The Washington State Conservation Commission is supported by an exceptional team of dedicated professionals. Read more about our staff and find their contact information below.
James, a native of Castle Rock, grew up working in his family’s local newspaper business. Through college he spent several seasons as a contract logger, which led him to appreciate the importance of natural resource conservation. He studied history and political science at Whitman College and has worked in personnel management and leadership roles at state government agencies. Previously he worked as Director of International Trade and Logistics for the Terex Corporation, North American Transportation Manager for Starbucks, and Operations Manager for International Paper. James comes to SCC from the Washington Public Ports Association, where he spent nearly ten years — three as executive director. James is an avid sea kayaker, an active member of the Mountaineers, and lives with his family in Olympia.
Mike Baden started as the North Central and Northeast Regional Manager in January 2015. Prior to joining the Commission Mike spent almost 18years working at Conservation Districts – most of that time with the Pierce Conservation District. During his time with districts he worked in several areas including conservation planning, project management, grant administration, contracting, invasive weed control, and property management. Mike grew up on a dryland wheat and legume farm in south Spokane County and attended Washington State University graduating with a degree in Crop Science. When not at work Mike enjoys spending time with his wife and two children.
Mike serves the following conservation districts: Cascadia, Ferry, Foster Creek, Grant County, Lincoln County, Okanogan, South Douglas, Pend Oreille, Stevens County, and Spokane.
Nicole joined the Conservation Commission team in November 2022. Prior to joining the Commission, Nicole worked for Thurston County’s Office of Housing and Homeless Prevention, where she worked with Federal and State funded grants and contracts. Nicole has also worked with government contracts for the City of Arcata, CA, and has worked with tribes in California and Washington. Nicole earned a M.S. in Wildlife Biology from Humboldt State University, where she studied Roosevelt Elk on the Makah Reservation and surrounding managed timberlands of the Olympic Peninsula. In her free time, Nicole enjoys hiking and camping with her family.
We welcomed Allisa to our team in September 2019. Allisa came to us from the Okanogan Conservation District where she served for four years as a wildlife conservation planner focusing on rangeland management and collaborative resource planning. Allisa grew up on a small sheep farm in Plains, Montana and served in the U.S. Coast Guard for four years as a Marine Science Technician. She holds a B.L.A. in Landscape Architecture and has worked as a private consultant on ecological restoration and visual resource management projects throughout the west. Allisa enjoys hiking, photography, and baking with fresh Washington fruit in her spare time.
Allisa serves the following conservation districts: Benton, Central Klickitat, Eastern Klickitat, Franklin, Kittitas, North Yakima, South Yakima, Walla Walla.
Brian Cochrane is the Habitat and Monitoring Coordinator for the Commission. He graduated from UC Davis with a Wildlife and Fisheries bachelor’s degree and has since worked in the natural resources field for Idaho Fish and Game, private consultants in California, Idaho DEQ, US Army Yakima Training Center, and Yakima County’s Flood Control and Stormwater programs. Brian brings his habitat monitoring and restoration experience to the CREP program, coordinates salmon restoration efforts, database management, GIS, and stormwater activities and is the VSP Technical Panel representative for the Commission. In addition to homesteading and tinkering with race car projects, Brian enjoys playing music, snowshoeing, and kayaking.
Jon Culp joined the Commission in 2001 and serves as the Water Resource Programs Manager. Previously, Jon worked for the Okanogan Conservation District where he was a Natural Resource Planner, and he spent four years in the US Army as a High Frequency Radio Direction Finder. He has a B.A. from Central Washington University. Jon has been a council member for the City of Okanogan from 1999 through 2013 and Mayor since January of 2014. He is a life member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and enjoys the outdoors through camping, hiking, hunting, and raising organic chicken, eggs, and vegetables.
