- Who We Are
- Meet Our Team
Meet Our Team
Dana Coggon joined the District in February 2022. Her passion is connecting people to the places they love and inspiring all to value the natural wonders of Pierce County.
Before coming to PCD, Dana spent 15 years as the Director of the Kitsap County Noxious Weed control board, where she worked directly with landowners to establish healthy ecosystems.
At the District she supports staff to educate and inspire community members to be innovative environmental stewards. As she does this, she works hard to create a team environment of equity and inclusion.
Dana plans to continue to build on the excellent work done by the District to support community-driven solutions to our most pressing environmental challenges, and is excited to implement the 2021-2025 Strategic Plan.
I believe when we take care of our land and water ways, we also contribute to the health of people, our communities, and our economy. - Dana Coggon
Finance & Administration
Cynthia Ross, Finance Manager
Cynthia joined Pierce Conservation District in January, 2017 as the Finance Coordinator. Cynthia is responsible for assisting the Finance & Administration team with the day to day financials of the District as well as related activities and future planning. Cynthia enjoys gardening, reading, and volunteering in and around the community. Cynthia believes in continuously doing her part to help reduce the dependency of natural resources by limiting her use of water, gas, and electricity and by recycling.
Kristine Lewis, Grants & Contracts Manager
Kristine joined Pierce Conservation District in April 2017. Kristine coordinates grant and contract administration for the District. Kristine enjoys spending time with her family, paper crafts, and reading.
Mehgan Nishiyama, Administrative Assistant
Mehgan joined Pierce Conservation District as an Administrative Assistant in August of 2019, after serving nine years in the Air Force Reserves. She will be responsible for providing general administrative support to our staff. She was born and raised in Washington.
Harvest Pierce County
Kristen McIvor, Harvest Pierce County Program Director
Kristen is the director of Harvest Pierce County, the urban agriculture program of the Pierce Conservation District – supporting over 90 active community gardens and orchards. She has been working to develop sustainable food systems in Tacoma, WA since 2006 and received her PhD in Forest Resources from the University of Washington in 2011. In addition to her work with community gardens, her career has focused improving urban soil for agriculture through recycling of organic residuals, and the social conditions that influence how people learn in community gardens.
Madeleine Spencer, Harvest Pierce County Program Manager
Madeleine joined the Harvest Pierce County team in March 2017 as a Program Specialist where she primarily supports the Veggie Co-op and Gleaning projects. A graduate of The Evergreen State College, her studies focused on the connections between social justice and the environment. Having grown up in Pierce County she is passionate about serving the community by expanding access to fresh and healthy food.
Saiyare Refaei, Harvest Pierce County Program Coordinator
Saiyare joined the Harvest Pierce County team in September of 2019 for capacity building and further community engagement and outreach. A graduate of Pacific Lutheran University in Environmental Studies and intersections with Anthropology, Hispanic studies and Studio Arts. Saiyare is passionate about working towards more resilient and regenerative food systems with and for the community most impacted by systemic injustices.
Erica Hernandez, Harvest Pierce County Program Coordinator
Erica joined us as an AmeriCorps service member in 2018 and now as a Program Coordinator will be supporting our community gardens and farm education programming. Born and raised in Tacoma, Erica has a strong connection to place here in Pierce County and is dedicated to serving her community. Erica is coming into this new position with four years of experience farming and has a personal farm project entering its second growing season in the spring of 2022.
Devon Kerr, Harvest Pierce County Program Coordinator
Devon began her work with Harvest Pierce County as an AmeriCorps service member in 2021 and then joined the team as staff in a Program Coordinator position. Devon is leading our community events, supporting the Gleaning Project, Native Plant Sale, Community Garden network, and communications. Devon is a graduate of the Evergreen State College’s Tacoma Program garnering a Liberal Arts degree with a focus on Social Justice and Political Economy. Having grown up on a small hobby farm in gorgeous central New Jersey coupled with an internship at Garden Raised Bounty (GRuB) in Olympia, Washington in the spring of 2018, Devon realized the potential that forming a relationship to land through the act of collective food growing could have for individuals and community alike. Through these experiences a belief was borne in Devon that regenerative agriculture has the power to act as a conduit for the reparative work needed for racial, climate, and environmental justice and for the restoration of our individual human souls. With a background in Social Work, Devon hopes to find a way to offer therapeutic modalities through the application of agricultural supported community and horticultural therapy.
Joslyn Brown, AmeriCorps Service Member
Joslyn will be serving Harvest Pierce County by supporting our gleaning program and native plant sale as an AmeriCorps member for the 2022-2023 year. A graduate of the University of Washington Tacoma in sustainable urban development, passionate about increasing environmental equity within the community. Joslyn is interested in the interconnection of people and their physical environment, with the intention to develop sustainable cities that are human forward. As a PNW native she enjoys exploring the outdoors, drinking iced coffee, and obsessing over our sunsets.
