We, supporters of Civility First, are a group of citizens representing a wide range of political views. We have come together to repudiate the divisive language and hate speech permeating our society.
For our democracy to work effectively and to solve society’s problems, the voices, values and opinions of citizens need to be heard – we do not want to suppress vigorous political activism or dissent. However, being heard and hearing others will not happen without respectful listening.
Civility First promotes listening and learning from people with differing perspectives, and modeling civility and respectful behavior in public life.
Civility First is asking civic and community leaders, civic groups, religious groups and concerned citizens to commit to respectful listening, civil behavior and being role models for our children. We want our communities, schools, and public meetings to be safe places for honest discourse.
Will you join us by signing the Civility First Pledge so we can work together?
Donations are also welcome!
Please see our Donate page.
Donations are also welcome!
Please see our Donate page.
Civility First is a Washington State and IRS 501(c)3 tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation founded in 2017 on Whidbey Island by Jim Campbell, Dave Cauffman, Tom Ewell, Sara McGruder, Alice O’Grady, Sandi Peterson, Cathy Whitmire and Bob Wolters. Biographies of our founders and current Board of Directors follow:
Jim Campbell Founder and Director
Jim was born in Indiana and graduated from Frankfort High School in 1953. After high school, he enlisted in the United States Navy, retiring as a Chief Petty Officer in December of 1974. He went to work for Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale, California in July of 1977. Over the next 24 years, Jim worked as Publications Engineer, Lead Engineer, and Project Manager in Sunnyvale, Liaison Representative/Marketing Representative in Washington, D.C., and finally as Senior Manager serving as Liaison to the Royal Navy Trident Missile Program in Helensburgh, Scotland. He retired from Lockheed in December of 2000. Jim and his wife Beth have been married 38 years. They have five children, living in Spokane and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Jim and Beth moved to Oak Harbor in 2000.
Jim is serving his third term on the Oak Harbor City Council. During his terms He has served on a variety of Committees: Boys and Girls Club, Senior Citizen’s Advisory Board, Parks Committee and Fire Department Strategic Plan Committee. He also was on the Board of Directors of Island County United Way, and a member of Oak Harbor Navy League.
David Cauffman Founder and Director
Dave has lived on Whidbey Island since 2000. Since retiring he has served on the Habitat for Humanity of Island County Board of Directors and as president of the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Whidbey Island.
Prior to his retirement Dave was a physicist with NASA headquarters and afterwards a manager with Lockheed Martin, including service as chief scientist and director of research for the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory.
A native of Pennsylvania, Dave was awarded the Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Space Physics at the University of Iowa and has a B.A. from Haverford College. Dave and his wife Mavis just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They have two sons and four grandchildren.
Tom Ewell Founder and Director
Tom has served most of his career as an ecumenical, interfaith and Quaker peace and justice advocate at the regional and national level with a particular expertise in criminal justice reform and disarmament.
He is a member of the WA Quaker Voice lobby group in Olympia and serves on the Program Committee and Criminal Justice Working Group of interfaith Faith Action Network in Seattle. He writes a weekly blog, the “Saturday Evening Post,” dealing with contemporary faith and political issues and nonviolence training. Tom enjoys gardening, tennis and pottery.
He lives in Clinton, WA, with his wife, Cathy Whitmire.
Sara McGruder Director Emeritus
A resident of Whidbey Island since 1989, Sara has been a liaison board member for the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce on behalf of Naval Station Whidbey Island, and has also served as a board member and board secretary for New Leaf, a corporation that creates employment opportunities for people with significant disabilities.
Sara was born in Savannah, Tennessee, and raised in New Mexico, graduating from Belen Senior High before joining the Navy out of Chicago Illinois, where she was attending Chicago Business School. She spent eight years in the military, and twenty-eight years working as civil service employment for the United States Navy.
Twelve years ago Sara retired, and now spends time working in the community with the homeless and volunteering at her church and at nursing homes in Oak Harbor. Reading, researching, writing in her journal, hiking and cooking occupy her leisure time. She enjoys about spending time with her four grandsons and traveling.
Alice O'Grady Founder and Director
Alice has lived on Whidbey Island since 2012, but her Whidbey roots go back to her childhood. From her home in Seattle, she visited the island regularly as a child and her husband, Jim, who grew up in Everett, came to Whidbey also. Whidbey memories include: Camp Fire Leaders and her young troop at Fort Casey, making Smore’s over a campfire, visiting her elderly relatives in Freeland and digging clams in college during a visit to a professor’s home.
Alice has two grown children and one grandchild. She retired from teaching and school librarianship. Alice enjoys reading, gardening, travel, old movies and membership in the local AAUW branch. She is currently the President of AAUW/Whidbey and an active member of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship.
Sandi Peterson Founder and Director Emeritus
Sandi grew up, mostly, in the Skagit Valley. She moved to Whidbey Island, for the second time, in 2010.
Active in the Republican Party, Sandi grew up in a family of Democrats. Having spent a good part of her life having conversations with people of opposing views, she knows full well that civil discussions about policy can happen.
Sandi has served as a Planning Commissioner for the City of Oak Harbor, is currently serving as a Civil Service Commissioner, is a member of the Patriot Guard and is awaiting admission into the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Sandy and her husband have 4 children, 8 grandchildren, and one great grandson. They enjoy watching their family grow and prosper, traveling, playing cards and board games, wildlife and each other.
Cathy Whitmire Founder and Director
Growing up with a Republican father and Democratic mother, Cathy understood at an early age that people can disagree on policy and still love and respect one another. She worked in the Wenatchee Valley as a community organizer for the War on Poverty, started an accredited alternative high school for drop-outs and was appointed by Republican Governor Dan Evans to the Central Washington State University Board of Trustees. Later she became Executive Director of Family Planning Clinics in Chelan-Douglas counties where she formed a group of pro-life and pro-choice advocates who worked together to help teen mothers.
Cathy made a mid-life career change, attended divinity school in Boston and after graduating, worked at inner-city hospitals as a chaplain and pastoral counselor. Following her years of chaplaincy, she supervised community empowerment projects in New England for the American Friends Service Committee, and after retiring, published books on Quaker spirituality and peacemaking. She is married, has five beloved grandchildren and since moving to Whidbey Island eleven years ago has led spiritual retreats and been involved in various community and Quaker activities.
Bob Wolters Founder and Director
Bob, while a native of Iowa, is a 10-year resident of south Whidbey Island. Bob is a graduate of the University of Iowa with advanced degree studies in business administration and technology at the University of Illinois, Northwestern University, the Wharton School of Business and MIT.
Bob is married with 2 grown daughters and a granddaughter. After a 32-year career as an executive with AT&T and AT&T Wireless, Bob and his wife, Margaret Andersen, settled on Whidbey Island, and Bob was able to focus his interest on the needs of “at risk” children. While an executive with AT&T in Chicago, Bob served as a board member and later as the Chairman of Voices for Illinois Children, a leading children’s advocacy group in the Midwest.
After moving to the Pacific Northwest and retiring from AT&T Wireless, over the last 10 years Bob has served as a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian Ad Litem representing abused and neglected children in Island County’s Superior Court.