When Rene’ Carroll received a phone call concerning the Citizen of the Year award, her first thought was, “Oh, I should have nominated Randy Curtis.”
As it turns out, they were thinking along the same lines. Curtis had actually nominated Carroll for the honor, awarded annually by the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce.
“I was actually expecting a call from (Brent Erickson, chamber of commerce executive director) about a different issue,” Carroll said. “When he told me I had been named Citizen of the Year, I was surprised and humbled.”
She will be honored Wednesday, June 3 at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet, along with Art McCallum, Business Person of the Year, and Educator Teams of the Year from the Camas and Washougal school districts.
In a press release from the Chamber of Commerce, it noted Carroll’s long history in the community and leadership qualities.
“Rene’ Carroll is continually focused on making the community a better place to live,” it stated. “Two recent examples of her outstanding citizen leadership are helping the Washougal School District pass a $57 million bond measure and helping to organize the Downtown Washougal Association to become part of the Washington Main Street program.”
Curtis and Carroll got to know each other because of his work with the Washougal School District and downtown association. He chaired the district’s long range planning committee, which determined the list of projects for the $57 million bond measure that voters ultimately passed in February.
“Especially, I was impressed with (Rene’s) leadership and organizational skills for the “Vote Yes for Safe Schools,” committee,” he said. “The task to promote a $57 million bond issue seemed overwhelming a year ago as the long range planning committee worked through the assessment and needs process…Rene’ was instrumental in pulling this all together.”
The chamber press release also noted Carroll’s book, “Legendary Locals of Camas and Washougal,” which required her to spend two months as a history detective, researching influential people in the area. Her goal was to help local residents have a new sense of pride in Camas and Washougal, and a better understanding of the people who made the city what it is today.
In addition to being a published author, chairing the bond committee and working with the downtown association, Carroll also owns her own business, Rene’ Carroll Consulting and works with the city of Washougal, the Washougal School District and the Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association.
She is a partner in Sweetwater SUP Rentals and organized the first-ever Salmon Classic at Capt. William Clark Park in Washougal in 2014.
Other activities include 14 years of volunteer work with the Two Rivers Heritage Museum, one year as a Washougal Waterfront Park committee member and six months as a Washougal Arts and Cultural Alliance member.
“In considering Rene’ for this award, I realized that it was hard to separate her professional work from her volunteer work,” Curtis said. “Everything I learned about Rene’ told me that the majority of her professional and volunteer activities were focused on serving her community. It was also apparent that she was the kind of person that when asked to serve her community, she would say ‘yes.'”
He continued, “I think it is this kind of leadership and the success she has enjoyed that inspires others to become more active in their community.”
Although the number of different activities Carroll is involved in is lengthy, she finds the time to make it all work.
“I guess it comes down to my excitement about what is happening in Washougal, in terms of community pride and enthusiasm,” she said. “I have seen that both in the school community and in the business community.”
Carroll has a long history in the local area. She grew up in Camas and graduated from Camas High School in 1980. She graduated from Washington State University in Pullman in 1983, then returned to Washougal to raise her family in 1989. She has lived the community ever since.
Her children Tom, 23, and Emily, 22, both attended Washougal schools and earned degrees from WSU Pullman.
Carroll has always enjoyed volunteering and exploring new opportunities. She was a co-founder of the Washougal Schools Foundation and began its signature fundraising event, the Student Stride for Education.
“I like to create things that had not existed before,” she said. “That is what I get the most satisfaction out of. I want to improve the community.”
Carroll is looking forward to the chamber banquet and connecting with people she works with in various areas of her life.
“There are going to be a lot of people I know and work with in many capacities,” she said. “It will be fun to celebrate with all of them, and see the other honorees recognized. I understand this is a Camas and Washougal honor, and I share my love and respect for both communities, their history and their future.”