Meet our Staff - Columbia Land Trust

Columbia Land Trust strives to employ great people. Our scientists, stewardship staff, conservation practitioners, and advancement team are among the best in their fields. More important, they are connected to their communities and deeply invested in the future of the Northwest. Our staff is committed to working with integrity and listening to many points of view, even those that differ from our own. We believe that it’s only by coming together, by finding common ground with the wonderfully diverse people who live and work in our region, that we all can create a Northwest that will endure.

Directors

Steve Cook

General Counsel

Bio

As our general counsel, Steve brings trenchant legal insight to every aspect of our stewardship and conservation work. He also works closely with our Board of Directors and is responsible for maintaining accreditation. Steve has worked in land conservation for over 15 years, and joined our staff in 2013 after many years of private law practice. Steve loves to hike, grow his own food, cook, and write.

Amy Costello

(she/her)

Chief of Staff

Bio

Amy has worked for nonprofits since 1998, and has been with Columbia Land Trust since 2010. Amy oversees our organizational systems and employee programs. Outside of the office, she likes to spend time with her family.

Cherie Kearney

Forest Conservation Director

Bio

As one of the Land Trust’s first employees, Cherie’s thoughtfulness and experience infuse our work. Today, Cherie is our forestry conservation director, where she puts her collaborative spirit toward conserving working forestland and large landscapes. She’s our go-to person for heading up conservation projects that initially seem complex—or even impossible. Cherie is a runner, boater, hiker, sailor, and all-around lover of life.

Cathy Kellon

Conservation Director

Bio

Cathy joined Columbia Land Trust in 2024 as the Conservation Director, leading our efforts to identify and protect ecologically important lands. She brings 25 years of experience designing and applying strategic approaches to conserve and enhance habitat for native fish, wildlife, and people. At work, Cathy loves finding common ground and a path forward. Outside of work, she loves being with her family and friends, biking, rowing, and discovering that very first ripe tomato in the summer garden.

Meg Rutledge

(she/her)

Executive Director

Bio

Meg Rutledge joined the Land Trust as Executive Director in 2023. With a doctorate in environmental management, she previously served as the Director of Biodiversity Threats at the New Zealand Department of Conservation, and before that led a wildlife NGO in Nelson, New Zealand. Meg values collaborative approaches to conservation that look to integrate livelihoods, cultures, and ecological outcomes. She was drawn to Columbia Land Trust’s reputation for considering people and science as equally important. Meg is a keen trail-runner, and a sometimes cyclist and climber, making the Pacific Northwest the perfect place to explore and conserve.

Ian Sinks

(he/him)

Stewardship Director

Bio

Ian is charged with the care and management of all of Columbia Land Trust’s lands—no small job. From conducting site evaluations to exhaustive long-term management plans to executing complex habitat-restoration projects, Ian makes sure our lands are the best they can be. A Land Trust employee since 2000, he lives with his family in a wooded retreat along Gee Creek in Washington.

Jennifer Wilkerson

(she/her)

Advancement Director

Bio

Jennifer joins our team with nearly two decades of experience in philanthropy and nonprofit communications. She brings great joy and curiosity to this work, and is grateful for the opportunity to get to know Land Trust supporters and grow our community of nature lovers and conservationists. She lives near Cougar Creek in Vancouver with her husband and two children. They stay busy hiking and tending to their hens and garden.

Staff

Jonathan Albarran

(he/him)

Stewardship Assistant

Ramona Arechiga

(She | Her)

Natural Area Manager

Bio

Ramona joined the Land Trust as a Natural Area Manager in December 2022, after working for local and state government in Oregon and California as an ecologist and forester. She holds a M.S. in Forest Resources from Oregon State University. While earning her master’s degree she also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia. Ramona loves to learn the lands she manages and how each property fits into the larger landscape. When not out on a Land Trust site you may find her planting dahlias.

Adam Baek

(he/him)

Stewardship Assistant

Bio

Adam Baek grew up in Portland Oregon with his twin brother and two sisters, always playing games and spending time with friends and family. He enjoys rollerskating, riding motorcycles and (attempts) DJ’ing. Traveling is something important to Adam, and it was because of his trip to Peru that he found a strong interest in conservation. He remembers being in the Amazon rainforest and learning about tradition, culture, and environmental inequity. Outside of work, Adam engages and educates youth as a mentor for the Blueprint Foundation.

