Board of Directors

Group of board directors standing in front of trees
Bird Alliance of Oregon Board of Directors

Board Officers

President: Debbie Elliott
Vice President: Rich Van Buskirk
Secretary: Colleen McDaniel
Treasurer: Susie Sullivan

Members-at-Large

Ricky Allen
Eric Block
Amanda Jordan Brainard
Mark Greenfield
Vicente Harrison
Roberta Jortner
Audrey Leonard
Sergio Lopez
Ruth Morton
Judith Ramaley
Elizabeth Semler
Pamela Slaughter
Allan Solares
Tammy Spencer
Bob Sternberg

Information regarding how to recommend members for nomination to serve on our board of directors is located at the bottom of this page.

Board Bios

Debbie Elliott, President

COMMITTEES: Executive Committee, Board Affairs Committee, Finance Committee, Development Committee

Debbie Elliott was first introduced to birds and nature while “helping” her grandfather feed Blue Jays in-shell peanuts on his deck railing and calling out for bobwhites in the Spring. Although she grew up in Maryland, she moved West for college and then to the Pacific Northwest for the nature our region has to offer.

Debbie retired after nearly 25 years of working in business with renowned consumer goods companies, including 19 years with Nike where she held numerous leadership and strategic planning positions across the company’s global supply chain. Since retiring, she has used her professional skills to consult at Mercy Corps, mentor women in business, and serve in leadership roles for local non-profit organizations focused on the environment and local food. She previously served as Board President for Portland Farmers Market.

She loves the outdoors and spends time traveling, hiking, kayaking, and birding.

Rich Van Buskirk, Vice President

Rich Van Buskirk is Chair of the Environmental Science department at Pacific University in Forest Grove, where he teaches undergraduate courses in conservation, restoration, GIS and natural history. His research includes student surveys of elk foraging, collaborations with the Forest Service on coastal meadow restoration and a long-term exploration of American Kestrels and their relationship with Red-tailed Hawks. Dr. Van Buskirk’s research not only addresses ecological questions, but also serves to introduce the next generation of scientists to the challenges of conservation.

Dr. Van Buskirk is active within the nonprofit world, serving on the Board of the Tualatin River Watershed Council, a stakeholder group of natural resource organizations. Rich is also an officer for the Raptor Research Foundation, a scientific organization founded to disseminate research, and serves on the board of Coastal Raptors, a regional organization that promotes the conservation of Pacific Northwest birds of prey. He is excited to bring his knowledge and experience with conservation to Bird Alliance of Oregon.

Colleen McDaniel, Secretary

COMMITTEES: Executive Committee, Volunteer Program Committee

Colleen has been fascinated with birds and nature since she was a child growing up in Illinois on the Mississippi River. It wasn’t until graduate school at Montana State University though when she really caught the twitch for birding. Her love of birds brought her to Bird Alliance of Oregon where she began volunteering in 2014 at the Wildlife Care Center for baby bird season. Since then she has volunteered in many different areas, but her annual favorites are Bird-a-thon, Christmas Bird Count, and Swift Watch.

Currently, Colleen is a Biology and Environmental Science Educational Technology Specialist at Vernier Science Education. She loves helping teachers find new and exciting ways to use data collection technology to get their students excited about science. Prior to Vernier, Colleen taught Biology and AP Environmental Science in Houston, TX. Educating others about nature and the world around them is something Colleen is very passionate about and is a strong reason she enjoys volunteering with Bird Alliance of Oregon.

Susie Sullivan, Treasurer

COMMITTEE: Finance Committee

A native of Page, Arizona, Susie grew up running around the deserts of Northern Arizona. She became fascinated with animals and birds from a young age and got her first bird guide and binoculars at age 8. Growing up near the Vermillion Cliffs California Condor release site had a huge impact on her relationship with conservation and wildlife, especially vultures.

Fast forward to adulthood, Susie went into the field of finance and accounting and put her interest in wildlife aside for a while. After working in accounting for ten years, Susie founded her own business, Harmonix, which focuses on supporting creative entrepreneurs, startups and socially responsible businesses. She returned to working with birds by becoming involved with a local exotic bird rescue and helped with the fostering, adoption, and behavioral training of parrots, through which she and her husband adopted two large parrots themselves.