Water Quality Improvement
Melissa Buckingham, Water Quality Improvement Program Director
Melissa Buckingham joined Pierce Conservation District over 10 years ago and has experience in restoration ecology, environmental science, and project and program management. As the Water Quality Improvement and Monitoring Program Director you can find her in a stream, installing a rain garden, ripping up pavement, or planting a streamside. Her favorite part of her job is connecting community to the natural world around them through action projects.
Belinda Paterno, Water Quality Program Manager
Belinda grew up in Western Washington and spent weeks during the summer months traveling to different national parks with her parents. Experiencing firsthand the beauty of nature and wanting to learn more about the environment led Belinda to study environmental science at the University of Montana and Washington State University. Belinda has a background in both field research and environmental education. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, camping, and running in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Robb Krehbiel, Green Stormwater Program Manager
As the Green Stormwater Program Manager, Robb works with homeowners, community groups, and businesses in the most urban watersheds in Pierce County to prevent polluted stormwater runoff from reaching our creeks, rivers, and the Salish Sea. Robb is passionate about transforming our cities and urban communities by replacing concrete and lawns with rain gardens and native plants. Before joining PCD in 2021, Robb worked across the west with environmental nonprofits, including Defenders of Wildlife, National Parks Conservation Association, and Environment Washington. When he’s not spending time in a garden, Robb is either out on the trails with his dog Zorro or exploring the excellent microbreweries in the South Sound.
Joe Farkas, Landscape Design Program Coordinator
Joe is a nature enthusiast who enjoys the beauties that Mother Nature has to offer. His happy place is either gardening, weeding, or going on adventures with his pup, Cowboy! After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture and design back in Romania, his true passion blossomed moving to the United States. In the U.S. he found a great support system of people who share his values of conserving and protecting natural habitats and connecting people back with Mother Nature. Before joining PCD, he worked for a couple of Landscape design and build companies in the Pierce County area.
Syd Kuczenski, AmeriCorps Water Quality Specialist
Syd was born and raised in North Carolina and graduated from North Carolina State with a degree in Marine Science in 2022. Her background is in phytoplankton blooms, water quality monitoring for the city of Raleigh, and freshwater mussel toxicity. If allowed, she will talk your head off about sharks and other deep, dark marine mysteries. When not at the office you can find her hiking, whitewater kayaking, swimming, or cooking with her pup.
Cecilia Black, AmeriCorps Water Quality Specialist
Cecilia grew up in Puyallup. She spent the last 6 years in Spokane, New Hampshire, and Spain only to confirm that Western Washington is the place for her. At Gonzaga University she studied Spanish and Biology with a focus in Research and Ecology. She loves camping and hiking, plant identification and heckling the people in her life about planting native species. Much of her time recently has been spent training her family dog to be the perfect adventure buddy.
Heather Green, Habitat Improvement Program Director
Heather joined Pierce Conservation District in September 2021 after having spent a decade working for the state of California on large-scale tidal wetland habitat restoration projects. She grew up in western Washington and is excited to return home to lead the Habitat Improvement program as it expands to develop larger and more diverse habitat projects to benefit Pierce County. In her spare time Heather enjoys traveling, hiking, camping, and playing the violin.
Mary Krauszer, Shorelines Program Manager
Mary joined Pierce Conservation District as the Shorelines Program Manager in 2019 to launch the Shore Friendly Pierce program and expand PCD's scope to include marine shorelines. Mary works with landowners and managers on private and public properties to implement shoreline restoration and stewardship projects through technical assistance and project management. Mary grew up in Alaska and spent several years environmental education and public engagement in the Tacoma area after attending the University of Puget Sound. She is a roller derby player, jigsaw puzzler, and marine biology buff.
Ryan Bird, Habitat Restoration Manager
Ryan assists in the planning, coordination and implementation of riparian restoration projects that are aimed at improving salmon and wildlife habitat. Ryan grew up in the PNW and has always had a strong affinity for nature, which primed him for a career in natural resources. He holds a bachelor’s degree in wildlife ecology and conservation sciences, and a master’s degree in ecology and environmental biology. In addition to his passion for the outdoors, Ryan is an avid reader and a multi-instrumentalist who is unlikely to ever turn down a jam sesh.
Glenn Johnson, Riparian Stewardship Program Manager
Glenn joined Pierce Conservation District in January 2022, after working as a wildlife biologist and natural resources project manager in western Washington for the prior 11 years. He helps PCD build and maintain partnerships focused on salmon habitat restoration and other riparian conservation projects, including providing technical assistance to landowners. Glenn supports PCD’s role in the Floodplains for the Future program, working with over 20 federal, state, and local partner organizations and contractors in the Puyallup River watershed. He grew up in the southern Willamette Valley in Oregon, where he learned to appreciate riparian floodplains and forests. Glenn spends his free time walking with his family and/or birding, and is a regular contributor to eBird. He volunteers as a board member of the Puget Sound Bird Observatory.
Sage Friedman, AmeriCorps Habitat Improvement Specialist
Sage recently graduated from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY. She grew up here in the Pacific Northwest and is excited to be back! She loves to hike, backpack, and mushroom hunt. When not outside you can find her cooking or going to live music shows.
