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Yellow Tree Story

After 17 years in nonprofit and political work, Yellow Tree founder Skye Schell is putting what he's learned to work for a wider range of world-changing organizations.

2005-2008: SOCIAL CHANGE

Skye began his career working in social change in big cities out East: refugee resettlement around Washington DC, case management at a soup kitchen in Brooklyn NY, and with people living on the streets of Brooklyn. These experiences drove Skye to learn the practice of community organizing.



Arriving in Seattle during the crash of 2008, Skye found work as a barista and LSAT instructor, then worked his way up at two land trusts. Skye learned grassroots organizing, community engagement, and policy advocacy in projects with local leaders in cities and rural towns, and with Tribes on the Olympic coast. Skye also learned policy analysis and supported equitable housing and transportation initiatives around the region.


Skye moved to Jackson WY to launch a voter engagement program at the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance. Skye trained activists, built up a voter database, ran field programs and won ballot measures, and led land-use policy development. Skye also served on the Teton County Housing Authority board and oversaw housing development projects.



After Skye's longtime mentor left the executive director role at the Alliance, the board selected Skye to take the reins. As director, Skye rebuilt the organization's financial stability, staff capacity, fundraising, and IT systems - and led the largest ballot measure in the Alliance's history, $10M for wildlife crossings. Skye also co-founded Jackson's only housing advocacy organization (and only 501(c)4 organization) ShelterJH, and served as board secretary and treasurer.


In early 2022, Skye followed a long-time dream and launched his own company, Yellow Tree Strategy. Skye hopes to grow Yellow Tree over time into an effective vehicle for building grassroots capacity and strategic action among people and organizations working to make the world a better place.


Three yellow trees

In parallel to learning community organizing, Skye spent time in wild spaces to connect more deeply to the world, and to find sources of energy and courage to change unjust systems. Three yellow trees changed his life. He got to know Ponderosa Pine (the "yellow pine") while working as a backpacking guide in northern New Mexico. He discovered the Larch of Eastern Washington on climbing trips with close friends. And in his current home in Wyoming, the Aspen boldly signals the change of seasons. All these trees conjure Annie Dillard's "tree with the lights in it" - the wonder-filled direct mystical experience of life - and ground our work.

Prusik Peak and Ben Horne
Tukwila conversation (Danny Ngan) webres (151).jpg
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