Commission Staff

Meet Our Talented Team

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.

View the agency organizational chart (updated November 2019)

Carol Smith, PhD

Executive Director

Carol was appointed as Executive Director in May 2019. She previously worked for the Washington State Conservation Commission from 1998-2014 managing the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program — Washington’s largest streamside habitat restoration program for salmon — and science-related issues.

She returns to the Conservation Commission after spending the last four and a half years at the Washington State Department of Ecology where she managed the Environmental Assessment Program, which is the science-arm of the agency. Smith also has worked for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Morehouse School of Medicine, and she directed a chemistry laboratory in California.

Smith grew up near McCleary, Washington. She worked for Simpson Timber Company for several years while attending college at Saint Martin’s University. She has a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in various biological sciences from the University of Hawaii.

Mike Baden

Regional Manager – North Central and Northeast

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.

Allisa Carlson

Regional Manager – South Central

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

Habitat and Monitoring Coordinator

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 Department of Environmental Quality, US Army Yakima Training Center, and Yakima County’s Flood Control and Stormwater programs. Brian brings his habitat monitoring and restoration experience to the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), and coordinates salmon restoration efforts, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and stormwater activities. In addition to playing music and tinkering with boatbuilding and old car projects, Brian enjoys getting outdoors hiking, snowshoeing, and sailing.

Stephanie Crouch

Administrative Assistant

Stephanie grew up in Washington State and always enjoyed being outside and learning more about where she lives. She received a Bachelor of Arts with an emphasis in Psychology from The Evergreen State College in 2017. Before joining the Conservation Commission in April 2020, she worked with KNKX Public Radio in their Development Department. In her spare time you can find Stephanie making pies, going on bike rides, surfing, and hanging out with her partner and their dog.

Jon Culp

Water Resources Program Manager

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.

Kate Delavan

Office of Farmland Preservation Coordinator

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

Voluntary Stewardship Program Coordinator

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 Fike

Regional Manager – Puget Sound

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.

Josh Giuntoli

Southwest Regional Manager

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

Executive Assistant

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 Groth

Fiscal Manager

Sarah Groth joined the Conservation Commission in January 2015. Sarah brings over 20 years of financial experience in the public and private sectors. Prior to being hired on at the Commission, Sarah was a Fiscal Analyst for the Department of Enterprise Services, Small Agency Client Services division.

Alison Halpern, PhD

Policy Assistant

Alison joined the Washington State Conservation Commission (SCC) in July 2018. She came to the SCC after working for the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board for thirteen years, first as its Education Specialist and then its Executive Secretary. She earned her Ph.D. in Ecology from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY, where she studied the ecology of a freshwater invasive plant. Although Alison and her husband Curt are New England natives, they have lived in the Midwest, Southern California, and Upstate New York before calling the Pacific Northwest home.

Karla Heinitz

Management Analyst

Karla Heinitz graduated from The Evergreen State College with a B.A. Degree in Pre-law/Political Science. She worked for the Washington State Senate as a Senate Intern during the 2001 Legislative Session. Karla then worked at the Washington State Dairy Federation as the Research Analyst for several years researching environmental issues, growth management issues, federal rules, and state statutes, and bill tracking during the legislative session. Karla joined the State Conservation Commission in 2005 as a contracts specialist. She works with the Livestock Program, manages agency contracts, and serves as the public records officer. Karla also is a licensed notary.

Laura Johnson

Communications Manager

Laura holds a Master’s degree in environmental communication from Prescott College and a BA in film and video from Grand Valley State University. Her graduate research explored how to design conservation campaigns that foster stewardship behavior, particularly in rural, low-income communities. Laura grew up in a small, rural town in northeast Michigan along the shores of Lake Huron. She moved to Washington in 2006 and enjoys the activities, beauty, and food afforded by the state’s diverse landscapes.

Shana Joy

Southeast Regional Manager / Regional Manager Coordinator

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

Natural Resources Scientist

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 McClendon

Administrative Assistant

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.

Jack Myrick

Irrigation Efficiencies

Jack Myrick comes to the SCC from Walla Walla Community College where he was an instructor in the Irrigation Technology/Water Management Program. He brings 40 years of experience in large scale agricultural irrigation system design, construction and management, and has worked in several states and foreign countries.

Ron Shultz

Director of Policy and Inter-governmental Relations

Ron Shultz is the Director of Policy and Inter-governmental Relations. He is the agency lead on the Puget Sound Partnership, wetland mitigation issues, and he also supports the Office of Farmland Preservation. Ron was formerly the Director of Programs and the Acting Executive Director at the Puget Sound Partnership and was the Natural Resources Advisor to Governor Gary Locke. He was also Policy Director for Audubon Washington from 1995 to 2001. Ron is an attorney and a fourth generation Washingtonian.

Melissa Vander Linden

Program Specialist

Melissa grew up in Thurston County and has been with the Conservation Commission since November 2013. As a Program Specialist, she works with the financial team to administer programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement (CREP) and the Natural Resource Investments (NRI) Grants. Melissa also works closely with the Conservation Practice Data System (CPDS).

Ashley Wood

Fiscal Analyst

Ashley joined the SCC in February 2020 after working as a Fiscal Analyst for the Office of the Attorney General. She graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Finance. As a Fiscal Analyst, Ashley provides general support to programs and staff at all levels and performs specialized fiscal duties in the financial division.

Courtney Woods

Grants / Programs

Courtney graduated from Saint Martin’s University with a bachelors degree in Business Administration. As a program specialist, she works with all programs, which include the Implementation, Puget Sound, Engineering, and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).