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Leader of Washington Apple Education Foundation steps down after two decades

After leading the Washington Apple Education Foundation (WAEF) as its executive director for 20 years, Jennifer Witherbee will step down at the end of March 2022.

Witherbee said the timing of her departure has much to do with the current health of the organization. “WAEF is in a great place with loyal donor support, a strong staff, involved industry leaders on the board of directors and a proven track record. I am truly fortunate to have had the opportunity to be part of WAEF for 20 years and couldn’t feel more proud of the impact we’ve had on thousands of students,” said Witherbee. She will stay on through the end of March to assist the board of directors with the search for a new executive director and ensure a smooth transition.

“For 20 years, not only has Jennifer left her mark on the students and foundation, but she has also impacted the apple industry as well,” said Laurie Knebusch, the foundation’s chairman. “We can all proudly hold up WAEF as an example of what can be achieved when we all come together for a worthy cause, in large part thanks to Jennifer’s leadership.” Knebusch, along with a committee from the board of directors, will lead the search for the new executive director, a process that’s expected to take the next two to three months.

WAEF is the charity of Washington’s tree fruit industry. It was founded in 1994 and is best known for its scholarship program that now assists hundreds of students annually with scholarship awards in excess of $1 million. The foundation also provides year-round outreach to students through professional development, career exploration and mentoring.

During Witherbee’s tenure at the foundation, scholarships granted grew from just under $100,000 to over $1 million awarded annually.
“Many years ago, Jennifer Witherbee took over a program that was poised for growth,” said WAEF board member Christian Schlect. “Through hard work, vision and a committed board, she helped nurture and expand it into a prime property for our entire tree fruit industry. While Jennifer will be missed, WAEF will continue bearing good fruit under new leadership.”

Witherbee has an MBA from Washington State University and an undergraduate degree in politics, philosophy and economics from Eastern Oregon University. She completed a course in Strategic Perspectives for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard in 2017. In 2020, Witherbee was honored by the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival as its apple citizen of the year. She is originally from Chelan and is the daughter of Herold & Vicki Peebles. She and her husband, Jay, reside in Wenatchee and plan to stay in the area.

For more information:
Jennifer Witherbee
Washington Apple Education Foundation
Tel: +1 (509) 663-7713 

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