Our Staff

Click on a photo below to read our staff's bio.

  • Sophia AepfelbacherMembership Coordinator
    Sophia Aepfelbacher, Membership Coordinator
    Sophia joined Friends in September 2018. As membership coordinator, she is responsible for the development and retention of members, working with individuals and businesses to ensure that the Gorge will be enjoyed by generations to come. Before coming to Friends, Sophia lived in New York City for eight years where she earned a degree in economics from Fordham University and worked for Columbia University School of the Arts. At Columbia, she became fascinated by the many ways in which the stories we tell affect the physical world. Tired of the city life, Sophia moved back to Oregon last summer to be closer to family and nature. As one of the 153 hikers trapped by the Eagle Creek fire in 2017, she has immense respect for Mother Nature and is passionate about educating fellow outdoor enthusiasts on their role in protecting special places like the Gorge. Sophia is excited to put her enthusiasm for the Gorge to good use at Friends.
  • Coila AshHike Program Associate
    Coila Ash, Hike Program Associate
    hikes@gorgefriends.org | 971-634-1265
    Coila Ash joined Friends in Jan. 2020 as a part-time, temporary hike program associate, working with hike leaders and shepherds to organize spring hikes and outdoor programs. Coila is a dedicated Friends supporter and volunteer, helping us out at events and putting in countless hours as a Trailhead Ambassador volunteer the past two years. She was honored at Friends' 2019 Volunteer Appreciation as one of three Volunteers of the Year and has participated on numerous guided hikes and outings over the years. Her professional profile includes expertise in organizational development and alliance building, project and campaign coordination and implementation, community outreach and engagement, and event planning and meeting coordination. For the last nine years she has worked as a  professional organizer and independent contractor and previously worked for four years at ForestEthics (now: Stand.Earth) out of Bellingham, WA, and five years at Creative Commotion: Voices for Social Change out of Santa Fe, NM. A self-proclaimed nature enthusiast, she enjoys living an outdoors, active lifestyle and integrating creative pursuits such as writing and painting.
  • Nathan BakerSenior Staff Attorney
    Nathan Baker, Senior Staff Attorney
    nathan@gorgefriends.org | 971-634-2026
    As Senior Staff Attorney, Nathan is responsible for managing the organization's legal efforts to protect the resources of the Columbia River Gorge. Since Nathan joined Friends in November 2000, Friends has participated in more than one hundred legal cases, losing less than fifteen percent of them. Nathan is licensed to practice law in both Oregon and Washington. He has edited and written for several legal publications on environmental and land use topics. While studying at Lewis & Clark Law School, he served as student body president and worked as a law clerk for the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center (now Earthrise Law Center) and as the Law School's alternative transportation coordinator. 
  • Mika BarrettStewardship Volunteer Coordinator
    Mika Barrett, Stewardship Volunteer Coordinator
    mika@gorgefriends.org | 971-634-0594
    Mika develops and implements Friends' Gorge restoration stewardship program, bringing a passion for connecting people with the natural world and to the Columbia Gorge. Mika views stewardship as an approach to building robust communities and fostering synergy between people and nature. Mika serves as the Education and Outreach Chair for the Columbia Gorge Cooperative Weed Management Area and is pursuing a Master Naturalist through Oregon State University. Before joining Friends, Mika spent several years as a human resources manager and operations lead, where she designed training programs and served as a link between employees and organizational objectives. She also supported a local watershed council in volunteer coordination, outreach, and crew leader training. As a native of the Pacific Northwest, Mika grew up exploring the wonders of the Columbia River Gorge and enjoys rock climbing, mountaineering and backpacking. 
  • Dan BellLand Trust Director
    Dan Bell, Land Trust Director
    Dan eagerly joined Friends in early 2018 as director of the Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trust. In this capacity he oversees the acquisition, management and disposition of lands held by the land trust. Dan’s experience includes more than a decade with the Nature Conservancy in both Oregon and North Carolina, including seven years as the Willamette Basin conservation director. While there, he oversaw complex real estate, habitat restoration and land stewardship programs. He has extensive experience in partnership development, and a deep background with land trusts, serving as executive director of the Sandhills Area Land Trust (Southern Pines, NC) and as a board member with the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts. Dan grew up outside Denver, has an affinity for southern hound dogs, and holds a B.S. in Forest Sciences from Colorado State University and a J.D. from North Carolina Central University.
