Friends of the Columbia Gorge Board of Directors and Land TrusteesFriends’ Board of Directors includes a diversity of interests and skill sets that intersect the mission, vision, and values of the organization.
*Gorge area resident
Friends of the Columbia Gorge Board of Directors
Eric Lichtenthaler, Chair*
Eric grew up in the Willamette Valley outside Newberg, OR. A fifth-generation Oregonian, Eric’s parents were active in local land-use issues protecting Yamhill County farmland, efforts that later led to Oregon’s statewide land-use planning system. Eric and his wife moved to Corbett in 2000 and learned firsthand about the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area rules as they worked to remodel their century-old home. It was during that time that Eric connected with Friends of the Columbia Gorge and became involved in Gorge preservation.
Eric ran his own construction business for 28 years and is currently a project manager for Olsen and Jones, a construction/remodeling company in Portland. He joined the Board of Directors in 2010 and has served as chair since 2013. With a bachelor's degree in theology and a master's degree in child psychology, Eric is especially adept at running board meetings with passionate, strong-willed people.
Vince Ready, Vice Chair*
Vince first discovered the Gorge as a windsurfer in the early 1990s and moved to Hood River in 2009 for the community, quality of life and abundant recreational opportunities. He spends most weekends outdoors with his family backpacking, mountain biking, snowboarding, windsurfing, and photographing the Gorge's incredible scenic beauty. He is passionate about protecting the Gorge from threats such as coal and oil, and is grateful for the vision and tireless efforts of all who came before him.
Vince brings a wealth of marketing and brand development experience to Friends’ board as he advises the organization on marketing, social media strategies and technology. Vince graduated with a bachelor of arts from Whitman College and has served on the board since 2013.
Kari Skedsvold, Secretary/Treasurer
Kari grew up in Montana and spent most of her young life outdoors. As she considered moving to Portland, it was the drive through the Columbia Gorge that helped “seal the deal” for her as the Gorge provided the much needed "air to breathe" if she was to be a city dweller. Today, Kari and her husband Bob and their two daughters spend as much time as allows in the Gorge and surrounding areas.
Fascinated by the Missoula Floods and excited about Friends' Gorge Towns to Trails project, Kari joined Friends’ finance committee in 2011 and the board in 2013. As a certified public accountant and financial advisor, Kari has helped build our finance committee to deal with the ever-growing complexities of the organization. Kari holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Montana State University.
Debbie lives her passion for the Columbia Gorge like few others. She spends more than 50 days a year hiking old, familiar trails and exploring new trails, and enjoys connecting people to Gorge landscapes and communities. She created Trailmix, a women's outdoor activity group, and has led hundreds of people on day hikes and multi-day trips. She lives out the philosophy of Friends’ founder, the late Nancy Russell, that the best way to build support for Gorge protection is by taking people out on the land.
Debbie holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics and a master of business administration degree. She works as a technical editor and joined the board in 2013. In addition to her board duties, she serves as a hike leader and participates in stewardship events. She lives in Portland with her husband, Steve.
Keith Brown, Ph.D.*
Keith connected with Friends of the Columbia Gorge as a result of both threats and opportunities near his log home along the Washougal River. The threat was a massive commercial development proposal on the boundary of the National Scenic Area and the opportunity was Friends’ vision for a Cape Horn trail. As result of Keith and his wife Teresa’s engagement and activism, the threat was stopped and the vision achieved. Today his wife serves as the founding president of the Cape Horn Conservancy.
After retiring from a successful career as a university professor and working 18 years as a catalyst for change within the banking industry, Keith retired to the west end of the Columbia Gorge. Believing that people working together can make the communities better places to live, Keith volunteered as a firefighter, fire commissioner and emergency medical services director. Keith joined our board in 2010 and served as chair from 2012-2014.
Pat grew up in the Hood River Valley in Parkdale at the base of Mt. Hood. Her parents were orchardists and her mother was a botanist whose life’s work was photographing the flowers of the Columbia Gorge. Pat spent many enjoyable hours discovering the botanic wonders of Catherine Creek and the Rowena loops when the lands were still privately owned.
