Over the last decade, Melissa has helped shape the direction of the Washington Farmland Trust’s conservation, stewardship and conservation finance initiatives. Today, as Executive Director, she leads the Trust’s staff and board, as well as its impact investment work. Prior to her work at the Trust, Melissa worked on conservation and natural resource initiatives spanning the natural areas of the Midwest to the farms and forestlands along the West Coast. Melissa holds a B.S. from the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University and a Master’s degree where she studied the connections between our local communities and working landscapes. When not at work, Melissa enjoys being outside and exploring our natural world and communities, with her family.
Favorite vegetable: Ohio sweet corn
Conservation & Stewardship Director
Hilary joined Washington Farmland Trust in 2011, working on many facets of our farmland conservation program, including real estate transactions, conservation planning, and management of public grants for acquisitions. Hilary has been involved in land conservation and watershed protection since 2004, working with a range of local, county, federal, and international conservation initiatives. Prior to her work at the Trust, Hilary focused on coordination of community-based conservation programs, including watershed restoration projects, natural resource management, and planning (operational and financial) for long-term management of protected conservation lands. Hilary holds a B.A. in Political Science, and a MPA from the University of Texas-Austin.
Favorite vegetable: Green beans
Gina is deeply invested in protecting the environment and preserving the sense of place where she grew up. That commitment, paired with a passion for healthy seasonal foods, led her to Washington Farmland Trust. Gina joined the Trust in 2015, bringing experience in marketing, print and digital advertising, public relations, and event coordination to support the Trust’s fundraising efforts. Gina leads corporate and foundation giving for the Trust, creating meaningful, enduring partnerships with value-aligned businesses, family foundations, and governmental agencies. Gina aspires to build lasting relationships with those who share in the Trust’s vision of a vibrant future for farming in Washington.
Favorite vegetable: Arugula
Community Partnerships Director
Megan joined Washington Farmland Trust in 2015, bringing nearly a decade of experience in community engagement, advocacy, and coalition-building with her. In her role, Megan leads the Trust’s Community Engagement and Farm to Farmer programs. Before coming to the Trust, Megan was a community organizer working on a range of environmental issues, including reducing climate pollution. She graduated from Dickinson College with a BA in English. When she’s not at her desk or out talking with people about the Trust’s work, you can usually find Megan with her nose in a good book, trying out a new recipe using local produce, or adventuring.
Favorite vegetable: Garlic
Molly joined Washington Farmland Trust’s communications team in 2016. As Communications Director, Molly leads the development and implementation of a comprehensive communications strategy that aims to engage key audiences, raise organizational visibility, and increase public support for local farms. Working closely with all program teams, Molly works to synthesize complex stories and data into meaningful and accessible messaging. Prior to joining the Trust, Molly spent four years at a strategic communications firm helping to elevate the work of nonprofits. Molly graduated from the University of Washington with degrees in Communications and Interdisciplinary Visual Art. When not writing copy or conducting photoshoots on the farm, you can find Molly drinking coffee, picking flowers from the side of the road, or devouring her cookbook collection.
Favorite vegetable: Red Kuri Squash
Senior Stewardship Manager
Rusty joined Washington Farmland Trust in 2016 where he works to ensure the agricultural and environmental values of the land we conserve remain protected forever. Rusty comes to the Trust from Salt Lake City, UT where he served as the Stewardship Director at Utah Open Lands, a statewide land trust. His interest in conservation began at an early age, after spending his childhood in the caretaker’s residence of a nature preserve in Southern Maine. Upon graduating from Bates College in Lewiston, ME, Rusty has focused much of his efforts on conserving our limited resources and encouraging others to explore the natural world. When he isn’t busy meeting with farmers, planning restoration projects, or interpreting easement language, Rusty enjoys exploring the mountains and coastline by foot, bike, and ski.
Favorite vegetable: Carrots
Senior Conservation Manager
Robin Fay grew up on his parents’ organic berry farm in the San Juan Islands, where he learned about farming first hand. He received a degree in Environmental Policy from the University of Puget Sound, and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington. Robin has diverse work experience, including working in bike shops and as an EMT. Robin brings a background in land use planning and farmland conservation policy to his role as Conservation Manager, working with the rest of the conservation team to cultivate relationships with farmers, complete conservation transactions and easement purchases, and protect valuable farmland around the region. Outside of work, Robin loves spending time outdoors and eating good food with his family and friends.
