Meet the Redmond Historical Society Board & Staff
Directors at Large
Staff and Support
Manager, Administration and Collections
Redmond Library Liaison
John Oftebro, Board President
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, Secretary
Deborah was born and raised in the Chicagoland area, specifically Arlington Heights. She graduated from Northern Illinois University in Nursing. Worked at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital complex in Chicago before moving to Seattle in 1976, where she worked at Valley Medical Center and Harborview in Psychiatry. In 1981 became a Hospital Risk Management consultant for the WA Hospital Liability Insurance Fund traveling the state to 76 member hospitals for 9 years.
For 5 years she worked as Overlake Hospital’s inhouse Risk Mgr. Next she joined the family Kelley-Ross Pharmacy group as a licensed Pharmacy Technician for 10 years! With her nursing background she was able to administer flu shots when pharmacies began their vaccination programs.
Deborah enjoys playing competitive tennis and captains her local SACT Team & one of her USTA Teams. She also enjoys her 4 grandchildren, gardening & traveling. She has been a Hopelink volunteer for about 14 years at their Bellevue location.
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!
ChuNi Kao joined the Redmond Historical Society (RHS) Board as a Director At Large in June 2018. ChuNi moved to Redmond in 1985 and raised her daughter and son here during that time. ChuNi was originally born and raised in Taiwan, Republic of China. She came to the United States to get her Master’s degree in Mathematics at Penn State. Afterwards, she moved to Seattle with her husband, who was getting his PhD at the UW’s Aeronautics and Astronautics program. ChuNi started her career as a Software Engineer and later advanced to tackling engineering management challenges. In 2017, after 17 years at Philips Healthcare, ChuNi retired from being a Director of Software and Services Innovation to focus on her other loves: gardening, history, travel, and the outdoors.
ChuNi also loves to volunteer. She found and managed the Washington Chinese School for over 10 years, teaching children to speak Mandarin. ChuNi also volunteers at the Seattle Chinese Culture and Art Association, and the Seattle King County Clinic. Given ChuNi’s interests and many years in Redmond, serving on the RHS Board as IT Chair seemed like a perfect fit. ChuNi hopes to help RHS modernize its IT operations to enable RHS to attract the next generation of historians.
-- 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
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
Skiing and Water Skiing
Travel and Photography
Graduate of Washington State University with a BA in Business Administration-- emphasis in Accounting, 1962
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!”
John Watson, CPA
John Watson joined the Board as a Board Member at Large in August of 2020. John has been a resident of Redmond since 1996 and his first exposure to the existence of RHS was through the walking tour of the history of Redmond. As time progressed, he became a regular attendee of the Saturday Speaker Series. As he has always had a fascination with history in general, he is ecstatic to be afforded a chance to play a role in learning about, preserving, collecting, and disseminating the history of the city he considers his home. John is an active Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and a graduate from the University of Washington Foster School of Business. He began his career at Moss Adams LLP, transitioning into the private sector with an initial focus on satellite and mobile telecommunications. John worked for a Seattle based non-profit, The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. for ten years, where over time, became the VP of Finance and the primary financial liaison to the Board of Trustees, and it’s sub-committees (Finance/Audit/Investment). John returned to private industry in 2019 and played a crucial role in the acquisition of a domestic commercial aerospace part manufacturing concern by a foreign manufacturing conglomerate.
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.