Farm Planning & Agricultural Assistance
René Skaggs, Farm Planning and Agricultural Assistance Program Director
Rene’ has been a farm resource specialist with the Pierce Conservation District since 1997 educating livestock farm owners on management practices that both improve their farm productivity and protect natural resources. She and her family live on a 10 acre, 6 horse farm in rural Pierce County where she practices what she teaches.
Paul Borne, Key Peninsula, Gig Harbor, Islands Farm Resource Manager
Paul, a long-time resident of Pierce County, joined Pierce Conservation District in March 2018 after working for many years at the King Conservation District. As the KGI Farm Resource Specialist, Paul will work with livestock owners in the Key Peninsula-Gig Harbor-Islands Watershed to help them address natural resource concerns on their farms and improve local water quality. He believes that we all have a part in protecting our environment and is excited to now be working in his neighborhood – Pierce County. When he is not promoting conservation at work, Paul enjoys enhancing the wildlife habitat in his backyard and observing nature around him.
Alison Nichols, Crop Farm Manager
Ali is available to assist crop farm operators in planning and applying natural resource conservation practices and facilitate workshops and technical support around topics relevant to farmers in Pierce County. She will also be working collaboratively with government agencies and non-profit partners to support the needs of farmers contributing to a vibrant local food system. She is excited to connect farmers with each other and with the ideas and practices that will help them succeed in their farms while conserving their natural resources for the generations to come.
Sarah Lemon, Puyallup-White River Farm Resource Specialist
Sarah is joining the Farm team as the new Puyallup-White River watershed Farm Resource Specialist. She joins us after several years of full-time livestock farming, most recently at Carnation Farms in Carnation, WA. Her background includes a BS in geology from Colgate, an MS in geophysics from the University of Wisconsin, and a recent Graduate Certificate in Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership from Arizona State University. Sarah brings expertise in soil science, agricultural policy, and education as well as hands on experience with a wide variety of livestock (poultry, sheep, goats, cattle, swine) and in poultry processing. Outside the office Sarah can be found working sheep for fun, dancing, and exploring her new Pacific Northwest home.
Communications, Outreach, and Education
Melissa Tatro, Communications and Outreach Director
Melissa Tatro joined Pierce Conservation District in December 2022 bringing with her more than 20 years of public service experience in K-12 education, communications, strategic partnership building, and workforce development. Formerly on staff at King Conservation District, Melissa worked to raise the District’s public profile and empower urban and BIPOC constituents to be stewards of our natural resources. Melissa lives on acreage in the Cedar River Watershed where she has raised American Guinea hogs, bees, and chickens and currently grows flowers as a cash crop, for their beauty, and as a soul nourishing balm.
Camila Matamala-Ost, Communications and Outreach Manager
Camila is excited to get more people involved with the District’s volunteer opportunities and to help make our programs more accessible to the diverse population of Pierce County. Camila cultivated her interest in the environment by studying environmental science at Oregon State University in Corvallis. Her favorite aspects of the job at PCD are interacting with volunteers personally and getting them plugged into great opportunities, and the creative process of capturing photos and designing outreach pieces that will get people excited about stewardship work.
Marlie Sloan, AmeriCorps Outreach Specialist
Marlie is a Puyallup local through and through. A 2022 Puyallup High School graduate, she is working towards a degree in the environmental field, is interested in agriculture, and worked some farm jobs in high school. She likes being outside and is always down to go for a hike or ride bikes. You can probably catch her petting dogs, eating ice cream, or hanging out with her neighbors. She looks forward to helping make the outdoors a better place for everyone!
Chris Towe, Environmental Education Program Manager
Chris Towe joined the District in 2010 after graduating from Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. Chris primarily works with volunteers on restoration plantings and providing environmental education to students throughout Pierce County. He actively participates in local networks that focus on environmental education and outreach. One of his favorite parts about his job is seeing how excited kids get when they explore their environment and see new, interesting things.
Katherine Hackney, AmeriCorps Conservation Education Specialist
Katherine recently graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Environmental Science and a geoscience focus. She grew up in Ohio but have spent the last 7 years here in the PNW. She is a proud cat mom to her spoiled boy, Gandalf. Most of her free time is spent hiking, surfing, backpacking, snowboarding, gardening, and cooking.
Nicholas Cusick, Climate Resiliency Program Manager
Resiliency means collaboration, social cohesion, and fitting the right resources in place at the right time to make good work happen. Nick believes this to be especially true for our rural communities, which, with sustainable and healthy practices, are critical pieces in developing robust, local solutions to climate change. Nick brings several years of experience in project management, GIS analysis, and stakeholder engagement to his work in environmental conservation, as well as a deep-rooted belief in forging reciprocal relationships with Pierce County's farmers, foresters, and rural landowners.
Collective Bargaining Agreements
Pierce Conservation District staff unionized under Council 2 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in late 2021. The union ratified its first Collective Bargaining Agreement in December 2022.
Check out our current Collective Bargaining Agreement below.