News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

C4C names executive director

Kellen Klein was chosen as the new full-time executive director of Citizens4Community (C4C) as of mid-November. He has been serving as the interim director for the past five-and-a-half months, and recently signed a two-year contract with the board.

Klein said he is honored and thrilled with his new position.

"I've been telling folks that it feels like I'm getting paid to do the community building I'd want to do anyway," he said. "It perfectly aligns with my passion for tackling complex, systemic challenges through grassroots, place-based relational work. C4C is quite a unique organization – firmly dedicated to Sisters Country, but nimble enough to adapt to the current needs of our community – and I'm excited to see where we can go in the coming months and years."

C4C board president Sarah McDougall told The Nugget, "When it came time to hire a permanent executive director, because of his successes with C4C this year, we offered Kellen first chance at going through our hiring process. We're thrilled that Kellen accepted the permanent position. The plan is to continue growing our programs with intention, meanwhile solidifying behind-the-scenes operations. "Klein, his wife, and two young children (ages 6 and 3) made the move from Portland to Sisters after several visits during the pandemic, when they made some serendipitous connections with locals. They bought a house in ClearPine at the northwest corner of Sisters. They believe Sisters is a great place to raise kids and build community.

Klein's earlier C4C board membership and his stint as interim director, as well as extensive previous work experience with corporate mediation, matchmaking, and relationship building among diverse interests, make him a perfect fit for the organization's leadership. He is skilled at forging common ground and collaboration between corporations, non-profits, investors, and other key changemakers.

As the only paid staff member of C4C, the vast majority of the organizational responsibilities will be his.

Klein explained, "I'll be handling all day-to-day operations - program development and implementation, event planning and facilitation, community engagement, fundraising, finances, impact measurement, marketing and communications, etc. I'll also be working hand-in-hand with our board of directors to hone and implement our longer-term strategic plan."

Regarding the board, Klein said, "I want to emphasize that our board members are amazing and are constantly lending their time and expertise to support the organization. It is truly a 'working board,' and I couldn't do this job without them. I'm also supported by several contractors and great working relationships with the City of Sisters and a slew of local organizations like the school district, SPRD, Explore Sisters, and countless nonprofits."

C4C board members include McDougall, president, Jane Paxson, vice president, Bruce Rognlien, Jaclyn Kordell, James Barnett, Scott Crabtree, and Adam Koller.

Klein indicated that he and the board have lots of ideas for the future of C4C, but they are practicing moderation to ensure they won't expand too quickly. Their current mantra is "do less, better," focusing on quality over quantity. There are several exciting developments in the works.

In the spring of 2024, C4C will be launching a Civic Leadership Academy in partnership with the City of Sisters. The program will offer a six-week crash course in local government operations, leadership skills, collaborative decision-making, and stakeholder engagement. A key goal will be to cultivate a more robust and diverse slate of future leaders for the community, well-positioned to serve on City Council, advisory boards, and in other local organizational leadership positions. Community members should see more announcements and recruitment ramp-up in early 2024.

The "Banner Project" is being relaunched, which will celebrate Sisters High School's graduating seniors on photo banners hung from light posts downtown. This project started during the COVID-19 pandemic when in-person celebrations were more difficult, but was curtailed last year. Since then, C4C has heard from a lot of people who missed this annual celebration of hometown pride, so they are partnering with some parent volunteers to bring it back.

More broadly, C4C is exploring ways to facilitate relationship building and dialog among a wider array of community members.

Klein said, "We can't come together to solve hard problems if we aren't already in relationship with one another. Social connection is a core human need, and we want to ensure that our programs are helping everyone feel like they belong and can thrive in Sisters Country. So, we're brainstorming ways to diversify our events lineup, explain our partnerships with other community organizations, and increase program accessibility by offering child care, transportation, interpretation and translation, and other services. The board and Klein have plans for a mid-January retreat where details will be firmed up for these projects and many others in the hopper.

Klein would like to encourage Sisters Country residents to "look to C4C as part of the 'connective tissue' that binds our community together. Wherever there are opportunities to bring people together, bridge divides, and collaborate more effectively to solve local challenges – that's where we want to be. Our name says it all – we are an organization driven by and for the citizens of this community. So if you have ideas to make this a better community for all who live, work, and play here, we'd love to hear from you. Send your feedback to [email protected]."

Everyone is invited to come together for a free, family-friendly holiday singalong on Thursday, December 21, to serenade local seniors at The Lodge in Sisters (411 E. Carpenter Ln.) from 4 to 4:45 p.m. then head over to The Barn for more carols and cocoa from 5 to 6 p.m. More details are available at


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