A Personal Letter from our Founding Director

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Thousand Mile Journeys

A personal letter from Founding Director, Ian McCluskey

Dear friends,

2017 is a year of change for NW Documentary. Perhaps the biggest change yet on this amazing journey.

It is with a bittersweet joy that I am shifting my role at NW Documentary. This January, I will transition my role as Executive Director/Artistic Director and join the Board of Directors.

In my place, I have brought in an Interim Director from the Nonprofit Association of Oregon, Dan Mankin. Additionally, I have asked Bob Hazen, an expert in the field, to help the Board conduct a thoughtful and thorough search for the next full-time Director of NW Documentary. With the vision and leadership of the Board, and the support of the staff, instructors, and volunteers, we are united in our commitment to a successful transition as we remain dedicated to our core values and programs.

What began as a small circle of volunteers, meeting for the first time in my living room some 13 years ago to create documentaries has become a respected, award-winning non profit. Check out a short video retrospective of our jounrey here.

I am proud of some of our key accomplishments:

  • More than 250 people have been given the mentorship, tools, and inspiration to tell their own stories. Hundreds have now stood on stage, at the end of Homegrown DocFest, as first-time filmmakers. We’ve celebrated stories from the silly to the profound, political to the deeply personal.
  • With careful fiscal management and thoughtful growth, we earned the respect and trust of Oregon’s major foundations, including funding from both the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • We developed profound partnership programs with two of Oregon’s most beloved non-profits, OMSI and the Dougy Center. We nurtured these relationships for more than 10 years, and in the process earned 5 regional and 1 national Emmy Awards. Most importantly, we changed kids’ lives.

In turn, NW Documentary has changed my life. It’s given me life memories, from watching sunrises in the depth of the Colorado River canyons to watching the sunset over San Tropez, France. Hearing oral history from Native American Elders, and Japanese Americans imprisoned during WWII. I’ve also enjoyed putting my carpentry skills to use, designing and helping c
onstruct the edit lab and “cabillion” cabin and barn in the new NW Documentary headquarters. Along the way, have made great friends, and great memories. I have discovered, and lived, my personal mantra: “Do good work, with good people, for good reasons.”

NW Documentary remains dear to my heart, and I plan to remain core to its vision and programing, to help its record of success continue into the future.

But life calls me in a parallel, but new adventure. I am joining the small, award-winning team of Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Oregon Field Guide. This position will allow me to travel across my homestate, meeting the people and exploring the remote corners of Oregon. It will allow me to focus my creative energies on productions, sharing my passion for this place with a wider audience of Oregonians—those who have been here for generations like my family, and those newly arrived.

I am excited. Change is scary, and daunting. And unknown. But as I learned from making Voyagers Without Trace, the unknown is where adventure waits to be discovered.

They say that a 1,000 mile journey begins with one small step. Just as truly, a 1,000 mile journey continues: one step, and then the next. Forward, ever forward.



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