Susie is currently the Treasurer of the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council and Exotic Bird Rescue of Oregon. She started volunteering with Bird Alliance of Oregon in 2019, first in financial roles with the Wild Arts Festival and eventually in the Wildlife Care Center and Ambassador Animal programs. She has been part of the Finance Committee since 2022 and joined the board in 2023.

Susie is excited to leverage her financial expertise in supporting Bird Alliance of Oregon through its next phase of growth. She is passionate about helping people become more aware about their impact on the environment and wildlife and helping us all find ways to engage with conservation work and live more harmoniously with the animals we share our world with.

Members

Eric Block

Eric Block is a vice president with Metropolitan Group, an international strategic and creative agency based in Portland, Oregon that works solely with social purpose organizations. He is a strategist, facilitator and writer who has consulted with state and federal agencies, nonprofits, foundations and socially responsible businesses. Much of his work is with groups focused on environment and sustainability, with a focus on conservation, as well as the arts, culture and creative expression sector. His work with Metropolitan Group included leading the rebranding efforts for Bird Alliance of Oregon.

Prior to joining Metropolitan Group in 2008, Eric served as a communication officer for the global relief and development agency Mercy Corps. He was a spokesperson, secured earned media coverage, wrote and edited stories for the website and marketing materials, traveled to emergency response efforts that included post-earthquake Pakistan and New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, coordinated community outreach and engagement, and supported fundraising efforts. Eric received his Bachelors of Arts in Journalism from University of Minnesota.

Amanda Jordan Brainard

COMMITTEES: Executive Committee, Development Committee, and WCC Capital Campaign Committee

Amanda (along with her husband Colin) is a second generation family owner of Backyard Bird Shop.  Amanda comes to Bird Alliance of Oregon with over 15 years of mediation experience. She holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology from University of North Carolina Wilmington. Amanda also has a background in working with non-profits as a city Grants Manager and has served on numerous BODs. Combining her past work with nonprofits with her love and passion for birds and our native wildlife is a natural fit for involvement with Bird Alliance of Oregon. 

Amanda enjoys feeding her backyard birds, grounding herself by spending time on our local nature trails, and  helping others connect and care about nature. Amanda believes that connecting with nature in their community helps folks make behavioral changes which support and protect our natural spaces and wildlife.  Amanda has enthusiastically participated in the Wild Arts Festival and looks forward to Birdathon each year, when her team bonds in their shared love of nature. 

“I look forward to helping support Bird Alliance of Oregon as we work together to spread our wings and remove barriers to allow more people to connect with nature.”

Mark Greenfield

COMMITTEES: Development Committee Chair, Volunteer Program Committee

A former Board President, Mark rejoined the Board in 2015 after a 24 year absence, bringing historical perspective and his skills as a retired land use lawyer. Mark has volunteered for the Birdathon and Wild Arts Festival almost annually for about 40 years. He is Chair of the Development Committee and has hosted the Legacy Circle gathering at his Sauvie Island home on a biannual basis for about a decade. Mark also serves on the Volunteer Program Committee, and as a trustee for The Nature Conservancy, he serves on both their Executive Committee and their Philanthropy and Outreach Committee. “The Bird Alliance of Oregon community is like family to me. I truly enjoy the company of people who care so much about native birds, other wildlife and their habitats.”

Vicente Harrison

Vicente S. Harrison serves as the Emergency Manager for the City of Portland Parks & Recreation and the bureaus first ever full-time African American Park Ranger. While at Portland Parks Vicente was nominated and received “Everyday Heroes – KATU News” in addition to a Unit Commendation from Portland Police for his emergency management and public safety efforts.

