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Meet the Redmond Historical Society Board & Staff

Society Officers

John Oftebro


Deborah Oftebro


Laura Lee Bennett

Executive Vice-President

Position Available!

Vice-President, Finance

Position Available!

Vice-President, Collections

Directors at Large

Jo Ann Potter

Volunteer Coordinator

Ed O'Brien

Paige Norman


Hank Myers

Business Membership Liaison 

Deb Akerstrom

Staff and Support

Halee Turner

Manager, Administration and Collections

Teresa Potter

Graphic Designer

Advisory Council

Chris Himes

Chuck Diesen

Michael Nelson

Diana Morelli

Panfilo Morelli

Joe Townsend



John Oftebro

John is a Washington native and Redmond resident since 1974. After graduating with a pharmacy degree from WSU, John practiced in the Seattle area until joining Kelley-Ross Pharmacy in downtown Seattle. During his ownership over the next 34 years, John grew the business to six locations with a diversity of services including compounding, hospice, and long-term care, and was an early adopter of numerous practice advancements and technology applications. He also devoted time to mentor interns, externs, establish a community residency program at Kelley-Ross and currently teaches an entrepreneurial class at WSU.

John’s early involvement in pharmacy associations led to co-founding and past presidency of the North King County and Eastside local associations, board member and past president of the Washington State Pharmacy Association. He is a past president of the American College of Apothecaries (ACA), and held memberships in APhA, NCPA and other pharmacy organizations as well as holding leadership positions in his church and various community organizations.

Since retiring in 2008, John remains active in volunteer work and has been the president of the Washington State Pharmacy Foundation since 1988. He also serves as a WSU Foundation Trustee and is a member of the WSU Dean’s Advisory Committee at the College of Pharmacy.

John has served the Society as Vice President Finance for the two-year term, 2017-2018.

Deborah Oftebro

Deborah was raised in Arlington Heights, IL.  She graduated in Nursing from Northern Illinois University, and worked predominately on psychiatric units in Chicago, then at Valley Medical Center & Harborview once relocating to Seattle. She then became a Hospital Risk Management Consultant for the WA Hospital Liability Insurance Fund traveling to 76 member hospitals for 9 years.  After that, she became Overlake Hospital’s inhouse Risk Manager for 5 years.  She then joined John’s Kelley-Ross Pharmacy group to help out wherever needed as a Tech and as an RN.

She was a Hopelink volunteer for about 14 years, and has been Secretary of the Redmond Historical Society since 2019.  Currently she is an Emergency Preparedness Block Leader, a member of several interest groups, enjoys all programs about health & wildlife, and walks the numerous trails in her Trilogy Community.  She also enjoys her 4 grandchildren, gardening and traveling.

Paige Norman

Paige Norman joined the board as Director at Large, Membership in May of 2018 and has been a member of Redmond Historical Society since 2016. Paige has been involved in the Redmond community since moving here in 1987; including Cub and Boy Scouts, her sons’ sports teams, and auction chair for Faith Lutheran School. She became a business member of the Redmond Historical Society in 2016 when she was running her own Personal Chef and catering business. Paige is a nanny for several school-age children, volunteers for church youth group and is secretary for First Baptist Church of Redmond. With co-chair, John Oftebro, she organized the 2018 and 2019 Auction and Dinner; loves the Saturday Speaker Series program and is looking forward to helping the Society grow in membership!

Ed O'Brien

-- U.S. Navy Supply Corps Officer, 1963 - 1966, Attained rank of Lieutenant

-- Auditor, Arthur Andersen & Co., 1962 - 1963 and 1966 - 1971, Certified Public Accountant
Partner, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer, Lincoln Property Company, 1971 - 1991
Sr. Vice Pres. & Chief Financial Officer, Vail Resorts Development Company, 1993 - 1999
Exec. Vice President--Real Estate Development, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, 1999 - 2001

Community Service--
Trustee, Washington State University Foundation, 1982 - 1998
Director, Delta Dental Plan of California, 1991 - 1997
Director, Colorado Ski Museum and Colorado Ski Hall of Fame, 1993 - 1998
Director, Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis, 1997 - 2002
Director, Chairman and Interim CEO, Vail Valley Medical Center, 1998 - 2009
Director and Chairman, Eagle River Fire Protection District, 2003 - 2012

Recreational Enjoyments--
Skiing and Water Skiing
Travel and Photography

Graduate of Washington State University with a BA in Business Administration-- emphasis in Accounting, 1962