  • Elizabeth Brooke-WillbanksDevelopment Manager
    Elizabeth Brooke-Willbanks, Development Manager
    With a background in camping, nonprofit management and fundraising, Elizabeth joined Friends in October 2018. As the developement manager she is responsible for supporting, and growing, philanthropic support from individual donors, corporations and foundations.

    Elizabeth started camping at eight years old, and by 15 was leading trainings for adults in camping, outdoor survival and the principals of Leave No Trace. After earning a degree in Recreation Administration she started working for the Girl Scouts, leading camping and outdoor programs in Kentucky, Ohio and Massachusetts. Along the way she began working to support fund raising initiatives and became interested in the psychology of giving.

    In 2013, Elizabeth and her family took a year off and camped their way through Europe for the adventure of their lives. After returning to the U.S. they continued the adventure with a cross-country move to Portland. Upon arriving in Portland, she earned her Certificate of Nonprofit Fundraising through Portland State University and the Willamette Valley Development Officers and began working in health care fundraising which allowed her to learn the intricacies of the nonprofit and fundraising landscape in Oregon and SW Washington.
  • Peter CornelisonField Representative
    Peter Cornelison, Field Representative
    As field representative, Peter is responsible for building support and activism among Gorge residents for protecting the Columbia Gorge. A Friends staff member since 2003, Peter is a Hood River resident who has been active in a number of local conservation causes and organizations. Peter is a former president and a current board member of Thrive Hood River, he helped the Hood River Waterfront Community Park Association create the Hood River Waterfront Park and is a founder of Streets Alive! HR. He served on the Hood River City Council from 2014 - 2018. Prior to moving to Hood River, Peter led a family-owned manufacturing business.
  • Pam DaveeDirector of Philanthropy
    Pam Davee, Director of Philanthropy
    pam@gorgefriends.org | 971-634-2036
    Since 2014, Pam has worked with Friends’ staff and board to more effectively engage major donors and successfully complete Friends' Preserve the Wonder capital campaign—a $5.6 million effort to permanently protect 470 acres of land on the Washington side of the Gorge. In September 2018, Pam became Friends' director of philanthropy, where she leads efforts to work with donors on their current and future philanthropic goals.

    Pam came to Friends from a development, marketing and finance background spanning over three decades of experience in both the private and nonprofit sectors. She previously served as development director for two river-protection organizations in the southeastern U.S., Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and the Harpeth River Conservancy.

    After relocating to the Pacific Northwest in 2009, Pam joined the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and most recently served as development director for Portland's DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital. She holds an MS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech and in her spare time is an enthusiastic hiker, biker and gardener.
  • Burt EdwardsCommunications Director
    Burt Edwards, Communications Director
    burt@gorgefriends.org | 971-634-0595
    A native of the Pacific Northwest, Burt joined Friends in May 2017 as its inaugural communications director and leads its public engagement team. Before joining Friends, Burt worked for over 20 years in Washington, D.C. where he last served as communications director for InterAction—the largest alliance of international NGOs and partners in the United States. He previously worked for nine years at The Pew Charitable Trusts/National Environmental Trust—developing and managing communications projects to help shape public opinion on pressing policy challenges from climate change to ocean conservation. This built on previous experience at the U.S. Institute of Peace and a stint in the private sector as a legislative associate with Stateside Associates, Inc. Burt holds masters of public affairs from the University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs and a bachelor's degree from the University of Washington in Seattle.