Vicente has also worked as Sales and Operations Manager for Coast Industries doing business as Empire Security and Coast Janitorial established in 1957 was one of Oregon’s oldest African American businesses. Before joining Coast, Vicente served as Case Management Coordinator for the Vancouver, Washington School District #37 Impacting Kids First Program providing comprehensive prevention based services for over 500 youth in SW Washington where he was nominated as a “Hero” of Vancouver Schools 2001. Vicente is a graduate of William Jennings Bryan High School in Omaha, Nebraska. He received his bachelor’s degree in the field of IS-Psychology from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon.

Inspired by a leadership class and family, Vicente wrote and published a children’s book called “My Nature Exploration,” to encourage all children, but even more children of color to get outdoors. Vicente is also a former student athlete and basketball coach but loves to spend as much free time as possible birding and hiking with his family in tow.

Vicente resides in Portland with his wife, Rachel, son Vicente Harrison II and daughter Harper Adele Grace Harrison.

Roberta Jortner

Roberta brings more than 35 years of professional natural resource planning experience, and related project management and community engagement expertise.  During her 25 years with the City of Portland, Roberta’s worked on complex, collaborative, and controversial projects including regional water supply and conservation plans, updating the City’s natural resource inventory, creating a new citywide tree code, strengthening regulatory protections for fish and wildlife habitat and the urban forest, promoting bird-safe building design, and elevating the role of nature and green infrastructure in City policies and plans to address climate change, equity and environmental justice, and community health, livability, and resilience. She has been inspired to continue working on some of these efforts as a volunteer since retiring in 2016. 

Roberta also brings first-hand experience with many Bird Alliance of Oregon programs. She has assisted with Raptor Road Trips, and with husband Karl, enjoyed Bird Alliance of Oregon trips to Cuba and Baja California. Roberta has served as a Wildlife Care Center “Wildlife Solutions Counselor” since 2017, advising the public, helping with volunteer training, and adorning the WCC white board with colorful drawings of birds cared for there. She also assisted at the Nature Store, co-led a “sing-along” at our Solar Eclipse fundraiser at Oak Haven, and completed her first Birdathon.  Roberta was appointed to the Conservation Committee in summer 2019. Roberta loves hiking, rafting, birding, making music and art, cooking, gardening, traveling, and time with family and friends, including their 2 indoor (w/catio) cats!

“As a Bird Alliance of Oregon board member, I look forward to supporting this extraordinary organization as it takes on the opportunities and challenges of our times, and journeys toward a bright future.”

Audrey Leonard

COMMITTEE: Conservation Committee

Audrey Leonard (she/her) is a staff attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper, where she works to fight new and expanded fossil fuel infrastructure for a liveable climate. Her work as an environmental lawyer is dedicated to advancing a just transition and centering those most affected by the climate crisis.

Audrey was raised in rural Indiana, and came to the Pacific Northwest to attend Lewis & Clark Law School, where she worked for Earthrise Law Center and was a student board member for the Northwest Environmental Defense Center. Her introduction to birding was through Birdhers, where she has fallen in love with the close-knit, supportive community and birding spots within the Portland metro area.

Judith Ramaley

COMMITTEES: Executive Committee, Board Affairs Committee, Education Committee

Dr. Judith A. Ramaley served as President of Portland State University and Professor of Biology from 1990-1997. She is now President Emerita and Distinguished Professor of Public Service at Portland State University in the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government 2005. She currently serves as a member of the Portland State University Board of Trustees. Dr. Ramaley was President of The University of Vermont (UVM) and Professor of Biology from 1997 to 2001. From From 2001-2004, she was Assistant Director of the Education and Human Resources Directorate (EHR) at The National Science Foundation (NSF). During her NSF service, she held a presidential professorship in biomedical sciences at the University of Maine and was a Fellow of the Margaret Chase Smith Center for Public Policy. She served as a Visiting Senior Scientist at the National Academy of Sciences in 2004. In 2005-2012, she served as President of Winona State University (WSU) in Minnesota and Professor of Biology.

Dr. Ramaley holds an appointment as a Senior Scholar with the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) and has served as a consultant for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). She is a member and former Chair of the Board of Second Nature, an organization committed to creating a healthy, just, and sustainable society through the transformation of higher education.

