Power couple arrives in Humboldt County; Susan Tissot and husband Brian Tissot enjoy being involved where they live

Susan Tissot said she and her husband are basically getting their second honeymoon in Humboldt County.

Susan Tissot will soon be the new executive director of the Humboldt Botanical Garden Foundation in Eureka, which has missions that include promoting the study, use and preservation of plants and promoting the use of botanical gardens throughout the community. She was executive director of the Clark County Historical Museum for over 10 years in Vancouver, Wash., and will join her husband, Brian Tissot. He left his 15-year job directing the science programs at Washington State University Vancouver last July to become director of Humboldt State University's marine laboratory in Trinidad.

Susan Tissot said they are thrilled to live in Humboldt County.

"This has been the longest year of my life," said Susan Tissot, who has been an executive director for 15 out of the 27 years she has worked in the nonprofit sector. "We decided to move at separate times because we have a son graduating high school this June. I love the area. It's stunningly gorgeous, with the redwoods and the ocean."

Brian Tissot said he thinks what attracted them most to the county was that they very much like being a part of their community.

"We want to live in a place where we can network really well and get involved," Brian Tissot said. "Living here is an opportunity to connect with a nice community that has a lot of different things going on."

Susan Tissot said they always had a goal to get back to the coastline. The couple moved from Oregon, where they met, to Hawaii, where their children were born, before they moved to Washington for 15 years to be closer to their family.

"We're happiest at the beach," Susan Tissot said. "When the job became available at the university, we jumped at the chance. Brian was very excited. This is something he's always wanted."

Brian Tissot said that HSU has always had a strong marine program, especially now thanks to the newly formed Humboldt Marine and Coastal Science Institute.

"My job involves helping to make sure we have really nice marine facilities, students are getting supported well and finding out from the region what kind of education and outreach needs to be done in terms of marine sciences and address it," he said.

Susan Tissot said she has been canvassing the area for a position since July.

"I'm very excited to begin this position," Susan Tissot said. "It's such a dynamic group, a real diamond in the rough. The garden has huge potential."

Evelyn Giddings, the foundation's board president, said the organization has been looking for the right person to be the next executive director for quite some time, searching the entire U.S. and even England.

"We're very, very excited to have Susan," Giddings said. "We were looking for someone with experience who can work really well with people, has really good leadership experience and is good at fundraising. I think an added bonus is that she will be joining her husband."

The Tissots met in 1987 during a graduate student party at Oregon State University. She was working on her interdisciplinary master's degree in anthropology, museum studies and forest recreation resources, and he was getting his Ph.D. in zoology. They have been married for 26 years. They have two children, and their daughter is attending college.

Jillian Singh can be reached at 441-0509 or Jsingh@times-standard.com