Pat’s love of the outdoors and agriculture led her and her husband Joe to join a handful of Willamette Valley wine pioneers in the early 1970s. Pat and Joe created Elk Cove Vineyard in 1974 and they have since entered wine lore for their outstanding contribution to the Oregon wine industry. As Pat and Joe handed some of their Elk Cove responsibilities on to their son, they lived briefly near Lyle, WA and Pat saw firsthand the amazing work Friends was doing to protect and enhance the Columbia Gorge. Eager to join that effort, Pat became a board member in 2013.
Geoff moved to Portland from Washington, DC in 1981 seeking a richer quality of life and access to the great outdoors. He has been hiking in the Columbia Gorge since he arrived and as a recent retiree, his hiking days have grown exponentially.
Geoff recently retired from a career of serving consumer-owned utilities throughout the Pacific Northwest. Geoff’s understanding of the energy market and the role energy development play in the Columbia Gorge is one of the reasons he was asked to join the board. Geoff came on in 2014 and also serves on the board's finance committee.
Jim grew up in Missouri and started hiking, camping and canoeing at a young age. After spending most of his working life in the Midwest, Jim and his wife Mary retired and moved to Portland in 2007. Jim joined Friends of the Columbia Gorge immediately, and immersed himself in the geology and history of the Gorge and the Pacific Northwest.
Today, Jim gives talks about the Ice Age Floods, as well as leads hikes and participates in stewardship and advocacy work. Jim is especially excited about Gorge Towns to Trails and the potential for a loop of trails encircling the Gorge. Jim joined the board in 2015 to help make these dreams come true and to fight the effort to increase coal and oil transport through the Gorge.
Gwen is a third-generation Oregonian who has married her passion for the Columbia Gorge with her business experience and interest in community service. She is happiest when she is outdoors and is grateful for the opportunity to be on the board of an organization focused on ensuring that the Gorge remains an unspoiled treasure for generations to come.
Gwen had a long career with Levi-Strauss & Co. as a national sales manager and has over 20 years of experience in the non-profit world where she has served on numerous committees and boards, including the Library Foundation Board, the Library Advisory Board, the Multnomah Athletic Club Board and the Fruit & Flower Daycare Board. Gwen lives in Portland and joined the board in 2014.
John has been hiking, dining, and working in the Columbia Gorge since 1980. As a reporter for the Columbian newspaper in the early 1980s, John covered the creation of the National Scenic Area and met Friends’ Founder Nancy Russell and others affiliated with the organization. In 1990, John became the information officer at Northwest Power and Conservation Council where he works in the policy arena of energy, fish and wildlife in the Columbia River Basin. He is the author of an almanac-style history of the Columbia River, and A Woman Alone, a book about Mona Bell, a mistress of Sam Hill, the visionary behind the Historic Columbia River Highway and co-founder of Maryhill Museum.
John joined the board in 2015 and lives with his wife Dawn in Vancouver, WA. They are the parents of two grown sons.
Originally from the Midwest, Temple came to the Pacific Northwest in 2002 and has been committed to protecting and preserving the area’s amazing natural resources ever since. Temple is the executive director of the Parks Foundation of Clark County and a founding partner with High Five Media, a marketing and political campaign consulting firm based in Vancouver, WA. She was a founding board member of the nonprofit Arts of Clark County, and was one of 15 Clark County citizens who were elected in 2014 to write a new governing charter for Clark County.
In what passes for free time, she is also the host and producer of “Hello Vancouver,” a live talk and variety show about the Vancouver area. Temple joined the board in 2015 and lives in Vancouver.
John was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA and moved to Oregon in 1969. He bought a farm near Eugene where he and his wife raised their family and practiced organic gardening. He spent most of his career as an educator, including 21 years as an elementary school teacher on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.
John now resides in The Dalles and is active in the civic affairs of that area. He is a board member on The Dalles Watershed Council, a volunteer water-quality monitor for Columbia Riverkeeper, an elected school board director for the North Wasco County School District D-21, and is an appointed planning commissioner for the city of The Dalles. When he is not busy with those affairs, you will ﬁnd him hiking the trails of the Gorge, taking photographs, and riding his bike along the Riverfront Trail in The Dalles. You may also ﬁnd him pulling up invasive plants in numerous watersheds on the east end of the Gorge and joining clean-up crews in the various regional parks.
John has been an active member of Friends of the Columbia Gorge since shortly after his retirement in 2008 and joined the board in 2014.