Favorite vegetable: Peas
Nate brings close to two decades of experience in food, farming, and farmland preservation to his role as Conservation Manager. Nate and his wife own and manage Oyster Bay Farm, a 40 acre organic diversified livestock and crop farm on the shores of Puget Sound in Olympia, WA. They started farming in 2002 as caretakers on the farm, and, ultimately, they became owners in 2018 after successfully completing an agricultural conservation easement. Prior to joining WFT, Nate worked with Washington State Department of Agriculture’s organic certification program and as Farm Policy Director at the Organic Trade Association. He holds a bachelors of science in organic chemistry and agricultural science from The Evergreen State College.
When not pursuing his passion of farmland preservation, Nate can be found working on his own farm, floating his drift boat down local rivers in pursuit of salmon and steelhead, or foraging for mushrooms in our region’s forests.
Favorite vegetable: Snap peas
Tim joined Washington Farmland Trust in 2019, driven by his desire to build systems that help people and their environments flourish. Bringing nearly a decade of non-profit administration experience to his role as Operations Manager, Tim keeps the trains running at the Trust by providing direct support to the Executive Director and Board, and assisting staff with human resource management, office administration, and fundraising tasks. Tim received his MA in Counseling Psychology from the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology and is a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) in Washington State. Tim enjoys the ups and downs of life with his wife and two kids, guitar-oriented music, and useful bicycles.
Favorite vegetable: Broccoli
Farm to Farmer & Working Farmland Partnership Coordinator
Lily is a vegetable farmer and landowner in Enumclaw, Washington who has served on all sides of the land access spectrum – searching, buying, leasing, and now matching farmers and landowners. Lily studied organic farming at a local farm incubator program, learning side-by-side with an international cohort of talented farmers. Lily’s passion for sharing resources and working within a community of farmers led her to start her own farm business, Shared Soil. Shared Soil addresses issues of land access by renting farmland to beginner, immigrant, and socially disadvantaged farmers. While running Shared Soil, Lily worked for a community organization in South King County where she coordinated food access initiatives and organized a community farmers market with non-traditional farmers. After serving as an advocate and organizer for beginner and immigrant farmers in her community for several years, Lily is thrilled to formalize her land access and matching work through her role at Washington Farmland Trust. Lily serves as King County coordinator for Washington Farmland Trust’s Farm to Farmer program as well as the Working Farmland Partnership. Lily’s greatest sense of accomplishment comes from helping farmers navigate barriers to land access and realizing their farm visions.
Favorite vegetable: Beet
As a founding shareholder of Kantor Taylor, Mark represents for-profit, nonprofit, and public entities in all aspects of the financing, planning, and development of affordable housing and economic development projects. Mark has been a national leader in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit industry for two-decades and, in addition to facilitating hundreds of transactions, has led numerous policy advocacy efforts in support of affordable housing.
Sandy has a long history of supporting and working for environmental and social causes in the Northwest. Her career has ranged from urban planning & community organizing to psychology, teaching and organizational consulting. Most recently she was the Executive Director of the Lopez Community Land Trust and then the Technical Assistance Manager for Community Frameworks, a four-state non-profit intermediary in the affordable housing field. Feathers in Sandy’s cap include founding Seattle’s Homesharing for Seniors Program, being a leading founder of the Burke-Gilman Trail, and developing the nation’s first USDA-approved mobile meat processing unit. A PCC member for over 35 years, and now retired, Sandy wishes to actively participate in the preservation of precious farmlands and the provision of opportunities and support for new organic farmers in the Northwest.
Treasurer & Secretary
Sylvia See spends her days in an office tower but her heart is in the dirt. As an avid gardener and animal lover, she has taken a great interest in the local farming movement and sustainable agriculture. This interest includes workshops at Quillisascut Farm in Eastern Washington which serve to bring back things learned from her grandparents about the impact we have on nature and how we can kindly give and receive from the soil and water. Sylvia’s passion for land and farming draws her to the work of Washington Farmland Trust, where she hopes to be able to offer experience from the world of finance and business management. Sylvia is the Senior Business Officer at Salal Credit Union.
