Jennifer Witherbee
Jennifer Witherbee

The Washington Apple Education Foundation announced in a news release its executive director, Jennifer Witherbee, will step down after 20 years of leading the organization. 

“WAEF is in a great place with loyal donor support, a strong staff, involved industry leaders on the board of directors and a proven track record,” Witherbee said in the release. “I am truly fortunate to have had the opportunity to be part of WAEF for 20 years and couldn’t feel more proud of the impact we’ve had on thousands of students. The timing feels right to step away and allow others to contribute their ideas and energy.” 

Witherbee will assist the board of directors with the search for a new executive director and help ensure a smooth transition.

The foundation’s chairman, Laurie Knebusch, and a committee from the board of directors will lead the search for the new executive director. “We can all proudly hold up WAEF as a shining example of what can be achieved when we all come together for a worthy cause, in large part thanks to Jennifer’s leadership,” Knebusch said in the release. 

Under Witherbee’s direction, scholarship grants grew from just under $100,000 to over $1 million awarded annually. The majority of WAEF scholarship recipients are first-generation college students, and currently over 90 percent meet renewal requirements or graduate each year. More than 200 volunteers participate with WAEF annually. 

“Many years ago, Jennifer Witherbee took over a program that was poised for growth, comparable to a newly planted orchard,” Christian Schlect, an early WAEF board member, said in the release. “Through hard work, vision and a committed board, she helped nurture and expand it into a prime property for our entire tree fruit industry. While Jennifer will be missed, WAEF is solid and will continue bearing good fruit under new leadership.”

For more information about the Washington Apple Education Foundation, visit:

by Jonelle Mejica