  • Frances FischerLand Trust Associate
    Frances Fischer, Land Trust Associate
    Frances joined Friends in June 2018. As land trust associate, Frances assists in the record keeping, stewardship, and restoration of Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trust properties. Her favorite thing about her job is that through leading stewardship events, she is able to connect with volunteers that share her passion for the natural world. As a pollinator fanatic, Frances also serves as the organizer for the Gorge chapter of the Oregon Bee Atlas, a project of Oregon State University. Frances moved to the Gorge with her Hood River-local husband from Bozeman, MT where she worked in community outreach for the Montana Wilderness Association. Frances holds a B.S. in Conservation Biology and Ecology with a minor in Entomology from Montana State University where she worked in several ecology labs studying pollinators and climate change. In her free time, Frances enjoys gardening, backpacking, and attempting to identify every native plant in the Columbia Gorge.
  • Kevin GormanExecutive Director
    Kevin Gorman, Executive Director
    kevin@gorgefriends.org | 971-634-2029
    As executive director, Kevin oversees all the activities of Friends of the Columbia Gorge, as well as its land trust, which currently owns 1,500 acres of land. Kevin joined the organization in 1998 and during his tenure Friends has grown from eight staff and one office to 22 staff and three offices; net assets have grown from $750,000 to $22 million. Kevin helped lead the $4.5 million Cape Horn and $5.5 million Preserve the Wonder land acquisition campaigns and assisted in creating two nonprofits in the Gorge: the Klickitat Trail Conservancy and the Cape Horn Conservancy. Kevin was previously the associate director of Oregon Natural Resources Council (now Oregon Wild) and has served as board president for the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts and EarthShare Oregon, a workplace giving organization. Prior to his non-profit adventures, Kevin was the creative director of an advertising agency in Detroit, MI.
  • Stan HallDigital Content Specialist
    Stan Hall, Digital Content Specialist
    stan@gorgefriends.org | 971-634-2035
    Stan is one of Friends' voices, writing for and managing our website and social media channels, in addition to assisting with media outreach and overseeing our annual photo contest. An Atlanta native and a graduate (political science) from the University of Georgia, he moved to Oregon in 1997 and is a former arts writer for The Oregonian. Stan joined Friends in 2012 and has a particular interest in Friends' legal and advocacy work. In his occasional free time, he sings, plays bass guitar and writes songs for a Portland indie-rock band called the Zags
  • Kate HarbourLand Use Planning Clerk
    Kate Harbour, Land Use Planning Clerk
    kateh@gorgefriends.org | 971-634-0557
    Kate joined Friends in October 2012. Originally from Whidbey Island, WA, she moved to Portland in 2006 to attend Lewis and Clark College and received a B.A. in English. An avid hiker and traveler, Kate is inspired by the role that outdoor recreation and land conservation have in different communities. To this end, Kate is currently pursuing her Master of Urban and Regional Planning at Portland State University and supporting other regional and international trail projects through her volunteer work with the Salmonberry Trail and the World Trails Network.
  • Michael LangConservation Director
    Michael Lang, Conservation Director
    Michael is Friends of the Columbia Gorge's longest-tenured staff member, having joined in 1993 as forest and land use coordinator; he has served as the conservation director since 1995. Michael oversees all aspects of our monitoring and litigation program, as well as working with allies and the media to promote Friends' priorities and playing a key role in our lobbying efforts. Michael has intimate knowledge of the Management Plan that governs the Gorge, having reviewed development proposals and worked with county planners and Columbia River Gorge Commission staff throughout his tenure here. Prior to joining Friends, Michael directed campaigns for several electoral candidates and voter initiatives.
  • Libby MartinDevelopment & Database Coordinator
    Libby Martin, Development & Database Coordinator
    libby@gorgefriends.org | 971-634-2025
    As Development and Database Coordinator, Libby helps manage the day to day activities to keep Friends’ fundraising work run smoothly. Prior to Friends, she worked with a variety of nonprofit organizations as a development consultant. Born and raised in Oregon, Libby attended the University of Rochester, studying anthropology and public health, as well as international health and development at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, before returning home. 
  • Steve McCoyStaff Attorney
    Steve McCoy, Staff Attorney
    steve@gorgefriends.org | 971-634-2032
    As staff attorney, Steve works to protect the scenic, recreational, cultural, and natural resources of the Columbia River Gorge by ensuring that decisions made by federal, state, and local permitting agencies follow applicable laws. Before joining Friends in 2016, Steve spent seven years as a staff attorney with 1000 Friends of Oregon, protecting Oregon’s farms and forestlands from development. When he is not helping to protect special places, he likes to hike, backpack, run, cook, and spend time with his family. 
