Our Board of Directors

Meet the team that helps hold The Backyard’s vision.

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Sarah Ruggenberg, President/Executive Director

Sarah is a wife, mother, and dreamer. After spending 7 years working in the fashion industry (and 2 years living on the island), she started searching for a more meaningful way to serve her community, and The Backyard unfolded. Sarah is constantly envisioning what the next step of The Backyard will be, hoping to someday give everyone a place where they can come and feel a sense of belonging. The only thing qualifying Sarah to be driving this crazy bus is her big love for people. She’s learning as she goes.


Zach Ruggenberg, Vice President/Treasurer

In addition to programming and coaching most of The Backyard’s programs, Zach’s education in technical design and career in manufacturing planning equipped him to not only build much of The Backyard playground but also manage our membership software and track our finances. Zach finds pure joy in being with people in a playful environment, and playing along side his kids is his favorite. He finds fulfillment in watching his students learning and progressing in their strength and movement abilities; Zach loves people by teaching them to move well and get stronger.


Sietske veenman, Secretary

Sietske, a mother of 2, is new to the island and found The Backyard pretty quickly after moving here. She loves that The Backyard is a welcoming place to find community which is why she decided to get involved. She has a background in working for and with non profits and studied yoga, kids yoga and mindfulness. Sietske currently teaches at the Oranjeschool in Seattle once a week with 3-4 year olds focusing on Dutch language and culture in a play based environment. She's hoping to add to the board with her non profit experience as well as teach kids classes at The Backyard focusing on body awareness and mindfulness.


Jenna Barrett

Jenna is a grizzled old veteran of Seattle's circus and performing arts scene. In her early days she spent time as an entertainer for hire and activist performer with Seattle's most notorious street marching band; in the last decade she has dedicated her career to putting her administrative skills to work for artists, teachers, and change-makers in our community.

Jenna joined the Backyard Whidbey team in 2018. When she's not working to support Backyard Whidbey she is likely riding motorcycles or reading a book. She will gladly fly on a trapeze for a good cause.


Jessica Durr, DPT

Jessica found The Backyard through our fundraising flyers back in October 2017, and we knew immediately that we took a similar approach to mindful movement. Jessica graduated in 2011 from Washington University in St. Louis with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy. She began to see patterns of reinjury in patients and a lack of options of where to send patients after physical therapy, where they could continue to develop more MINDFULNESS about how to move better. She began to study Nutritious Movement with barefoot guru Katy Bowman and preventative strength & conditioning training. She continues to read and attend workshops, and apply the SCIENCE in all her classes. 


Couloir Jensen

Couloir is also a former school teacher who now splits her time between motherhood, working at Christian Life Center, and running South Island Crossfit with her husband, Daniel. We are thankful to have our business neighbors support our mission through serving on our board!


Bill Mclellan

Bill is very young at heart and never outgrew playing so being connected with the Backyard is a natural fit for him. He loves to encourage kids to go a little further than they're comfortable with (while keeping them safe) and he considers it an honor to be a small part of our amazing non profit! You can find him nearly every month volunteering at Parent’s Night Out; one of our regular attenders affectionately calls him “my friend Bill”.


Michael Nehring

This husband, father(of 6!), and software developer is one of The Backyard’s biggest fans. From making dozens of pizzas in his pizza oven for volunteer work parties to being our very first Backyard member, Mike lends his time, talent, and treasure to The Backyard in countless ways.