Meet the New FHA Membership Co-Chairs

Jill (l., with Imogen) and Lisa  |  photo and post by Christina Leimer

The new FHA Membership Committee Co-Chairs are raring to go. Lisa McNelley and Jill Sherman, Main Dock neighbors and friends, have teamed up. They’re excited about their new role and see lots of opportunity for enhancing FHA visibility that will be both useful and fun.

“We want to go beyond parties to education and being a resource,” Lisa says. “We saw how much the community was impacted by the blackout,” Jill adds. “No refrigerators, no running water. We’re thinking about ways of helping people be more connected and get access to resources.”

The pair plans to survey residents to find out what we want, what we need and ideas that the FHA can meet. Of course, they have some possibilities in mind already.

Some of the Co-Chairs’ Ideas

  • Expand Membership: Currently, FHA members make up about half of floating home berths. If you’re not a member, how about joining? Membership is open to both homeowners and renters. It costs $35 per year and Lisa and Jill will be happy to fill you in on the benefits. They’ll be reaching out.
  • Resource Sharing: Given the cost and storage requirements, “there’s been talk about sharing tools and talk about sharing kayaks,” Lisa says. What about becoming a sharing community?
  • Practical Education: When you live on the docks, there are things you need to know that you don’t when you’re land based. Like how to manage water and power shutoffs, especially for renters. And for homeowners, how to maintain your boat. Would this kind of information be helpful to you?
  • Census: Knowing who lives on which boat, their family members and pets, makes it easier to help in emergencies. Lisa says Dock Reps have an idea about each boat, but that information needs to be updated.
  • Staying Informed: The  Floating Times newsletter is the FHA’s primary communication tool, but not all residents subscribe. How about an annual newsletter push, either opt in or opt out, to increase readership?
  • Broaden Community: People tend not to talk between docks, they say. Interest groups may change that. For example, arts and crafts group, reading group, game night, parents group, artists group. Interested?

Besides co-chairing, Jill and Lisa have a lot in common. Both are professionals, married and mothers, both love spending time outdoors, and both are making big changes in their lives.

About Lisa

“When I turned 50, I decided to re-create myself.” She’s earning a degree in counseling psychology at the California Institute for Integral Studies (CIIS). “It’s really challenging. I’m with a bunch of 30-somethings. I’m the old chick in the room and it’s weird.”

But she loves the CIIS philosophy that we’re all spiritual beings trying to be whole. “They’re very conscious and oriented to social justice, inclusivity and diversity,” she says. “It’s eye-opening to see all the nuances I grew up with, the taken-for-granted privilege. It’s been life changing to see and accept people for who they are.”

Lisa is specializing in helping kids and families through divorce and plans to start a practice in 3-4 years when she finishes the program.

This isn’t Lisa’s first career shift though, and she’s got multiple talents. For several years she worked in marketing, for tech companies and the University of California at San Francisco, and in financial services positions.

After her son Marc was born, 16 years ago, she studied interior design, then took on both commercial and residential projects. “It was fun but there wasn’t much money in it,” she says. “I felt like I was a therapist just doing my job. People told me I saved their marriage when they couldn’t agree on the design.”

Lisa and her family have lived on the docks for 8 years. Along with her husband, son and teenage stepson Zach, they split their time between the docks and Michigan. She’s often opened her floating home for tours.

“I’m feeling the need to get my hands in the dirt,” Lisa says, wiggling her fingers. Landscaping, beautification, painting murals, kayaking, running and hiking are all activities she enjoys. “When I walk to Marin City, that corridor needs weeds pulled. It sounds so Martha Stewart, but how about a weeding party?”

About Jill

Jill has lived on the docks about a year. “I had my first little water baby here, Imogen,” she says, snuggling with her 6-week old daughter. Her son Dashiell, aka Dash, is 5 ½.

Jill and her husband are native New Yorkers. They sold their apartment in Brooklyn and rented their floating home. Growing up, her family spent winters in Arizona, but this is her husband’s first time living away from the East Coast. “We’re really happy here. We’re taking advantage of the outdoor experiences, the headlands, the vineyards, kayaking and skiing,” she says.

For about 13 years, Jill worked in luxury fashion. She moved to Asia for five years and did a lot of backpacking there. “The Prada CEO was in town yesterday and he was shocked I went from Prada to a houseboat,” she says smiling.

Really, the idea of floating home living wasn’t such a foreign concept. Her father lived on one about 10 years ago and he’s the person who introduced her to the idea. Jill wasn’t the first of her three siblings to move to the San Francisco Bay Area, but now her parents and a brother, a sister and their families all live here.

Jill runs a home-based startup with a team that spans three continents: the U.S., South America and Europe. She launched her company, a software platform that connects e-commerce businesses to suppliers, after graduating with an MBA from MIT.

“When the sun is out, you’ll find me next to my computer outside,” she says. “Working from home, it can be lonely. But here, I can put my computer on the table outside, people walk by, some bring food. It’s just a beautiful experience being here.”

Why Co-Chair?

“We thought it would be fun to do together.”

Both Jill and Lisa see co-chairing the Membership Committee as an opportunity to meet more people and bring people together.  “We see tremendous value in coming together and creating community,” Lisa says.

If you attend the FHA annual meeting and dinner on February 29, look them up. In the meantime, watch for their survey.