Beth Mondzac is an ardent supporter of organic farming and long-term participant in community supported agriculture and land conservancy. Beth believes in preservation of local organic farmland for future generations. She has lived in Seattle for over twenty years and has had a career in engineering management consulting that utilized both her undergraduate degree in engineering and her MBA.
Joan Caine, founder and principal of Sirius Advice, has extensive nonprofit management and fundraising experience. Since establishing Sirius Advice in 2002, she has worked with 70 nonprofits in the greater Seattle area in the fields of human services, conservation and the environment, education, and arts and culture. Joan has a specialty in capital and other large-scale campaigns, and has supported more than 35 multi-million-dollar campaigns with feasibility, planning, and implementation counsel. Joan also works with clients to refine and strengthen messaging in support of successful fundraising. She has experience working with organizations aiming to build capacity and infrastructure, and provides training and coaching to staff and volunteers. Joan began working with Washington Farmland Trust on their $26-million-dollar Our Farms, Our Future campaign in 2016 and fell in love with their work. She lives in Lake Forest Park with her husband, Andre, where she tends to the garden of her dreams.
With more than 25 years of experience as a professional communicator, Liz Gorman has spent the past two decades solely focused on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability strategy and communications, a specialty that began while leading community affairs at Eddie Bauer, Inc. As a consultant for Cone Communications and Edelman, Liz provided strategic counsel to companies such as Starbucks, REI, CVS Health, Nike, and PCC Community Markets, among many others. In 2019, Liz co-founded Gorman Coale, LLC where she leads sustainability strategy, stakeholder engagement, and communications for a range of Fortune 250 clients. Liz graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Political Science and earned her Master’s in Communications from the University of Minnesota.
Pamela’s career started in the late 1970’s when she discovered her true passion for the food and beverage industry while creating a farmer’s market for Americorps. That experience led her to change career paths from psychology to marketing, and in 1997, Hinckley became Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Redhook Brewery in Woodinville, Washington. Her 15 years there helped to hone her executive leadership skills and in 2002, Hinckley moved on to establish her own marketing consulting company. One of her greatest success stories was managing the launch of award-winning brand Theo Chocolate, which was ultimately included in Seattle Magazine’s “Best in Seattle” list in 2006. Hinckley’s reputation grew as a visionary in the Seattle food scene, so it came as no surprise when her long-time friend and Seattle restaurateur, Tom Douglas, approached her to join his team in 2009 as CEO/CVO (Chief Vegetable Officer).
Of the many rewarding experiences while at the restaurant company, Pamela considers these most memorable: setting up Made from Scratch cooking classes for kids, helping Tom’s wife Jackie coordinate visits to the company farm, working with Seattle Public Schools on improving school lunch, instituting Meatless Monday for staff meals, building a coconut cream pie float for the Gay Pride parade and raising tons of money for Food Lifeline with an annual croquet tournament.
Her husband, Michael Teer owns the fabulous wineshop, Pike and Western, so they enjoy tasting wine from around the world with vegetable forward meals at their home in Ballard.
Rachel has a background in finance and operations, currently working as the COO/CFO at Firefly Kitchens. She is passionate about the preservation of farmland and is excited to use her skills to support the important work of Washington Farmland Trust. She grew up in Central Pennsylvania with family who were farmers, acutely aware the benefits realized through good relationship with the land. She cultivates that connection at her p-patch plot, growing lots of brassicas as well as flowers for the bees. She lives in Capitol Hill with her husband Antonio and 2 cats.
Steve Jones is a wheat breeder at the Washington State University – Mount Vernon Research Center. Steve has a PhD in Genetics from the University of California at Davis and teaches graduate courses in advanced classical genetics and in the history and ethics of genetics. His first wheat crop was on five acres at Chico State University’s student farm in 1977. Together with his graduate students, he breeds wheat and other grains for local uses to be grown on small farms in the coastal west and the upper Northeast. He also runs the Bread Lab, a combination think tank/baking laboratory where they experiment with improved flavor, nutrition, and functionality of regional and obscure wheats. Steve grew up in the Bay Area and witnessed farmland loss first hand.