Paul grew up in Minnesota and moved west in 2008 to work for the National Park Service at multiple parks in the Sierra Nevada range. After finding his way to Washington Paul led a multinational conservation corps crew before diving into agriculture. After spending several seasons working on and managing farms, he started his own farm in 2015. Paul holds a BS in Accounting from Western Governors University and comes to us from Whatcom County Parks and Recreation. In his spare time, Paul keeps a big garden, hikes with his family, and spends time at the beach.
Paige joined SCC in January of 2022. Paige holds a Master’s degree in public administration from Seattle University and a BA in political science from Western Washington University. Paige has worked at nonprofits, private business, and local and state governments. She came to the Washington State Conservation Commission (SCC) via the Department of Natural Resources, where she crafted recreation communications. As the Outreach and Engagement Manager, she works with various SCC programs and their communication needs. Paige enjoys painting, gardening, and exploring Washington’s stunning scenery.
Kate joined the Washington State Conservation Commission in June 2020. She brings a broad understanding of food systems to her work, with experience in farmland conservation transactions and policy, land-use planning, farmers markets, food assistance programs, and the grocery industry. Kate holds a B.S. in Global Business from the University of Redlands and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Washington. She enjoys gardening, cooking, and exploring Washington’s scenic and wild places.
Bill Eller joined the State Conservation Commission in 2007. He became the Voluntary Stewardship Program coordinator in 2015 after previously serving as Technical Coordinator of the Columbia River Basin Water Management Program and Central Washington Regional Manager. Bill is also the Commission Elections Officer. Bill was born in North Dakota, but grew up in Alaska. He attended the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, where he graduated with a B.A. in Political Science in 1990. In 1997, he graduated from the Gonzaga University School of Law with a Juris Doctorate degree and practiced both criminal and civil law while at the Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for nine years. In 2010, he graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security with a M.A. in Security Studies.
Jean joined the Conservation Commission in 2019. Prior to joining the Commission, Jean served for five years as the Northwest Region Manager for the Washington Department of Natural Resources overseeing land management, forest practices, and wildfire for five counties. Before that, Jean served for nine years as Executive Director of the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District in Oregon where she converted a funeral home to a demonstration headquarters and started a farm business incubator. Prior experience includes coordinating the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and serving as Chief of Ecological Services for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources. She holds masters degrees in Botany and Public Administration.
Toyo holds a BA in Marketing from Western Washington University and has worked in marketing and communications at nonprofit, private, and public sector organizations on a local and national scale. Toyo grew up exploring beaches and forests on the east coast and in the PNW and is happiest anywhere in earshot of crashing waves. In the summer, you can usually find her in the ever-growing garden she and her husband have built. During Bellingham's freezing, rainy winters, she is either baking or curled up with a book and her pups.
Josh is a 4th generation Washingtonian and was born and raised in the Yakima Valley where he grew up farming mint and grapes. Josh graduated from The Evergreen State College with a degree in environmental policy. In his previous role, Josh coordinated the state’s Office of Farmland Preservation, a program at the Conservation Commission where he collaborated with many stakeholders on issues related to preservation of farmland. In February of 2020, Josh joined the Regional Manger team as the Southwest Regional Manager providing direct service and support to these conservation districts: Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Lewis County, Mason, Pacific, and Wahkiakum. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family outdoors and fishing in both salt and freshwater for salmon and steelhead.
Lori Gonzalez joined the Commission in November 2007 as an Administrative Assistant. Prior to joining the Commission, she worked for the Department of Ecology’s Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program for five years. Lori assists with all aspects of administrative work and provides direct support to the Executive team and Commission members.
Sarah joined the State Conservation Commission in January 2015 as a fiscal analyst. She was promoted to her current role as the director of accounting and budget in 2019. In this position, she holds responsibility for all financial and budgetary affairs at SCC and supervises the six-person fiscal team. Sarah boasts an impressive background of over two decades of financial expertise in both the public and private sectors. Her wealth of knowledge encompasses the intricacies of state government operations, with a particular emphasis on budgeting. Before her tenure at SCC, Sarah served as a Fiscal Analyst in the Department of Enterprise Services, specifically within the Small Agency Client Services division. She also gained experience working for the state printer. She currently resides in Olympia, Washington, with her husband, two daughters, and two rambunctious pups. Sarah also serves on the Olympia Education Foundation board of trustees and enjoys traveling with her family.
