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
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 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.
Saiyare Refaei, Harvest Pierce County Program Manager
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 Manager
Erica joined us as an AmeriCorps service member in 2018 and then was hired as a Program Coordinator before becoming a Program Manager in 2023. They will be managing farm education programming (Farm Foundations), as well as supporting our community gardens, urban farming projects, and incubator farm. 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 several years of experience farming and has a personal farm project of their own.
Devon Kerr, Harvest Pierce County Program Manager
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 manages our community events, the Gleaning Project, and the Native Plant Sales. 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, Harvest Pierce County Program Coordinator
Joslyn aids Harvest Pierce County as a Program Coordinator position, working to support our Community Gardens, the Gleaning Project, and events. 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.
Thabisa Mazur, Harvest Pierce County Program Manager
Thabisa joined Pierce Conservation District in July 2023 as the Harvest Pierce County Farm Program Manager. Thabisa provides capacity building and technical assistance for our Goss Farm Incubator Program, Urban Farms, and community gardens. With a degree in Horticulture from Iowa State University and a background in research, managing small-scale regenerative farms, and supporting volunteers and school gardens, they are excited to cultivate more resilient communities and ecosystems with the HPC team. Apart from gardening, Thabisa enjoys playing at the beach with their partner and dog, trying new crafts every winter, and attempting ambitious baking recipes.
Lex Barnard, Gleaning Specialist AmeriCorps Member
Lex is the 2023-2024 season’s Americorps Gleaning Specialist. They’re a recent transplant from Florida (Seminole/Timucuan and Ais territories) who was lucky enough to plop down right into the middle of the best possible place to learn about agriculture and conservation here in Pierce County. He’s also an herbalist-in-training, native plant nerd, is extremely passionate about food security, building community, land stewardship, making friends with any animal they come across, and learning from and listening to Indigenous wisdom and science. Previously a professional baker, Lex values the connection people form with each other through the food we eat and seeks to continue exploring and creating that bond we have with our food through the work at Harvest Pierce County. Previously, Lex has interned with IDEAS for Us as a farming intern through their Fleet Farming program and is currently a student with the Florida School of Holistic Living. After trying to volunteer with PCD since moving here, he jumped at this opportunity to join through an Americorps position. Lex spends his free time learning about their new home here in the PNW, planning hiking and foraging trips, cooking, baking, and making new friends.
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.
Bryan Mohlman, Habitat Stewardship Program Manager
Bryan grew up in Southern California near the LA area. He spent much of his childhood in and around local hiking trails and park spaces. He moved to Western Washington after college and fell in love with the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Bryan Decided to take a more direct role in habitat restoration by participating in the Habitat Steward Program at PCD in 2021. In 2023 Bryan successfully completed his master’s degree in environmental studies to strengthen his knowledge of how to rebuild and reinforce natural habitat within a rapidly growing urban environment. He loves being able to spend time in the urban green spaces that provide so many positive benefits to our cities and ensure they remain resilient for years to come.
Graham French, Water Quality Specialist AmeriCorps Member
Graham is one of the 2023-2024 season’s AmeriCorps Water Quality Specialists. She is passionate about improving water quality through restoration ecology, green stormwater capture, and urban habitat management. As a Pierce County resident, Graham is excited to help improve local water quality and build connection with local communities. In her free time, Graham enjoys spending time in forests, having quality time with her chickens, and creating art such as painting, jewelry, and small hand sewn projects.
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.
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.
Communications, Outreach, and Education
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.
Maddie Snook, Environmental Education AmeriCorps Member
Maddie spent most of their life in the Pacific Northwest and developed a love for the natural world through its landscape and wildlife. They earned a degree in Earth & Conservation Science from Washington State University and since graduation, they have traveled across the country taking on multiple roles within conservation and education. This included ambassador animal training, summer camp instructing, and zookeeping. Now they are an AmeriCorps member for the education program at Pierce Conservation District.
Jessica Hogan, Wildfire Preparedness Program Manager
Jessica joined Pierce Conservation District in 2023 as the Wildfire Preparedness Program Manager. With a background in firefighting and emergency management, Jessica brings a wealth of experience to the table. Currently, in her final year of a bachelor’s program in Homeland Security/Emergency Management, she is eager to learn and grow with the team. Jessica has worked as a career firefighter and wildland firefighter, as well as an ER Technician in a hospital. She is passionate about giving back to her community and is thrilled to be able to do so in her new role. When she's not studying or working, Jessica enjoys spending time outdoors with her fiancé and two chocolate labs, exploring the beautiful terrain of the area she was born and raised in.
Gracie DeMeo, Communications & Community Engagement Manager
Gracie DeMeo joined Pierce Conservation District in 2023. She is originally from the Pacific Northwest but has traveled across the United States in search of unique natural locations and their stories. She has a Masters in Environmental Studies from Antioch University of New England, where she studied the intricacies of connecting people with nature. When not buried deep in a graphic design program, she enjoys talking to the plants in her raised garden beds, birdwatching with her dad's hand-me-down binoculars, and piddling away on the piano.
Bailey Wambold, Volunteer Coordinator
Bailey joined Pierce Conservation District in Autumn 2023. She was born in Pierce County but spent most of her childhood in Northern California and returned to the wonderful Pacific Northwest while serving in the Navy. Bailey earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington Tacoma, where she studied Environmental Sustainability and the ways people interact with their environment and each other. She is passionate about serving her community and helping people discover the joys of volunteering and teamwork, making her role with PCD something of a dream come true. When not at work, Bailey enjoys spending quality time with her partner and animals, playing in the garden, and, you guessed it, volunteering.
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.