Hannah Kettler believes in the power of public-private coalitions to drive sustainable, social, and economic impact. A Ph.D. economist by training, Hannah has spent over 15 years at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation designing and executing innovative financing, policy, and partnership vehicles to mobilize corporate investment in global health. She is excited to apply these insights and experiences toward the advancement of Washington Farmland Trust’s mission of conserving and stewarding farmland. Hannah spends as much time as she can outside – biking to work, hiking, skiing, and running the beautiful trails and mountains that Washington has to offer.
Gary was born and raised in South Africa. After graduating from agricultural school in KwaZulu Natal, he moved to Seattle where he joined Costco Wholesale. During his first few years with the company, Gary held various positions in logistics, operations, and merchandising. In 1994, he was tasked with introducing and managing the newly created in-house Kirkland Signature brand. Four years later, Gary moved to Tokyo to facilitate Costco’s entry into the Japanese market, returning to Seattle to become the VP of Corporate Food and Sundries. Gary and his team spent the next decade building value chains and production capacity to support the company’s global expansion and increasing consumer demand for Kirkland Signature products. In 2011, Gary was promoted to Corporate VP Global Sourcing to lead the company’s sustainability initiatives. He retired from Costco in 2017. Gary is a founding member and sits on the advisory board of the Master of Supply Chain Management program at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.
Jared has worked as part of the Merchandising and Procurement team at PCC Community Markets for the past 12 years. Originally from the east side of the Cascades, Jared has lived in Seattle for more than 20 years and currently resides in West Seattle. Working at PCC and meeting some amazing people opened his eyes to finding ways to be an active part of the community he wants to live in, including being a long-time volunteer with the Farmland Trust. When he thinks about the most enjoyable ways to spend his time, all of them seem connected to the health of our environment and food system. Jared enjoys cooking for his friends and family and spending time on or around water. For Jared, farmland preservation is one way to contribute to a much bigger picture.
Twenty eight years ago, Joanie started her own marketing firm as a way to have fun while working with great clients who share her commitment to making the world a better place. Today, PARSONS + CO specializes in building and guiding lifestyle brands, with an emphasis on companies who promote sustainability, regenerative agriculture, environmental responsibility, and women in leadership. Joanie has worked with local, regional, and national companies such as Filson, Montinore Estates, Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, and more. In 2017, Joanie co-created Grapevine and CRUSH, two powerful communities that bring women of all ages together to share insights and inspiration through monthly events. Joanie serves on several nonprofit boards including the One Eighty Foundation, TRIBUTE – an online mentoring platform – and now, Washington Farmland Trust. An avid hiker, cyclist, and cross-country skier, Joanie lives in Seattle with her partner and her two golden retrievers who still come to work with her everyday.
Kate Rogers is editor in chief of Mountaineers Books, an independent and nonprofit publisher of outdoor recreation, adventure, and conservation titles. Her interest in food and agricultural issues stems from their Skipstone imprint, which focuses on urban-based sustainable living topics. Kate’s publishing career has spanned thirty years, including positions at Waldenbooks, Bantam Doubleday Dell, and Sasquatch Books, and as founder–principal of a book packaging firm. She has served on the board of the Washington Trails Association and the Trust’s strategic planning committee, and has been a part-time lecturer on publishing and media at the University of Washington and Seattle Community Colleges.
Rick VanderKnyff has been on the board of Washington Farmland Trust since 2008, and has served as chairperson of the strategic planning and board development committees. An assigning editor at NerdWallet.com, he has worked previously at Microsoft, the Los Angeles Times and the University of California. He has served as a volunteer for numerous conservation groups and causes, and lives within a short cycle of one of the Trust’s focus areas (the Snoqualmie River Valley).
Kate is the Divisional Vice President of Strategy at REI, the largest consumer cooperative in the US. At REI, Kate drives the company’s long-term vision and growth strategy, strategic planning, market insights, and new business development. Prior to REI, Kate was one of the youngest female Senior Equity Research Analysts on Wall Street, where she worked at Wells Fargo Securities covering the healthy lifestyles and grocery sector, and was recognized as a Rising Star in the Institutional Investor Poll. She also worked at ICR, Inc., an investor relations firm, where she collaborated with senior management teams in the consumer and retail sector to evolve their corporate strategy and best position their current initiatives and long-term goals to external and internal constituents. Kate graduated with honors from Stanford University, and is an avid trail runner, hiker, mother, cook, and lover of local food.