I have experience working for members of both political parties, extensive leadership experience working in collaborative nonpartisan groups focused on land management issues, and have managed budgets for large nonprofit organizations.
My political experience started in Washington D.C., a place where things used to function and people could get work done. I was the senior advisor to U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York until he retired in 2001. I advised Senator Moynihan on agricultural and land use issues, and represented him on the Environment and Public Works Committee, on which he was the most senior member. I also helped Moynihan manage budgetary decisions in the millions of dollars regarding authorizing legislation and appropriations for various projects across the country.
Senator Moynihan was, above all else, a statesman. He believed that good public policy, not politics, should lead decision-making. Above his desk he framed two national magazine covers – one that proclaimed him to be a neo-conservative; the other a neo-liberal. Moynihan loved being apolitical, fighting for the best policy for the greatest good, and yet he still won all his elections with huge margins. He made us staff members read the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post every morning and quizzed us on the best solutions to the hardest public policy dilemmas of the day. He is my role model as an elected official.
After Senator Moynihan, I worked for the only bipartisan regional coalition in the country. It is called the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition and it still exists! This is a large working coalition of Republican, Democratic, and Independent members in the Senate and House who work side-by-side to get things done. They focus on “rust belt” economic issues like jobs and brownfields development, and on conservation issues important to the Great Lakes and Northeast, like water quality and wildlife habitat. I was an advisor to the Coalition and enjoyed every minute of it, helping members of three political parties get along and make good things happen. It is another model for my leadership.
I was also the first U.S. government representative to work on an international treaty focused on wetlands. In 1998, the U.S. State Department sent me to Switzerland to work at the headquarters of the Ramsar International Convention on Wetlands. There, I was able to provide U.S. leadership and support to over 100 countries (now 170) that signed the treaty to promote wetlands of international significance. I attended the international Conference of Parties, where I saw nations that otherwise fought each other come together to conserve valuable habitat and ecosystem services. Again, a role model for me to follow.
Early on, I was recognized as being able to bridge divides and connect with people from a wide variety of beliefs and perspectives. This has led me to serve on many nonpartisan international, regional, and local collaborative groups. I have served on the United Nations Global Mercury Assessment Working Group, focused on finding economically-viable solutions to reducing mercury emissions world-wide. After being a Park Ranger at Crater Lake National Park and working for a desert group in Oregon, I was appointed by the Secretary of Interior to serve on the Southeast Oregon Resource Advisory Council. This group of ranchers, County Commissioners, and local land use representatives met regularly to advise federal land managers on how to move forward on complex land management issues. I also served on Governor Kitzhaber’s Working Group on Sage Grouse and on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge’s Comprehensive Planning Group, which successfully worked with ranchers, politicians, and local citizens to find solutions on natural resource issues. The Malheur Refuge effort was so successful that it created a strong sense of community and unity among uncommon allies when outside forces came in and took over the refuge in 2016.
For seven years I lived in Seattle working with sportsmen and conservation groups in five states (Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, and California) to restore wildlife and habitat with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). At NWF, I traveled the Pacific Region and had the opportunity to work directly with the leaders of nonprofit businesses and help them grow their organizations and become more effective. This led to our coalition having significant influence on the priorities of both Republican and Democratic members of Congress.
For the past five years, I have worked in Vancouver and Portland as the Executive Director of the local nonprofit Cascade Forest Conservancy, which is focused on sustainable timber harvests and healthy communities and wildlife populations. During my time, I doubled the size of the organization and efficiently managed the income and expenses for our $600,000 annual budget.
I also served in leadership positions on two effective collaborative groups in Southwest Washington: Pinchot Partners and the South Gifford Pinchot Collaborative (SGPC). Both groups are focused on land use management issues in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, which is adjacent to Clark County (some parcels are in Clark County). Voting members of the collaboratives include the logging industry, County Commissioners, local businesses, habitat and fisheries managers, the Tribes, and local citizens who use and recreate in the forest. I remain on the SGPC today and when I attend those meetings, I now represent hunters and anglers.
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) is my favorite nonprofit, where I am a triple life member and represent Southwest Washington on its Board of Directors. This group defends public lands, hunting and fishing access, and promotes healthy fish and game populations. I am also a gun owner and a proud member and supporter of many hunting and fishing groups, including Ducks Unlimited, the Clark-Skamania Flyfishers, and the Association of Northwest Steelheaders.