Letter from the Executive Director: Reflections on Gratitude

Following my very first trip to ASRI in February 2012, I wrote: “Standing in the gigantic buttress of a Dipterocarp tree while around me other tall slender trees swayed like metronomes heralding the swing of the great ape and its cousins, I knew I was now improbably connected through my heart and in the soles of my feet to these people and this rainforest for the very air I breathe.”

Over the ensuing years, I’ve been honored by and grateful for friendships with many of you and privileged to do this work with Health In Harmony’s founder, Dr. Kinari Webb, my esteemed Board of Directors, and my most valued Health In Harmony and ASRI work tribe. Friendships and connections I never imagined have been made possible because of the work we do together: engaging community-led solutions for human health and the health of our planet.

Thank you.


Now, it is with the greatest of respect and love for each of you, and all of Health In Harmony and ASRI, that I have asked and your Board of Directors has accepted my resignation as Executive Director. I am leaving at this time because my work, the very best work I do, is done. It has been a most amazing journey, going on 5 years.  I still recall the day well, December 1, 2011, when I accepted the job with Health In Harmony. Borneo wasn’t even on my bucket list but I was thrilled and I remain so thankful for what has been a personally and professionally transformative journey with each of you. It is important to me that you know I am retiring with a little “r” and choosing to take a 6-month personal sabbatical to explore what’s calling.

This is an exciting transition. Every non-profit organization has its seasons and there is a leader unique to every season. In my season here, the greatest gift I have given Health In Harmony has been my steadfast leadership and vow to work in and with integrity on the foundations for an effective, passionate, accountable organization. Today, it is one that is even more capable of greatness and I believe the time has arrived as Health In Harmony embraces its next decade, for Health In Harmony to embrace new, savvy, dynamic executive leadership.

In closing, I go back to what I wrote in February 2012, Reflections on Gratitude (April 2012):  “Crossing the tarmac at Ketapang’s outpost airport, I am momentarily caught in a gulp of sadness…. because I know in the deep well of my heart that I’ve stepped across an invisible threshold and will never be the same again even though I know I don’t completely know how so — yet.” In so many ways, none of us will ever be the same again whether we’ve donated, worked, volunteered or served Health In Harmony or ASRI in any way. I know I will have left a piece of my heart and soul in Health In Harmony and at ASRI.

In gratitude,



About Michelle Bussard | View all posts by Michelle Bussard

Michelle is the Executive Director at Health In Harmony, based in Portland, OR.