  • Ryan RittenhouseConservation Organizer
    Ryan Rittenhouse, Conservation Organizer
    ryan@gorgefriends.org | 971-634-2034
    Ryan joined Friends in June 2013. For six years prior to moving to Oregon, Ryan lived in Austin, TX where he worked as an environmental organizer and activist with Public Citizen and Greenpeace. His work there included actions against proposed and existing coal plants, the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and a nuclear plant expansion. A native of Cleveland, OH, Ryan has also worked for Ohio Citizen Action and has spent months at sea volunteering for oceanic wildlife protection and conservation. He has a degree in Communications from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania and has worked as an independent film maker as well as in the theater business at The Cleveland Playhouse and other venues. 
  • Natasha StoneCommunity Engagement Specialist
    Natasha Stone, Community Engagement Specialist
    As Friends' community engagement specialist, Natasha manages Friends’ outdoor youth education efforts and works to build a diverse and inclusive network of community partners to help protect, preserve, and steward the Columbia Gorge. Before joining Friends in Nov. 2019, Natasha worked at Oregon Public Broadcasting as a production assistant for the Think Out Loud program. A graduate of Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science in Ethnic Studies, Natasha is passionate about working with underrepresented communities and has seen firsthand how outdoor recreation and education can be empowering tools for communities to strengthen and connect while working as an assistant teacher and mentor for Portland’s Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization. She is currently completing her Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management online through the University of Denver and is a certified first aid instructor. An Oregon native, Natasha enjoys playing disc golf year around and sharing stories with people around a campfire.
  • Renee TkachGorge Towns to Trails Project Manager
    Renee Tkach, Gorge Towns to Trails Project Manager
    renee@gorgefriends.org | 971-634-2039
    Renee returned to Friends of the Columbia Gorge in 2011 as the project manager for Gorge Towns to Trails, a project that supports land protection, recreation enhancements and economic development. Renee originally was the organization's outdoor program coordinator, but left in 2010 to serve as development outreach director for Hells Canyon Preservation Council. Renee is also a founding member of Cape Horn Conservancy and serves on the board of Trailkeepers of Oregon. Her enthusiasm for the Gorge and the people who enjoy it is contagious. Renee is eager to share with the public the ways Friends is working to promote more hiking opportunities in the Gorge. 
  • Paige UnangstFinance Director
    Paige Unangst, Finance Director
    paige@gorgefriends.org | 971-634-2031
    Paige is responsible for financial management, human resources, and office operations, providing administrative, project management and process support to the organization. A Linfield College graduate, Paige joined Friends in August 2013 and has degrees in business administration and religious studies. She is delighted to have returned to the majestic Northwest, after living in Pennsylvania and Illinois, and making her volunteer passions and interests into a career. She is excited to collaborate with Friends staff joining in the efforts to protect the beauty and splendor of the Gorge for generations to come. Prior to entering the non-profit world Paige worked as a buyer, inventory manager, and outside sales representative in the uniform/footwear industry.
  • Sara WoodsLand Trust Stewardship Coordinator
    Sara Woods, Land Trust Stewardship Coordinator
    sara@gorgefriends.org | 971-634-2038
    Sara joined Friends of the Columbia Gorge in 2015. As stewardship coordinator, Sara takes a lead role on stewardship and restoration of Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trust properties. Sara has been working in the natural resource field for over a decade and has a diverse background in researching birds, fish, butterflies, plants, and forest carnivores, butterflies. Sara studied at Paul Smith's College and Plattsburgh State University (New York State), respectively completing an A.S. in Ecology and a B.S. in Environmental Science. After settling in the Gorge in 2003, she completed a Master’s degree in Environmental Management at Portland State University. Sara strongly believes in volunteering and continues to do so via the Oregon State University Master Gardeners program, Hawk Watch International, and Cascadia Wild.