For Aberdeen resident Jennifer Durney, 41, helping others is a natural part of everyday life. She’s always had an interest in helping her community, especially the youth population, and has done just that in many ways in Grays Harbor.
“With our whole family, the adults, it’s basically ‘service above self,'” Jenn says. “Helping out the community, especially helping nonprofits.”
Jenn works hard to make Grays Harbor a better place through her work as an Aberdeen School Board member, operations manager at Durney Insurance, Inc., Rotary Club of Hoquiam treasurer and also a co-captain of an annual fundraiser with the YMCA of Grays Harbor each year.
Jenn is a graduate of Aberdeen High School and grew up attending school in the Aberdeen district despite having moved to Hoquiam at a young age. After high school, she attended Grays Harbor College, then transferred to Washington State University with the intention of having a career in the criminal justice field. After moving back to Grays Harbor, she got back into working part time for the family business at Durney Insurance, Inc. like she had in her teen years. She ultimately made the career decision to move to insurance. She knew that it was the right fit to help her achieve her future goals.
“I fell in love with insurance and helping people make the right choices about proper protection and making sure that they don’t have a catastrophic event happen and lose everything,” Jenn explains.
And she’s been working happily in insurance since, having done so for the last 17 years with her father and younger brother, Patrick, who took over ownership from their father in 2012. She’s also happy with her job as operations manager because it allows her to have a schedule flexible enough to attend any school events that her two daughters, Kaila, 15, and Kylie, 11, may have and also stay closely involved in her several volunteer positions in Aberdeen and Hoquiam.
Jenn is the newest member to join the Aberdeen School Board after being appointed to fill the position for several months before ultimately winning the elected seat. She has been eager to be involved in the meetings and work with the superintendant and other board members.
“I saw that there was a position available and I decided I wanted to run for it,” Jenn says. “I wanted to learn more about what the school board does for not only the community, but for the kids, teachers and the staff at the school district and just to see how all of that works.”
A Family Tradition of Service
Jenn is no stranger to community involvement and witnessed firsthand what it was like to have family members deeply rooted in their town’s local happenings. Her grandfather, Robert (Bob) Durney, was active in the Hoquiam Chamber of Commerce and her father, Jack Durney, has had city positions since the 1970s with stints as both mayor of Aberdeen for two years and then mayor of Hoquiam for 12 years.
“I remember when I filed, I told my dad first,” Jenn says. “And I was so nervous, I don’t like being the center of attention. I just knew I had to do it and this was the time with my daughter getting into high school. So, I told my dad and I don’t think he’s ever been more proud of me than any other thing in my life that I’ve accomplished.”
Her father has nothing but positive things to say about his daughter and their family’s community efforts and involvement. “Jennifer and I like working in a lot of different nonprofits,” Jack says. “It’s been good for us. It’s just fun to help and try to shape the future.”
So far on the school board, Jenn has enjoyed establishing rapports and goals with the superintendant, other board members, teachers, staff and more. She enjoys working as part of a team there. “It’s nice being one of five on the school board because we’re not really singled out to do anything,” Jenn says. “We can’t make decisions on our own, there has to be a quorum.”
Among her pursuits, Jenn also has an active role as treasurer of the Hoquiam rotary for the last two years. The rotary has 23 members that focus on several different services for the community. Things such as scholarships for Hoquiam High School students and park clean ups are some of their involvements.
Helping out the YMCA of Grays Harbor is another passion for Jenn. For the last eight years she has participated in the YMCA Annual Campaign for Scholarships. The campaign funds go toward helping kids go to camp or get into other programs at the Y that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.
Though Jenn dedicates a lot of time to helping the community in an array of ways, what has always comes first for her are her daughters. “I like spending time with my girls,” Jenn says, adding that they all enjoy shopping together. “Girls are fun.”
Jenn also likes spending quality time with her daughters and also her boyfriend of three years, Jace Lundgren, by taking trips a couple of times a year to various locations such as Las Vegas, Mexico and Disneyland.
In her spare time, Jenn also enjoys sports and attending country music concerts with her friends. “I love the Seahawks,” Jenn says. “And going to Sounders games.”
All in all, Jenn plans to continue her efforts in the community with the goal of making Grays Harbor a place that children will want to remain after they’ve reached adulthood, saying that she had an amazing childhood here and loves living here.
“I hope all kids in the community have a good upbringing regardless of their situation,” Jenn says. “And a good education and then they can become productive adults and not have to deal with what some people are dealing with in our area. I don’t think I would live anywhere else.”