Elizabeth Semler

Elizabeth Semler is the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Inc. In this role, Elizabeth provides advice and guidance to the company and works to identify and avoid risks so Bob’s Red Mill can focus on inspiring joy with wholesome foods. Prior to joining Bob’s Red Mill, Elizabeth was a partner at Sussman Shank, LLP where she assisted clients with a broad range of business and employment matters. Elizabeth’s employment practice included representing employers in court and before administrative agencies and providing advice, training and counsel to employers on a wide range of employment-related topics. Elizabeth also represented parties in business disputes in federal and state courts and in arbitration, including disputes arising from contracts, restrictions on competition, franchises, intra-corporate relationships, and lender liability.

Elizabeth loves the outdoors and especially loves spending time in nature on Raquette Lake in Adirondacks

Allan Solares

For six years, Allan has been an active and influential volunteer at Bird Alliance of Oregon. He has served as the coordinator of the volunteer admissions team at the annual Wild Arts Festival, and has served actively on the board’s Sanctuaries and Facilities Committee, focusing on implementing pedestrian safety initiatives for the Cornell campus, working on the design team for Marmot Cabin, and now serving on the design team for a major renovation of our Wildlife Care Center. Allan has a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of California at Berkeley and worked for the California legislature on budget and policies for environmental programs in the Legislative Analyst’s Office. Upon moving to Portland, he worked in the DEQ Superfund program as a senior policy analyst.

Tammy Spencer

COMMITTEES: Wildlife Care Special Committee, Communications and Marketing Committee, Renaming Committee

Tammy Spencer has extensive senior management experience in marketing and communications in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. She is a business strategist whose career has encompassed higher education, retail, and community services. Since early retirement, she has leveraged her professional skills to mentor and support younger professionals and has served on the Bird Alliance of Oregon Board of Directors.

Tammy’s father, Ron Spencer, introduced her to Bird Alliance of Oregon, his love of birds, and his passion for the outdoors. Tammy served nine years on the board, completed a one-year hiatus, and rejoined the board in 2023. Her experience as a longtime board member adds valuable historical context to the board’s diverse perspectives.

Tammy Co-Chaired the Wildlife Care Center Special Committee, and in her role as the Communications and Marketing Committee Chair contributed to the successful rebranding of Bird Alliance of Oregon. She currently serves on the new Wildlife Care Special Committee, the Communications and Marketing Committee, and the Renaming Committee.

Tammy and her husband Richard O’Connor love their Basset Hounds Red Ruby and Black Jasper and enjoy local and international travel. They especially treasure time outdoors hiking, birding, and exploring nature.

Bob Sternberg

COMMITTEES: Finance Committee Chair, PA Executive Committee, and Investment Committee

Robert “Bob” Sternberg is a veteran corporate executive with more than 40 years of senior management experience in the telecommunications, software and healthcare industries. He has served as Chairman, CEO, COO, and CFO of various companies throughout his career, during which he has led finance, accounting, human resources, and administrative activities. In addition, Bob has over 25 years of board and advisory service to nonprofit organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest that work in social services, health care and entrepreneurship. Bob is currently Treasurer of Bird Alliance of Oregon (“PA”) and Chair of its Finance Committee. He is also a member of the PA Executive Committee and a member of the Investment Committee.

“I have great respect for PA’s conservation and education efforts and enjoy working to further PA’s endeavors in these areas.”

Recommending Board Members

Each year in March, our Board elects its new Directors from a slate of candidates. Directors are limited to serving two consecutive, 3-year terms, with committee chairs allowed to extend service for additional 1-year terms. The Board Affairs Committee welcomes recommendations for candidates. Here is the Board Member position description.

Additionally, members may directly nominate a candidate by submitting a petition signed by 10 or more members to the Board Affairs Committee by no later than January 15th. Candidates nominated by petition will automatically be placed on the election ballot. Please note: qualified candidates must be current Bird Alliance of Oregon members. Petitions may be sent in care of our Executive Director, Stuart Wells, by mail or email (sawells@birdallianceoregon.org)

For more background on our elections and bylaws, please see the March 2019 issue of the Warbler. Thank you.