Two months ago I assumed the role of Executive Director at Umpqua Watersheds and am proud to work alongside Alan Bunce and the UW Board of Directors to help respond to the threats to our natural environment because of our current political reality. I am very grateful to be part of Umpqua Watersheds and humbled to be associated with so many intelligent, committed and generous people.
When I moved to Roseburg over six years I got involved with Umpqua Watersheds after I attended one of the hikes sponsored by UW. I was immediately captured by the passion and appreciation people had for the beauty around them and their determination to protect it. I volunteered at my first Brew Fest that year and attended my first banquet the following spring. In the summer of 2012 I was invited to become a member of the board of directors of Umpqua Watersheds and took the position of Director of Operations that fall after UW lost its Executive Director, Office Manager and our AmeriCorps in the same month. It was a dark time for UW. Some people suggested that we might have to close our doors because of lack of funding. Fortunately the rumor of our demise was greatly exaggerated, but not by much!
Over the next 1 ½ years I worked as Director of Operations and as a board member. I chose the title because I felt I didn’t have the environmental credentials to be an executive director but hoped to provide some stability with my background in business and nonprofit management. I would go to board, committee meetings and public events and feel as if I was in the land of the giants because of profound depth of environmental and community knowledge possessed by Ken Carloni, Paddy Quinn, Stan Petrowski, Bob Allen, Bob Hoehne, Anne Dorsey, M.A. Hansen, Francis Eatherington, Alan Bunce, Susan Applegate many more! I decided I wanted to know more, to somehow contribute so I decided to pursue an online master of environmental law and policy degree from the Vermont Law School. I also started a full time position at Umpqua Community College and continued to serve on the board of directors while juggling work and school. Last August I finished my program and am eager to do what I can to make a difference with my education and experience.
It has been a wild ride for me personally and especially for Umpqua Watersheds. After those dark days in the summer of 2012 UW has flourished thanks to the incredible work of our board of directors and three fantastic young people through the VISTA and AmeriCorps programs. Over the past five years, Roland Wang, Katrina Keleher and Baily Stein have invested thousands of hours into our community by teaching environmental education in local schools and immersing themselves in Umpqua Watersheds activities while becoming part of our UW family. After I stepped down as director of operations to focus on school, Alan Bunce became our office manager and outreach coordinator and along with our AmeriCorps heroes, provided the energy UW needed to rise from the ashes.
On Saturday, July 1st from 4-7pm we will celebrate the greatest donation Umpqua Watersheds has ever received, our building at 539 S.E. Main Street! We have been extremely fortunate to have a great landlord the last several years. The building had been on the market for many months and several interested buyers came through. A few UW members were working on a plan to buy the building but in January the owner mentioned to Alan that it might make more sense to donate it to Umpqua Watersheds. We made sure that it continued to make sense for him and worked closely to make the donation a reality. On Friday, June 16th we filed the deed and the courthouse and officially assumed ownership. Please join us to celebrate on Saturday, July 1 from 4-7pm. Our neighbors at Old Soul Pizza will be opening for us and we will be broadcasting great music from our new radio station, KQUA 96.5. While we have a lot of work to do because of the many challenges in
front of us it is important to stop a moment, celebrate our victories and our friendships and talk about how we are going to face those challenges together as a team.