Fort Worden Hospitality Appoints Matt Gurney as CEO -

Long-time industry leader brings unmatched expertise to the position

Port Townsend, WA – Dec 9, 2022 – Fort Worden Hospitality, which manages accommodations, restaurants, catering and venues at Fort Worden State Park, is pleased to announce the appointment of Matt Gurney as the incoming chief executive officer. Gurney is an industry veteran whose career includes consulting for community-based enterprises, establishing restaurants and catering business, and most recently over two decades in leadership at Farestart in Seattle.

“We are thrilled beyond measure to have someone of Matt’s caliber leading Fort Worden Hospitality and helping us chart a course for the future,” Board Chair Wendy Davis said. “This is an exciting and important time in the organization’s evolution, as we expand the leadership team and reimagine FWH offerings. Matt is an innovative and enthusiastic leader who deeply appreciates our community and our role in ensuring visitors have the best experience possible at Fort Worden.”

Gurney served as the president of the Fort Worden Hospitality board of directors during its critical conceptualization and launch period, helping to secure the necessary funding to create a stand-alone entity. He dedicated countless hours to supporting the organization’s co-directors in executing a seamless transition while delivering exceptional service to the Fort’s visitors and guests.

“I have seen first-hand the hard work and dedication necessary to get Fort Worden Hospitality off the ground and achieve so much in its first year,” Gurney said. “Under the leadership of our co-directors and board, and the dedication of our staff, we exceeded expectations for 2022. I am excited to have the opportunity to build on that success and continue to grow Fort Worden Hospitality into a stable and fun employer, trusted community partner, and amazing provider of food and lodging to our guests and the community.”

Gurney’s appointment is effective January 15, 2023.

About Fort Worden Hospitality
Fort Worden Hospitality manages accommodations, restaurants, catering and venues, at Fort Worden State Park. The nonprofit organization was established in 2021 to focus on the guest experience and ensure the spirit of the Fort is evident in all hospitality offerings. With more than 65 employees, FWH has bold new ideas for the future of hospitality services, such as amenity offerings, community engagement and place based experiences for all visitors. The organization’s service philosophy is rooted in the beloved state park, featuring comfortable vacation housing, rustic locally sourced food, conference/meeting/special occasion amenities and a variety of activities for individuals, groups and families to enjoy.

About Matt Gurney, Fort Worden Hospitality CEO

As a leader in the hospitality industry, Matt Gurney has dedicated the majority of his career to fostering sustainable enterprises. He has worked as a thought partner and consultant on many hospitality and social impact projects, supporting dozens of small businesses and social enterprises with everything from start-up planning, financial modeling and construction development, to process improvement and job training integration. Matt approaches his work with a passion for building community and collaboratively achieving a shared vision.

Matt has established and enhanced multiple restaurants; event, venue and corporate catering; and childcare and shelter meals. After graduating from the Western Culinary Institute, Matt joined Farestart, a Seattle-based food service job training program. Matt spent over two decades with the organization, leading several revenue generating businesses. Matt’s most recent role as a chief innovation officer combined his entrepreneurial spirit, curiosity and commitment to customers and community. 

Matt has volunteered his expertise on several boards of directors, including Aquatic Resources Conservation and Bike Works. Over the last two years, he has served as the board president of Fort Worden Hospitality, a newly established nonprofit organization founded to manage the accommodations, restaurants, catering and venues at Fort Worden State Park. With his leadership and support, the organization secured seed funding and has launched an ambitious plan to enhance hospitality offerings at the Fort.

Matt is a Port Townsend resident and has been actively involved in the community for over 20 years. 


Jefferson Community Conservation Corps Announces Project Partnership with Fort Worden Foundation -

Putting folks back to work using private funding while serving a major public asset can succeed, say advisors working to create the Jefferson Community Conservation Corps (“JCCC”). This group of Port Townsend volunteers announces a new community employment program to support economic recovery while benefiting a landmark destination on the Olympic Peninsula.

“What can we do to reduce suffering on the local level while improving the quality of life for all in our community? How can we retain local workers who would otherwise relocate out of the area? And how can we conserve a public space at the same time?” asks organizer Matilda Henry. “A Civilian Conservation Corps, paid by the US Treasury, once put millions of unemployed citizens back to work during a dark Depression. Let’s put our hearts, minds, and resources into a rapid response to our current local crisis and, like the ‘mutual aid’ societies springing up all across the country, solve part of the problem ourselves,” adds Lori Bernstein, another JCCC member.

JCCC’s premiere initiative is to gather donations and grants to hire workers for projects at the Fort Worden State Park campus that meet a community need, enhance public spaces, and support the non-profit organization managing the projects; it’s like the Civilian Conservation Corps, but with local control and private funding.

The JCCC is partnering with the Fort Worden Public Development Authority (‘FWPDA’) and its fundraising Fort Worden Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit, to fund part of the staff necessary for reopening business on the campus at the Fort. The FWPDA, a driver of regional economic activity, suffered loss of income and staff due to the closure of operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The historic facilities and grounds will need cleaning and maintenance to make the campus safe, comfortable, and attractive when reopened and thereafter to maintain that condition. This partnership is an opportunity to develop a sustainable jobs program, raise awareness, and generate wide support.

This premiere JCCC campaign will pay strictly local workers; $35K can fund a crew of 10 for one month of full-time employment through the FWPDA. JCCC organizers have donated seed money, and a crowdfunding effort is now underway.

In addition to donations, the JCCC seeks volunteers to develop its own fundraising organization and programs.

More information is available on the Jefferson Community Conservation Corps Facebook page and at the Fort Worden Jobs Project fundraiser page. Contact JCCC at for more information.

Jefferson Community Conservation Corps
Matilda Henry and the JCCC Advisory Group 360-865-4137