A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Meet Nancy Tollefson, our Words Matter 2020 Committee Chair

SAL Board Member Nancy Tollefson picked up the baton to chair this year’s Words Matter 2020 Gala Committee, and she’s had a smile on her face the entire time. An inspiring, fun, and natural leader, Nancy has been working tirelessly behind the scenes and cheering as each auction item has been procured, delicious desserts donated for the Dash, and Blind Date Books gathered and wrapped.

As a dedicated, enthusiastic, and integral part of the SAL community, we wanted to take a moment to salute her, and to learn more about what she loves about Words Matter, her reading life, and the most memorable SAL event she’s been to…

What do you love about Words Matter?

This will be my fifth Words Matter and my first time chairing the event. After my first experience I realized this is no ordinary fundraiser. Every auction item has some tie to words, expression or SAL. The attendees are passionate. To quote one of my guests, “There are millers, fillers and pillars. This is a room full of pillars!” As Chair, I am able to see all that goes on behind the scenes of this extraordinarily successful event. The generosity, creativity and passion of the people behind Words Matter is astounding and it is an honor for me to play such a big role.

What’s been a memorable SAL event for you?

My favorite SAL event was Anthony Doerr. His lecture was so entertaining and funny and literally what inspired me to become a board member. It took me by surprise as his book, All the Light We Cannot See, is of such serious subject matter. I also loved hearing about his writing process and his thoughts on failure. I was so inspired and could not stop talking about it for days. It made me realize that books are an excellent conversation starter. Whether on a plane, in a waiting room, or just searching for something to talk about at the Thanksgiving table, books unite us.

What was a favorite book as a kid?

My favorite book as a kid was Green Eggs and Ham. My parents moved from Wisconsin to Washington a few years before I was born and I thoroughly delighted in my grandparents’ visits every other year. Grandpa would read this book to me over and over. I loved it! As a teenager, my favorite book was Of Mice and Men. It was the first book that made me cry.

When not reading a book or volunteering for SAL, where can we find you?

When I’m not volunteering for SAL you can find me spending time with my family and my dog, Ole. He and I take a good 4-mile walk every day. I adore him! In addition, I love spending time at our beach home on Camano Island. I also do volunteer work for Bellevue Lifespring and spend a good deal of time in the summer working on my golf game to no avail. I have made some incredible friendships doing both of these last things and those friends often join me at SAL events.

 What is your personal motto or hidden talent?

We were recently asked at our board retreat what we feel is our purpose in life (or hidden talent). I am able to muster the courage to show kindness to others even in difficult situations. My motto is, “You never know what someone is going through,” so I try to show extra patience or offer a friendly gesture whenever possible.

Thank you, Nancy, for all you do!

Posted in SAL Staff/BoardWords Matter2019/20 SeasonBehind the Scenes