Debbie Berthold

(she/her)

Accountant

Bio

Debbie joined the Land Trust in 2015 with 20 years of experience in nonprofit accounting and a passion for the health of our wonderful earth. She’s thrilled to work alongside like-minded folks doing work she cherishes. Outside the office, Debbie loves to walk with her dog, Hannah, and tend to the mini-forest on her apartment balcony.

Amy Borde

(she/her)

Monitoring Program Manager

Bio

Amy joined the Land Trust in early 2023, bringing more than 25 years of experience in tidal wetland research, monitoring, and restoration. She is fascinated by the interaction of hydrology and vegetation, and how this can inform restoration. She has spent many hours in waders and boats collecting data throughout the Columbia River Estuary and is excited to expand this experience to prairie and forest ecosystems. Amy leads our ecological monitoring program and conducts data analysis to inform our strategic management decisions. Outside of the office Amy enjoys hiking, traveling, and gardening.

Theo Bradford

(they/them)

Administrative Assistant

Bio

Theo moved to the Pacific Northwest from Tennessee in 2014 and has since become a lover of outdoor spaces. They joined the Land Trust as the administrative assistant in March 2022. Currently, they are pursuing an undergraduate degree in Sustainability with a focus in Justice Studies while also obtaining a GIS certification. Theo enjoys hiking, rock climbing, camping, reading, and spending time with their three cats.

Peter Condra

(he/him)

Events Manager

Bio

Peter Condra joined Columbia Land Trust in 2022 as Events Manager after working for over a decade in event planning and business administration. His professional origins are in Portland’s music community, as a guitarist and as an event producer formerly at Mississippi Studios and She Shreds Media. In his spare time, he loves planting trees, going to shows, and spending time with his partner Izzy and their dogs.

Kate Conley

(she/her)

Natural Area Manager

Bio

A true champion of collaboration, Kate came to the Land Trust in 2013 after five years leading the Wasco County Watershed Councils. Based out of our White Salmon office, Kate stewards our Oregon-side gorge properties, from rolling hills near The Dalles to Hood River’s Powerdale Corridor near her own backyard. Hula hooping makes Kate happy.

Lindsay Cornelius

(she/her)

East Cascades Oak Partnership Manager

Bio

Since 2002, Lindsay has headed up a wide array of restoration and land-management projects in the East Cascades, including the removal of eight miles of road from the Klickitat River floodplain. A writer and storyteller at heart, Lindsay enjoys exploring with her family and her llamas from her home base in White Salmon.

Max Diaz

(he/him)

Communications Coordinator

Bio

Max comes to Columbia Land Trust from Eugene, OR where he spent the past two years developing an inclusive community program for youth. Raised in the Willamette Valley, Max draws inspiration from the wild places around him and the diverse ecosystems of the Northwest. He is excited to apply his experience to the work of the Land Trust by connecting people to nature and sharing unique conservation stories. In his free time, he enjoys trail running, biking, and traveling with his family.

Marie Ellsworth

(she/her)

Executive Assistant

Bio

Marie joined the Land Trust as Executive Assistant in 2023, providing key support to the Executive Director, leadership team and board of directors. Marie has a passion for community-centered work and comes to the Land Trust after several years of direct service at a local shelter. She is an Oregon State alumna and holds a master’s degree in International Affairs focusing on conflict and peacebuilding from the Geneva Graduate Institute of Switzerland. When not organizing and maintaining schedules, you’ll find her making flower arrangements and spending time with her pup in the family garden.

Kelsey Farabee

(she/her)

Communications Manager

Bio

Kelsey brings several years of nonprofit communications experience to her role with Columbia Land Trust. She is excited to put her skills and creativity to use sharing the Land Trust’s conservation work and stories of the incredible nature and communities of the Columbia River region. She loves exploring the Northwest on foot, skis, paddleboard, or bike!

Helen Gavrilov

(she/her)

Land Steward

Bio

Helen joined Columbia Land Trust in 2019 as the Administrative Assistant. In 2021, she transitioned to the Stewardship Team as a Stewardship Assistant, where she gets to live out her passion for conservation by caring for our conserved lands. Helen recently earned her Bachelor’s degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Science from Oregon State University, with a focus in ecological restoration. Outside of work, she enjoys adventuring outdoors with her family and admiring old-growth forests.

Mariah Jiang

(she/her)

Backyard Habitat Certification Program Coordinator

Bio

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Mariah joined the Land Trust in 2023. She has worked in nonprofit administration since 2016 and is excited to join the Backyard Habitat team to assist gardeners in creating greenspaces that benefit both people and wildlife.