JoAnn Potter

Jo Ann Potter is a native of Upstate New York and graduated from the State University of New York/Oswego with a B.S. in elementary education. Boise, Idaho, was her first teaching position. When her husband, Dale, entered the University of Idaho as a junior, she completed a Master of Education degree. Upon graduation she taught in the Moscow, Idaho, School District. Dale then enrolled in the graduate School of Forestry at the University of Washington. During that time a daughter was born. In 1970, they moved to Redmond, first to Education Hill, where a son was born, and then to Rose Hill. Jo Ann returned to school at Seattle University for one year and got a fifth year certification in Montessori Education teaching in a Montessori school while her children were in preschool. For eight years she taught third and fifth grades in the Overlake Christian Church Day School. Returning to public education, she taught in the Lake Washington School District at Horace Mann on Education Hill and Lakeview in Kirkland. After 20 years of teaching, she was offered the position of Office Manager /Executive Assistant in the operations department of Overlake Christian Church. After two years, her husband’s employment involved traveling all over the country; she resigned to join him. Overlake then asked her to return temporarily during an administration transition. It was during this time that the Potters joined the newly organized Redmond Historical Society. In the beginning, Naomi Hardy, our founder, led very informal meetings. We met in the cabin at Anderson Park; about 20 people sat around tables, many of whom were the children or grandchildren of the pioneers, and told wonderful first person narratives of Redmond in the “old days.” The Society grew quickly and soon moved to the Old Schoolhouse. Jo Ann became hospitality/membership person. In those days, everyone did everything! When she was blessed with four grandchildren in five years, two of whom lived in Florida, she decided to “retire.” She and her husband were snowbirds for 14 years in Florida and attended meetings when home. In 2019 they decided to stay in Redmond year round. “Our first event when we came home was the Speak Easy Dinner. What a great way to become involved in the Redmond Historical Society again!”

Laura Lee Bennett

Laura Lee grew up in Ohio, but moved “out West” in 1979. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon. In 1983 she moved from Eugene to the Bay Area to write. Determined to become the first female Raymond Carver, she published a short story or two, but work was scarce and she pined for the Pacific Northwest. In 1984 she moved to Seattle and married her college sweetheart. The ceremony was held on the 1930s-era Skansonia ferry that was docked in Lake Union. After stints as a proofreader and copy editor at Seattle Weekly and local trade papers, she was hired as a production editor at Microsoft. Meanwhile, she continued to feed her writing habit by attending open mics at Red Sky Poetry Theater. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, she also became involved in the local arts scene, writing reviews for Reflex, a visual arts rag that covered art and happenings in Seattle, Portland, and Boise.

After five years at Microsoft, Laura Lee moved to Portland for a change of scene. However, despite her love of Oregon and the arts there, Seattle drew her back. This time, she landed in Redmond as a freelance technical editor, and began volunteering for local arts and professional organizations. She joined the board of directors of Redmond Association of Spokenword (RASP) in 2002. From 2003 to 2005, she organized the annual literary arts festival, Write Out Loud!, including an open mic poetry competition at the Old Fire House Teen Center. She continues to be involved with RASP as a member of its Advisory Council, and since 2014, she has coordinated volunteers for Redmond’s annual Poets in the Park festival. In addition to arts organizations, she also served as Programs Manager for the Puget Sound Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication, procuring speakers and venues for its monthly chapter meetings.

In 2015, she became involved with Venues for Artists in the Local Area (VALA), and served as a steward at the gallery space in Redmond Town Center for two years. In 2018 and 2019, she directed the Redmond Arts Festival, an annual arts and crafts fair during the same July weekend as Derby Days. She currently serves on the VALA board as Events Coordinator.

Since 2016, Laura Lee has volunteered for Redmond Historical Society, and briefly worked in the office as Administrative Manager. Since 2017, she has edited the Society newsletter, The Redmond Recorder, and serves on the Membership and Programs committees.

Through all of these experiences, she has found great satisfaction through community engagement. She has also discovered the joys of performance, whether introducing a speaker or reading a poem. She believes in the galvanizing power of storytelling to keep history alive.

Deb Akerstrom

Deb Akerstrom moved to Redmond in 1977….with her husband and two daughters.
In 1979 she was hired as a reporter for the Sammamish Valley News and then named editor in 1980. In that role, she was actively involved in Redmond civic events. During her tenure, the paper won five awards. Large events at the time included a battle over the controversial Evergreen East shopping center, and, of course, the location of Microsoft in Redmond.

After the paper closed in 1990, she furthered her career in the employment recruiting industry.
That career held her attention for 10 years….until her best friend talked her into pairing together to form an interior design team. After being named Best Interior Designers on the Eastside by the then-newspaper Journal American, their business, “Arrangements” took off and kept going until retirement beckoned!

In addition to work and family, Deb also volunteered with Hopelink for a number of years.

Deb grew up in “farm country” in Illinois, finished at Bradley University in English and Art before marrying and moving to Los Angeles, and ultimately ending up in Redmond.

She is excited to join RHS as a board member….and looks forward to contributing to this fine organization.


Laura Lee
Deb A
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