected with Olympic Angels. Overwhelmed at times with work and childcare, what they needed most was moral support, Arianna said; this is what her family received from Morgan Hanna and Love Box volunteers.

Information on volunteering and supporting the organization, which aims to hire additional case managers in Clallam and Jefferson in 2022, can be found at OlympicAngels.org or by e-mail [email protected].

The hiring of D’Alessandro is a big step forward, said Ian Hanna, Chairman of the Board.

“We believe Michael brings a tremendous heart to this mission,” he said, “to serve this incredibly vulnerable population.”

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Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected] news.com.


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