Interview with Heather Duffin

Heather Duffin is the new Operations Manager with private office member, Northwest Entrepreneur Network. Here's what makes her tick.


Q: Who are you? Introduce yourself as you would at a dinner party.

A: Hey there. I’m Heather Duffin. I grew up in Redmond (please don’t cringe), and have left the state four times by way of Phoenix, Flagstaff, a no-name town in Kentucky and North Carolina, and most recently Charlotte, NC. After five years away, I moved back to the city (not the Eastside, so can I stay?) two months ago to take my current position as Operations Manager at Northwest Entrepreneur Network (NWEN). I am beyond thrilled to be back! I’m all about being out in nature, Benicio (the giant pony dog that you’ve probably seen following me around the Hub), my friends, the random fun and oddities you can find in the little things, music, movies, and travel-sized toiletries. I do not handle boredom well at all.

Oh my god, that sounded like a dating profile…which I’ve NEVER done before.


Q: What is your background? How does it differ from what you are doing now? 

A: My background is in business administration and operations with an emphasis on marketing and accounting. I’ve done this for a vast array of both non-profit and for-profit organizations. I’ve worked for organizations varying from concert production, theatre, the first organic golf course, and research fundraising. Awhile back I made the decision to go back to non-profits, where my heart is, and have stayed put in that realm since.

While I’m carrying all this into my current position at NWEN, the world of entrepreneurship is a whole new expedition for me and I sometimes need an interpreter. It’s been so exciting though, and I love being a part of an organization that cheers on awesome startups and can help steer them to the right people to make their dreams come to fruition! 


Q: What are you working on right now?

A: NWEN has been through a lot of transition recently. Barrie Cohen (Executive Director) and I are working on getting to know the organization, the history, and our supporters. We’re looking to find a way to best support the entrepreneurial community while standing by our mission of “Inspiration, Education and Connection.” How are we doing this? By looking at fun, sassy ways to revamp our events, finding the right people you want to hear from via speaker presentations, mentorships and connections. And of course, provide the resources to educate folks along their path with their startup. We are wide open to listening to what this community’s needs and interests are from us, and how we can best serve them. 


Q: How do you make money?

A: Picking pennies up off the street, and working for NWEN.


Q: What is something that really excites you right now (a trend, life development, time of year, food, etc)?

A: I just moved back to Seattle after a five-year stint living in Charlotte, NC, so the things that excite me right now are getting back to all the things I missed about the city - everything from the music scene that I love, the texture of the landscape and hiking, to food that isn’t fried or from a chain restaurant. I just love this city, which is why I keep moving back here. I’d love to spout off some great new something-something about this and that in the world that excites me, but shamefully I hardly have had time to read the news and the only thing playing on the TV at my house seems to be Dinosaur Train since my roommate has a 4-year old that is obsessed with it.


Q: You have $10M to spend in the next year, and you can’t spend it on you, your friends or your family. How do you spend it?

A: At first thought, I would want to take care of all the awesome people in my life! However, I’m going to find a loophole. Having watched the nonprofits I’ve worked for have less and less philanthropic support through private donors, grants, etc., I would divvy it up amongst all of them to support their endeavors and give back to the amazing opportunities I had with them.

I’d also give the paperboy from Better Off Dead his $2.


Q: What’s on the horizon for you (a new project, career path, personal development)?

A: As mentioned earlier, NWEN is going through a revitalization process. We want to find ways to better support and engage our current supporters through means that are new and different, while fulfilling their needs. We’re also looking to find ways to tap into our community and embrace them in finding their direction.

The other day we were in the newly acquired Impact Hub space that will be opening up soon. I learned about some of the history of the building, which was really cool and exciting to me! As we toured through, there was this one room with exposed brick and a swatch of archaic wallpaper on it (Editor's note: The wallpaper is from days past when the next-door building was an old hotel!). It got me thinking of the comparison between the renovation of this great, old building and what we’re going through here at NWEN. This organization has been around since 1985 and I’ve had the privilege of getting to hear people’s stories about how NWEN helped them in the past and to see where they are now with their businesses. We’ve begun the process of hearing what worked and what didn’t, and now we get this amazing opportunity to say, “Okay, we’re going to keep the elements that are sturdy and useful and really beautiful, while keeping the foundation. Yet, we’re going to build this into it, and spruce up this piece.” I’m excited to see where it takes us, and how we can better support the entrepreneurial community.


Q: Where do you usually hang out when you are at Impact Hub? How often are you here?

A: I’m in the NWEN office in the back hall of the 2nd floor, eavesdropping on your phone conversations being had in our hall. You seriously did WHAT on Friday? If you bring me a space heater (Brrrr!), I promise not to tell.



Two questions that we ask every member...

Q: What is something we don’t know?

A: I know the Ewok Song from Return of the Jedi. I really do! I need to remember that this is more nerdy than impressive.


Q: Give us your top three Seattle gems! 

A: Since I haven’t had time to go out and explore all the awesome things that are up since I moved away, I have to go with my oldies, but goodies.


Contact Heather at [email protected]