Karla graduated from The Evergreen State College with a bachelor’s degree in Pre-law/Political Science. She has experience with the state legislature and provides fiscal notes and bill tracking for the agency during legislative sessions. Karla previously worked with the Washington State Dairy Federation for several years researching environmental issues, growth management issues, federal rules, and state statutes. Karla joined the State Conservation Commission in 2005. In 2022, Karla transitioned from her role as the contracts manager to her role as policy assistant.
Karen joined SCC in October 2022. Originally from interior Alaska, she earned a B.S. in Rural Sociology from Cornell University, an M.S.in Soil Science from University of Vermont, and a Ph.D. in Crop Science from Washington State University. Karen enjoys working at the interface of science and practice and has over 15 years of combined experience working with the agricultural community through roles with land grant university extension and a conservation district. Over the years, she has worked on projects involving soil health, biochar, compost, and cover crops. In her free time, she likes to explore the San Juan Islands with her husband and two kids from her home base in Anacortes WA.
Christina joined the Conservation Commission in April 2023. Prior to joining the Commission, Christina served over ten years for State Government supporting Office of Financial Management, the Governor’s Office and Department of Enterprise services training program and information services. Information technology specialist for the Washington Department of Natural Resources supporting Forest Practices social media and web content. Most recently, IT Project Lead supporting Needs-Based Grants for licensed childcare facilities. She has her B.A. In Information Technology. She loves reading, the river and time at the baseball field.
Shana Joy joined the Conservation Commission in July 2014. Prior to joining the Commission she worked for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources as the Executive Director of the Natural Resource Conservation and Development Board, a position she held for five years. In this role Shana worked closely with 12 diverse conservation districts statewide as well as state and federal agency leaders to advance conservation districts in Alaska. Shana graduated with honors from Oregon State University with a B.S. in natural resource management focusing on fish and wildlife conservation. A native of Pend Oreille County, Shana enjoys gardening, cooking, hiking, fishing, and birding. In addition to managing the regional manager staff, Shana provides service and support as a regional manager to these conservation districts: Asotin County, Columbia, Palouse, Palouse-Rock Lake, Pine Creek, Pomeroy, and Whitman.
Levi Keesecker joined our team in January 2020 reviewing 5-year reports, providing work group assistance with monitoring design and analysis, conducting spatial analyses for critical area functions that span more than one county, and developing a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) guidance document for VSP monitoring. His background in study design and GIS, with experience in agriculture, marine, freshwater, and terrestrial systems worldwide is a great asset to this position. Levi is a graduate of UW and the University of Idaho.
Levi’s primary workstation is in Spokane, serving the 27 VSP counties statewide.
Alicia joined the Conservation Commission in May 2014 as an Administrative Assistant. Alicia provides agency administrative support to District and Commission staff. She is the agency Safety Officer, Service Coordinator, and Agency Transportation Officer. She also administers state vehicle lease agreements with districts, oversees agency inventory and archiving, and is involved in the district appointment process for the Commission.
Jodi has over fifteen years of experience in community engagement and environmental education, working for conservation districts, nonprofits, and public agencies. She earned bachelor's degrees at Washington State University in Anthropology and Natural Resource Management, and a Masters of Science from University of Idaho in Natural Resources, Science Communication, and Environmental Education. Growing up on a Palouse farm, she is passionate about the intersection between people and the natural world, bridging community members to address resource challenges and advance voluntary conservation efforts. In her downtime, she is creating art, working in the garden, or exploring the northwest by foot or river with her family.