Carrie grew up in an American mining camp on the eastern slope of the Peruvian Andes, which instilled in her a lifelong devotion to wilderness, environmental issues and historical preservation. Carrie and her late husband Buddy have been Friends members for many years, active in stewardship and advocacy. Carrie enjoys delving into the history of the Northwest and the Gorge and the geological history that shaped this land and can often be found snowshoeing and hiking in the Gorge with her Bernese Mountain Dog Sammy.
Carrie’s career has been spent in the financial services sector, and for 25 years she has served as a professional trust officer. Carrie joined the board in 2015, lives in Portland and has two daughters and 10 grandchildren.
Meredith and her husband Bill have spent many, many hours in the Gorge hiking, bird watching, wildflower stalking, and simply enjoying the open space and natural beauty. She sees the accessibility of this national treasure as both an opportunity and a threat.
Meredith moved to Portland from Philadelphia in 1981. Prior to her 2001 retirement, her 30-year professional career was devoted entirely to non-profits, first as an employee working in administration and fundraising, later as a consultant specializing in strategic planning and board development. Friends of the Columbia Gorge was one of her clients in the late 1990s. Meredith joined the board in 2013 and lives in Portland.
Charlie grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and developed a love of the outdoors through hiking and camping in the Sierras. He discovered the Gorge as a windsurfer and was awestruck at the region’s unique combination of natural beauty and easy accessibility. Charlie met Friends staff and was deeply impressed, and joined the board in 2008 to contribute to the cause of preservation.
Charlie lives in Silicon Valley where he advises and leads technology businesses throughout the world. He and his family visit often, and love to stay in Hood River.
Polly grew up in Portland and at an early age developed an interest in gardening and wildflowers, constantly walking Forest Park's 22 miles of trails. Polly's wildflower fixation blossomed when her mother, Dottie, took her hiking with longtime friend Nancy Russell. They went everywhere, from Saddle Mountain in the coastal range to Dog Mountain in the Columbia Gorge.
In 2002, Polly was happily exported to Hood River to marry her now-husband John. She continued her successful cake designing business, Polly’s Cakes, until 2008. Inspired by Friends' conservation work, Polly joined the board in 2009 to help carry this important legacy into the future.
Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trustees
The land trust is defined by the IRS as a 509(a)(3) support organization designed to support the mission of Friends of the Columbia Gorge. As a support organization, a majority of the trustees also serve as board of directors of Friends of the Columbia Gorge.
John Nelson, President*See John’s Board Member biography above.
Jim Chase, Secretary/TreasurerSee Jim’s Board Member biography above.
Keith Brown*See Keith’s Board Member biography above.
Pat CampbellSee Pat’s Board Member biography above.
Dustin grew up in the Gorge, graduated from Stevenson High School, and still tends his great-grandfather’s family property in Skamania County. He is an original trustee of the Land Trust since its formation in 2005. Dustin is a real estate, farmer cooperative, and family business transaction attorney active in Oregon and Washington. He and his wife Mary and three children enjoy hiking and visiting family in the Gorge, as well as battling the scotch broom and Himalayan blackberries on their property. Dustin is a graduate of University of Notre Dame (including a year at Sophia University in Tokyo) and University of Washington School of Law.
Barbara joined the land trust as a trustee in 2013. With a professional background in commercial real estate working on projects in Oregon, California, Nevada and Utah, Barbara wanted to use her transaction knowledge to contribute to something more meaningful and long term. With her interest in land conservation and a passion for outdoor adventure in the Gorge, it was a natural fit to join the land trust. Barbara splits her time between northwest Portland and Hood River and spends as much time as possible enjoying all the Gorge has to offer. Her interests include trail running, cycling, kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking, skiing and spending time with her family - husband Chris and their two teenagers Nikki and Conner and their dog Sherman.
Since 1987, Rick has lived in the Scenic Area on a small farm near Corbett, OR. He and his wife Anne can often be found exploring the Gorge and introducing friends to very special places there. He was fortunate to grow up with 500 head of cattle on a large farm which is now publicly-owned open space. Rick spent his career at the junction of technology and storytelling, working in local television, software, website design, and marketing. A Friends member since 1982, he served on the Friends' board from 1993-2016, and became a land trustee in 2010. For Rick, the biggest challenge we face in the Gorge is conserving and enhancing a magnificent landscape that sits so close to a growing metropolitan area.