Conservation Commission News

SCC Director Update - Feb. 2024

SCC Director Update - Feb. 2024

Message from SCC Executive Director, James Thompson  

James Thompson

The last two months have been a whirlwind and I want to thank all the SCC staff, partners, and affiliated agencies for their support. In this new role, I have found myself continuously impressed with the passion and professionalism both within the agency and its associated stakeholders. I am delighted to be part of this community.

I have spent time with many of you talking about how we pursue our goals and how we can work collaboratively. I look forward to continuing these conversations as well as operationalizing the things I have learned. For me, part of this work will include filling vacant positions (with a sense of urgency) and aligning people into rational work teams. I have begun to make some changes that will help us realize our long-term vision and help us be more effective now.

Firstly, I am pleased to announce that Levi Keesecker has been appointed to the position of Ecosystems Manager and head of the SCC Science Hub. In this role he will provide leadership both internally and in coordination with external partners to help us match science to policy in developing excellent conservation programs. Levi’s work will benefit us greatly, and I encourage you to join me in assisting in his success.

Since coming to the agency, I have been deeply immersed in our policy work while fulfilling my responsibilities as Director. I have found that the demand in this area is significant. Happily, Karla Heinitz has expanded her role and provides strong leadership for us. Still, there is much to do. Therefore, I am expanding our team by asking Kate Delavan to serve as acting policy director. She has graciously accepted and will step into that role immediately. Kate will continue to support the great work that the Office of Farmland Preservation does while taking on this new role.

You will notice that the structure of our policy team has changed from earlier iterations. We have done this to accommodate the evolving needs of our organization and make best use of the talents of very good people. I expect this structure will also allow additional time for meeting directly with conservation districts and partnering agencies.

Also in line with expanding policy development capacity is our work in tribal engagement, an important initiative for the Commission. So this past week, I was delighted to have staff attend the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians' 2024 Winter Convention. Our team is honored to have had the opportunity to listen to and learn from tribal leaders across the northwest. We are grateful for the chance to connect around our shared goals.

As always, I welcome connection and encourage you to reach out. My cell phone is always on, and I look forward to hearing from all of you as we continue our important work.


- James

ATNI Winter Convention 2024

📸: From Left to right; first lady Aimee Wilson, Oregon Governor Tina Kotek, SCC Communications Director Paige DeChambeau, and SCC Executive  Director James Thompson.