B'Elanna is from rural Washington, but moved to Alaska in 2014 to pursue a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and Conservation at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. During the academic year, B'Elanna worked in the Institute of Arctic Biology research greenhouse, where they discovered their passion for botany. In the summers, they worked as a U.S. Forest Service Ranger in the Columbia River Scenic Area. They then traveled all over Northern rural Alaska as a health inspector with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. B'Elanna moved back to Washington in 2022 and is eager to re-explore the Pacific Northwest. In their free time, they enjoy outdoor adventures, playing Zimbabwean marimba, and spending time with their partner and cat.
Thomas is a 1st generation Washingtonian and was born and raised in Seattle. Being a Seattle native, he graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Sociology. Thomas brings to the Conservation Commission a wide range of knowledge, experience, and leadership in Information Technology. One of his goals for joining the Conservation Commission team is to bring his passion of IT and the environment together. Thomas brings with him a data centric view and an ability for blending business with technology innovation to right size fit the work or goals. When not at work, Thomas finds joy in exploring the Northwest with his family and commits time for coaching little league baseball. He is a lifelong Mariners fan and hopes to see them win a pennant. He is also a committed community leader. As an active parent and youth leader for Boy/Cub Scouts of America he teaches our youth positive conservation habits and educates on responsible outdoor practices.
Alec is originally from California, where he grew up hiking in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. He received his B.A. in Political Science in 2017 and his Masters in Public Service in 2022, both from Utah Valley University. Alec has worked for the state of Washington in contract regulation and compliance since 2017, before coming to the Conservation Commission in 2023. Alec enjoys reading history, learning about plants, drinking yerba mate, and working in his garden.
Born and raised in the Nutmeg state, Kate grew up enjoying the vibrant fall colors of Connecticut and the charm of small-town New England. In 2016, she carried her curiosity West to attend The Evergreen State College, where she graduated in 2020 with her BA in Gender and Women’s studies. In April 2022, she joined SCC from the Dept. of Licensing, bringing with her office, fiscal, and customer service experience. She is passionate about intersectional feminism and the conservation of natural resources and habitats. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, baking, and exploring the breathtaking PNW with her partner.
Kaisha comes to us from the University of Washington Medicine where she served as a Patient Access Representative for five years. Kaisha received her Associate in Science, and is currently working on her Bachelor in Business Administration. Kaisha prides herself in her creativity and professionalism in the workplace. In her free time, Kaisha enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time with her husband, son, and other family and friends.
Sarah joined SCC in fall 2022. With both rural and urban backgrounds, she grew up partly on a sheep farm in Kitsap County and also as a 4th generation Tacoma, Wash. resident. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Gonzaga University in Sociology with a minor in Marketing and holds a masters in Environment, Development, and Policy from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. She has over fifteen years of experience as a project coordinator and community engagement specialist, working for and with conservation districts, citizens, farmers, non-profits, and agencies in Washington state. Her family owns and operates an organic and cage-free egg farm in Roy. With her husband and two children, Sarah spends her spare time camping around the Northwest, attending youth ice hockey games, and rooting for Gonzaga basketball.
Ashley graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Finance. Ashley joined the SCC in February2020 after working as a Fiscal Analyst for the Office of the Attorney General. As a Fiscal Analyst, Ashley provides general support to programs and staff at all levels and performs specialized fiscal duties in the financial division. Ashley currently works with the following grants: CTD, Engineering, Envirothon, Fire Recovery, Irrigation Efficiencies, and Livestock.
Courtney graduated from Saint Martin’s University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. She joined SCC in 2008 and has worked with all grant programs at SCC. She is the grants manager and currently works with the following grant programs: DOH-NEP, Implementation, NRCS Task Orders, Riparian Plant Propagation Program (RPPP), Salmon Recovery, Shrubsteppe, and Sustainable Farms & Fields (SFF). Courtney is also a member of the Conservation Practice Data System (CPDS) team and publishes the monthly Financial Times Newsletter.