For his entire life, Dimitri Stankevich has received a paycheck from one place: the YMCA.
The long-time Camp Orkila director is shifting gears into an entirely new area: leading a performing arts center.
“Life doesn’t always take you down the path you think it will,” he said. “After 30 years of running camps, I had an urge to do something different.”
Stankevich has been named the new executive director of Orcas Center. He is replacing Jim Bredouw, who filled the role last July on a temporary basis. The six-month, non-paid commitment turned into a nearly year-long job, but Bredouw is pleased with the progress he made.
“The first few months were the toughest job I’ve ever done,” he said. “There was a disconnect from executive director to executive director, of whom there were three in the previous 15 months. The job involved so many different types of tasks that had nothing to do with each other. But we have a great group here, and particularly Jake Perrine, who has been my right hand. Once we got things firing in the same direction and policies lined up, everything became much easier and fun.”
Stankevich, who has previously served on the center’s board of directors, began thinking about becoming part of the OC team after seeing Bredouw “rebuilding and mending burned bridges” over the past year.
“I felt like it was right,” he said.
Stankevich’s first day is March 25, and Bredouw has offered to stay on through May 1 to ensure a seamless transition.
“Dimitri has indicated he’s in it for the long haul,” Bredouw said. “I can’t think of a better human being than him to do this. His leadership style is lead by example, and I think the staff will thrive. He’ll be a better leader than me.”
Stankevich was a music major at Western Washington University, which he attended with his high school sweetheart and soon-to-be wife Lorena. He planned to be a school band leader but decided to pursue a career with the YMCA after being a counselor there during high school and college. He was hired first in San Francisco and then promoted to executive director for a camp in Portland, Oregon.
He and Lorena and their daughter Daria moved to Orcas in 2005. For the past 14 years, Stankevich has run Camp Orkila. Lorena is the principal for Orcas Island Elementary School. Daria is graduating this June from Central Washington University and will be attending Vanderbilt for a master’s degree in learning and design.
When he’s not working, Stankevich is a volunteer EMT, serves on the Orcas Island Community Foundation Board, plays the tuba and trombone and is a member of a quintet called the Turtleback Brass.
Stankevich has been in many center events, including Martin Lund’s One World concerts and playing in the orchestra– along with Lorena – in “Gypsy.” One of his favorite OC headliners is the “The Good Lovelies.”
“I want to continue the great work of Jim and bring the center back to where everyone feels like it is a place for them,” he said. “So many people have feelings about Orcas Center. I look forward to talking with people who have time and talent to give.”