By Laura Kleppe, President

When I think of the word community, I think of my family. I was the middle child of a large family, and we frequently moved as I grew up. My siblings became my first, valued, and treasured community as we moved from coast to coast. As I went off to school and, later, corporate work, I found my supportive 'team', who became a foundational part of my professional growth. In 2003, as a young mom, I launched my solo landscape design+build business. I knew that successfully working on my own would require a larger community as a springboard for continued growth, meaningful collaboration, and the skills not covered in my design+build degree. So, I went looking for a community of like-minded professionals. I met Tina Nyce, FAPLD, one of our state chapter's founding members, fellow mom and small business owner. She introduced me to the many tools I still use today, and this wonderful organization called APLDWA that I have come to love and support the last 15 years.

Over these 15 years I have witnessed an organization that celebrates creativity, supports the entrepreneurial spirit of its members and lifts business owners to new levels of professionalism. How do we do it? Through community. For me, that means being involved, volunteering, showing up in-person and sometimes virtually. It also means helping others, sharing our talents, and raising the bar for each other through collaboration. My experience has been that APLDWA routinely focuses on lifting the newest members among us so that they can be successful too! It is all about elevating the profession and passing along tips, tricks and industry standards that help enhance an individual's personal business growth.

Those who know me know I am a bit of an extravert, and stepping up to volunteer has generally been easy for me. I like people. When I started volunteering, I didn't realize how much this community would give back to me and, in the process, how it would accelerate my career.

As President of APLD for 2024, my goal is to continue to build a community where everyone can experience this in any manner of participation.

This new role of President is a bit daunting for me; with over 100 members from Gig Harbor to the Islands to Snohomish to Wenatchee, there are many new facets to consider for maintaining engagement in our growing ranks.

I invite you to join the board and me in building a tighter, more meaningful community and stewarding this awesome organization for the next year and beyond. I welcome your feedback, ideas, and active engagement. You can email me here anytime:

The good news is that I won't be steering alone. Our 2024 APLDWA board is a fantastic group of talented members/business owners. I encourage you to get to know them and their amazing work. I believe we are all stronger and better together. I am looking forward to seeing what we will all create in 2024!

President—Laura Kleppe

President-Elect—Lara Vyas

Past President—Sue Goetz

Treasurer—Robert Hobart

Secretary—Kryssie Maybay

Member at Large—Jason Jorgensen

Member at Large—Vince Mack