Farewell & Leadership Transition at MSHI: A Letter from Ray Yurkewycz, Executive Director


On May 11, 2011, I showed up to my first day of work at the Mount St. Helens Institute. I came with a passion for the place and all that I discovered as a graduate student doing research at the volcano. What I learned over the course of the next 13 years is that the most extraordinary aspect of Mount St. Helens is the people. Staff, board, volunteers, partners, donors, scientists, folks in all of the communities near and far who care about MSHI and the volcano… you’re my people. Having a shared passion for the volcano and making extraordinary things happen together is what I will miss the most as I step down after 10 years as Executive Director.

This decision has been very difficult for me to make. MSHI and the volcano has not just been a job for me – it has been my passion and a significant part of my life and identity. However, health challenges this past year necessitate my stepping away to focus on myself and my family. I am not disappearing, and will support the organization through the transition and beyond.

Times are bright for MSHI, with outdoor school growing by leaps and bounds, a burgeoning volunteer program, more folks exploring the volcano than ever, and advancing plans for the future of Coldwater. Our relationships with partners like the US Forest Service and Cowlitz Indian Tribe are as strong as ever. And as always, we have an amazing crew of staff and board. I am pleased to announce the board has appointed Alyssa Hoyt (Strategic Projects Director) as Acting Executive Director. Alyssa’s passion for the mountain and our community, combined with her leadership, will sustain MSHI into the future.  Please read on for a message from Alyssa. 

It has been such a privilege and honor to spend all of these years at Mount St. Helens.

See you at the volcano.

With love,

Your pal Ray

A note from Alyssa

I am honored and humbled to be Acting Executive Director and am grateful for Ray's years of leadership. The impact of his leadership at MSHI will be felt for years to come, as he has set the stage for the next phase of growth. I am excited to lead and support MSHIas we enter a new season of connecting people to Mount St. Helens through science, education, and exploration. 

Ray’s passion and dedication to Mount St. Helens and our organization are profound, and he will be missed. 

I am so excited to climb to new heights together,