Sanoe Keliinoi

(she/her)

Natural Area Manager

Bio

After joining the Land Trust in 2017, Sanoe worked her way up through the ranks from Stewardship Assistant to Natural Area Manager and now oversees two large, complex properties in the Land Trust’s portfolio. She enjoys the physicality of on-the-ground restoration and revels in the meticulous detail landscape-scale conservation requires. In her spare time, Sanoe is a connoisseur of tequila, master jigsaw puzzler, and massive fútbol fan.

Hannah Kornbrath

(she/her)

Stewardship Program Assistant

Bio

Hannah joined Columbia Land Trust in 2023 after more than a decade working as an environmental educator at several organizations including Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Nisqually Reach Nature Center. She holds a Biology degree from the University of Puget Sound and is glad to return to the Portland/Vancouver area where she grew up. Outside of work, Hannah enjoys birdwatching, jigsaw puzzles, and outdoor adventures with friends and family.

Adam Lieberg

(he/him)

Natural Area Manager

Bio

Adam Lieberg joined the Land Trust as a Natural Area Manager in June of 2022. Prior to settling down at the mouth of the Klickitat River in Lyle, WA, Adam worked as a field biologist monitoring a variety of plants, trees, and critters from the northern Rockies to the eastern Sierras. Adam has a passion for all things natural history and is always looking to get off the beaten path and explore wild places.

Elizabeth Martin

(she/her)

GIS Coordinator

Bio

Born and raised in Kansas, Elizabeth moved out west in 2014. She worked in various land stewardship and restoration roles until heading back to school to earn a graduate certificate in GIS at Portland State University. She joined the Land Trust in 2022 and is excited to use her ecological knowledge and technical skills to support the Land Trust’s mission. In her free time, you will find Elizabeth birding, baking, and spoiling her dog, Henry.

Emily Matson

(she/her)

Natural Area Manager

Bio

Emily has worked for the Land Trust since 2014. Before joining the Land Trust she worked on habitat restoration projects for watershed councils and a local stormwater utility. Her master’s degree research took her to the Ecuadorian Andes, where she studied grassland plants at an elevation of 12,000 feet. When she’s not traveling, Emily enjoys being home in the Northwest and caring for her flock of backyard chickens.

Cindy McCormack

Sandhill Crane Monitoring Scientist

Bio

Since 2021, Cindy has been monitoring bird use of Cranes’ Landing in the Vancouver lowlands to inform stewardship planning and management. Her previous experience includes wildlife and botanical fieldwork, specializing in avian surveys, in the wonderful variety of habitats of the Pacific Northwest. When not immersed in the activity of Sandhill Cranes and their associates, she spends her free time on volunteer activities, hiking, gardening, reading and puzzles. She is always birding!

Keely McIntyre

(she/her)

Grants Manager

Bio

Originally from the green mountains of Vermont, Keely has called the Pacific Northwest home since 1999. She has spent much of her grant writing career as an advocate and fundraiser for the arts, and performed with local dance companies herself for a decade and a half. She is thrilled to join Columbia Land Trust in 2019 and looks forward to using her skills towards the advancement of conservation in the region. When she’s not exploring Portland’s culinary bounty, she enjoys camping, hiking, and kayaking with her family.

Brad Mead

(he/him)

Land Steward

Bio

Brad has been working in natural resources since 2012, primarily doing invasive species control, riparian restoration projects, and botany. Growing up in Southern Oregon, he gained an appreciation for plants and their foundational role in the ecosystem. In his spare time, Brad enjoys playing strategy board games and hunting elusive mariposa lilies.

Marian Ohara

(she/her)

Database Administrator

Bio

Born and raised in Okinawa, Japan, Marian moved around the Northeast, South, and Northwest before settling in the Portland area in 2015. She has worked at non-profit organizations in development since 1994, specializing in Raiser’s Edge database software. Marian spends her free time reading or checking out new places and foods to try with her husband.

Brieanna Pantele

(she/her)

People and Culture Administrator

Bio

Brieanna joined Columbia Land Trust in 2016. Originally from southern California, Brieanna worked in administration for six years and brings her passion for the work to our non-profit. Out of the office, she enjoys exploring her new home and everything the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

Susie Peterson

(she/her)

Backyard Habitat Certification Program Manager

Bio

Susie is passionate about helping community members create vibrant and beautiful spaces in their yards and neighborhoods. Before joining the Land Trust she worked at Friends of Trees helping neighbors at community planting events. Susie loves nearly any outdoor activity, but especially enjoys hiking, camping, birdwatching, and looking for interesting flora and fauna.

