By Kevin Gorman, executive director, and Paige Unangst, finance director
Peter Cornelison, Friends’ long-time conservation organizer and a leading voice for Gorge protection for nearly 20 years, has retired effective June 1, 2022. During his time at Friends, Peter, a resident of Hood River, was the face of the organization at countless meetings and rallies.
Peter was instrumental in educating Gorge communities about the threats of new development, such as fossil fuel terminals on the Columbia River, polluting power plants, and coal and oil trains through the Gorge. He helped mobilize Gorge residents to attend hearings and travel to Salem and Olympia to meet with legislators. He helped educate high school students about climate change and steps they could take to build climate resilience in their communities.
In all these efforts, Peter’s passion for Gorge protection, his sense of place, and his compassion for others was an example for all of us.
Friends wishes to express a deep sense of gratitude to Peter for everything that he has contributed. Peter, your legacy will carry on and your accomplishments will not be forgotten. Thank you!
Meet Friends' next generation of conservation organizers
Sofia Urrutia-Lopez: Stepping into Peter's role as our Gorge-based conservation organizer, Sofia is an ardent supporter of everything local. She’s spent the past 10 years living, working, and recreating in the Gorge, where she previously worked with the Cascade Locks Tourism Committee and with Play Frontier, an equitable play and nature school. Sofia has served on the board of Breweries of the Gorge and is the founder of Let’s Take Action Skamania County, an initiative to recruit and build a network of activists to champion local causes in the county. She brings her love of the Gorge and her strong relationships in multiple Gorge communities to her organizing work with Friends.
Denise López: Our Portland-based conservation organizer, who joined Friends in mid-2021, is an environmental and social justice advocate, passionate about serving and motivating communities to protect their local environments. A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in environmental sociology and a minor in environmental policy and culture, Denise brings strong experience from her work in the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago, and The Nature Conservancy in Markham, Illinois. In 2019, Denise spoke at the New Horizons in Conservation Conference for students and professionals from backgrounds that are underrepresented in the conservation field and/or those who are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field.