Alan Christensen, President, Restoration Committee Chair
Alan is a retired wildlife biologist who has worked for Federal, State and non-profit conservation organizations for over 40 years. His work took him to most western States, several Canadian provinces, Far Eastern Russia, and Lebanon. He received his BS and MS degrees in wildlife science from Oregon State University, served in the US Navy, and then resided and worked predominantly in Montana, Idaho and Oregon, where he is retired and residing in Portland. He was lucky to work with big game, bears, forest raptors, neotropical songbirds and their habitat. He and his wife Judy enjoy hiking, gardening, floating rivers and camping.
Mark Newell, Past President
Growing up in Montana, Mark developed a passion for the outdoors, that passion has been a driving factor in his life. He has worked a variety of jobs in New Mexico, Montana, Alaska, and Oregon. He has worked with incarcerated youth and adults, people with substance abuse problems, special education students, as well as psychiatric patients. Many of these in an experiential education outdoor learning setting. He has been a rock climbing, canyoneering, mountaineering, hunting and fishing, and white water rafting guide. He owned his own business teaching people how to run a dog team in the Alaska wilderness and ran dogsledding expeditions into Denali National Park as well as on the Iditarod trail. He feels like he has been incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunities he was given and now wishes to share outdoor experiences with others.
Michelle Miller, President Elect
Willem has been working with non-profit organizations for over 25 years starting with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, followed by naturalist with Bay Net in Monterey, volunteer at the visitor center and naturalist at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, skipper for Sea Scouts of America and since January last year volunteer at our visitor center. He also spent 7 years on boards of different non-profit organizations. Recently Willem joined the Friends board as treasurer and immediately dived into the secrets of 503(c) (3) accounting, especially the fascinating reading of FASB #116.
Irene Vlach, Secretary
Irene has been involved with non-profits her whole life, starting with the University of Waterloo PERG board (Ontario, Canada). For 25 years she was an active member of the Oregon Chapter Sierra Club High Desert Committee. She served on the Columbia Group executive committee and earned several awards from the Club.
Irene was the grassroots organizer of the newly formed Oregon Conservation Network in 1995, and from 1995 to 2009 was program assistant for The Lazar Foundation. After moving temporarily back to her native Switzerland she returned to Portland to work for 2 years for The Intertwine Alliance as office manager.
Upon retirement in 2014, she started volunteering for the Friends of Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. Her primary contribution to the Friends has been staffing the Visitor Center. She took the Naturalists’ training, spent a season doing an early morning kestrel nesting survey and helped collect and prepare for preservation plant specimens under the guidance of Ginny at the Wapato unit. In the spring of 2018 she joined the Membership Strategy Committee.
Bonnie Anderson, Co-Chair Tualatin River Bird Festival
Bonnie has been a Friends Board member since 2008 and was Chair of the Annual Tualatin River Bird Festival and Native Plant Sale from 2010-2018. The Festival draws between 900-1300 visitors to the Refuge on a single day and is a free, family-friendly event. Bonnie's favorite part about being a Friends member is enjoying volunteering at the Refuge with her family and encouraging her children to find their role in nature conservation. Bonnie can be found most days on the Refuge, working on behalf of the Friends organization.
Dawn Carovano, Membership Coordinator
Gary Fawver, Environmental Education Committee
Gary enjoys his role at the refuge as a Friends volunteer naturalist. One of his goals as a lifelong camp director was to introduce children, young people, and families to the beauty, wonder, and fun of spending time in the outdoors. Programs such as Puddle Stompers and school outdoor education provide opportunities to continue fulfilling this goal in his retirement. Wildlife and flowers at the refuge are ready subjects for his hobby of photography. Gary also serves on the Friends of the Refuge board by helping give direction to the Environmental Education committee.
Cheryl Hart, Store Chair, President Emeritus
Cheryl has been working with nonprofit organizations for over 30 years serving in both staff and Board positions with various groups. She joined Friends when she moved to Portland in 2005 and has served on the Board since 2006. She is Chair of the Store Committee and serves on several other Friends Committees. She served as President of the Board from 2011- 2015.
Tom Hartz, President Emeritus, Environmental Education Committee Chair
Tom Hartz, PhD, is a retired scientist with 6 years university teaching experience and over 35 years in medical device and diagnostics research, development and product support. He has served for over 10 years on the boards of non-profits devoted to education and child development. He joined the Friends Board in 2014. Tom is a Volunteer Naturalist, the 2015 Youth Camp Committee Chair, and is a member of the Governance Committee, the Education Committee and the Photography Society. The Refuge fuels Tom's passions for sharing the wonders of nature with others, particularly with kids, and continuing to learn about wildlife and habitats with the Friends and FWS.
Keith Mays, President Emeritus
In addition to his service on the Board of Friends of TRNWR, Keith is also the current Mayor of Sherwood, Oregon. He was re-elected in March and November of 2018. He previously served four years as council president (2001-05) and eight years as mayor of Sherwood from 2005-13. Over the past 20-plus years, Mayor Mays has served as president of the Oregon Mayors Association, the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce, the Friends of Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge and the Willamette River Water Coalition. He has also served as a member of Metro’s MPAC and on several League of Oregon Cities committees (is currently their Treasurer).
Keith is a third generation Oregonian, a graduate of North Eugene H.S. and Linfield College, local trade sector business owner, and resident of Sherwood for more than 20 years. Mayor Mays is a Sherwood Rotarian and currently sits on boards and committees for several local and regional non-profit and government organizations advocating for and serving Sherwood families.
Sharon Miller, Store Business Manager
Sharon has been volunteering at the Refuge for over ten years, and has been on the Board since 2011. She is the Business Manager for the Nature’s Overlook retail store and, along with the FWS, supervises the Friends Interpretive Program Coordinator. She is retired from managing staff and programs for seniors and people with disabilities at the state and local level in Oregon and continues to volunteer as a personal advocate for seniors experiencing financial, health or legal issues. She serves on two other non-profit boards and is a Certified Master Recycler
Michelle Scholz, Membership
Michelle is a life-long birder and outdoor enthusiast who enjoys sharing her passion for nature with children and young adults. She began volunteering as a Friends volunteer naturalist, visitor center helper, and trail rover in 2017. She has a BS in zoology from the University of Sheffield in her native England and a Masters in teaching from Oregon State University. Before relocating to Sherwood, she taught English to international students at OSU and now teaches in K-12.