Noel Plemmons

(he/him)

Conservation Easement Manager

Bio

Noel began his career with the Land Trust in 2018 as a seasonal stewardship assistant while conducting graduate research in land trust-tribe relations. He found such an affinity for conservation that he spent the following three years stewarding natural areas for Washington DNR. Noel re-joined the Land Trust in 2022 to take on all things conservation easement-related, working with landowners to protect and enhance the precious lands, resources, and habitats under their care. Outside of work Noel is happiest landscaping, gardening, building things, climbing things, and traveling as much as possible.

Jennifer Samwel

(she/her)

Advancement Coordinator

Bio

Jennifer started her career with Columbia Land Trust in 2021 as the Advancement Administrative Assistant and in June 2022 transitioned into her current role as the Advancement Coordinator. She is passionate about nonprofit fundraising and is excited to use her skills in a way that will make a lasting impact on our region. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys trying new recipes, going to spin classes, and picnicking when the weather is nice!

Kat Shepard

(she/her)

East Cascades Oak Partnership Grants and Communications Coordinator

Bio

Hailing from the Willamette Valley, Kat found her footing in communications and conservation while working for nonprofits in Nevada and southern Oregon. Connecting people around the shared goal of protecting wild places is her way of combining her creative passions with an enduring love of nature. Kat joined Columbia Land Trust in 2023 and hit the ground running with the East Cascades Oak Partnership. In her free time, you’ll find her making music and visual art, enjoying whitewater sports, and exploring with her dog, Washburn.

Stacy Simanonok

(she/her)

East Cascades Oak Partnership Technical Coordinator

Bio

Stacy joined the Land Trust in February 2023 as a Technical Coordinator for the East Cascades Oak Partnership. She holds a M.S. in Ecology from Montana State University with a varied background in plant ecology, grazing, invasive species, and pollinators. She is excited to bring her expertise and technical knowledge to the ECOP team. Stacy enjoys hiking, birding, and botanizing wherever she goes!

Susanna Summers

(she/her)

Individual Giving Officer

Bio

Susanna Summers loves connecting great people with great causes to create positive change. An integral part of Columbia Land Trust’s advancement team, she works to build connections between our donors and the land their gifts help conserve and care for. Susanna also enjoys gallivanting in nature—in the city and beyond—with her husband and two young sons.

Pamela Swearingen

(she/her)

Transaction Coordinator

Bio

A second-generation real estate industry professional, Pamela is honored to combine her years of real estate experience with her love for the Pacific Northwest wild spaces. Raised in the dusty dry desert of the SW, she now happily calls the rainy Pacific Northwest her home. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, reading, and listening to vintage vinyl records.

Austin Tomlinson

(he/him)

Coast Region Manager

Bio

Austin was raised on the northern Oregon Coast, where he returned after graduating from Humboldt State University with a degree in soil science. He has worked for various conservation organizations throughout the Northwest, many of which specialized in restoration of riparian, forestry, and wetland habitats as well as agricultural impacts to water quality. Austin enjoys surfing, fishing, and hunting.

Jocelyn Tutak

(she/they)

Conservation Lead

Bio

Jocelyn joined the Land Trust in 2023 and is responsible for its conservation efforts on the lower Columbia. She has worked in conservation GIS in the Pacific Northwest for over 15 years, translating complex data into stories and maps that support ecologically and culturally restorative landscape stewardship. She loves a rainy hike and exploring by bike, book, fork, or foot. She is usually knitting.

Nate Ulrich

(he/him)

Conservation Lead

Bio

Nate manages our land acquisitions east of the Cascades out of the White Salmon office. He has a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Oregon with an emphasis on development of conservation tools that facilitate landowner and community priorities. He mostly gardens.

Ian Winters

(he/him)

Controller

Bio

Born and raised in the woods of New Hampshire, Ian joined the Land Trust in 2019 bringing a passion for world-saving projects. He has managed fiscal & contract operations for various social service non-profits since 2002, most recently in Santa Cruz, CA. In his free time, Ian is a tax accountant, hot springs enthusiast and dance–party DJ.

Jennifer Zarnoch

(she/her)

Valley Region Manager

Bio

Since 2010, Jennifer has managed, monitored, and cared for our lands in our stewardship department, where she applies her keen mind in the management of our land-information systems. Her previous work includes consultant work with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and natural area management with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. She spends her free time marveling at her young son, growing food, and getting outside as much as possible.