Who We Are

The Conservancy works with our community to identify and protect special places throughout the region. We protect private lands through legal agreements with landowners. We also work to improve lands under our management for habitat, clean water and air, and native plants. In recent years, the Conservancy has partnered with other agencies and community organizations to protect land for public enjoyment. Check out our projects under Where We Work and join us in protecting this beautiful area for years to come!

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Our Values

Love of Nature
Our work is driven by a deep love of the natural world and its processes.

Perpetuity
We steward lands and resources so that our work outlives us.

Discernment
We make strategic choices based in science to maximize our enduring conservation impact.

Collaboration
We build relationships that deliver results.

The Team

Dave Schaub

Executive Director

Dave was introduced to the Conservancy as a board member of the Dishman Hills Conservancy and became Executive Director in 2017. Born and raised in Spokane, Daves stays connected to the area because of its diverse habitats and landscapes. His curiosity for exploration was sparked here in the Inland Northwest where, as a child, he frequented his neighborhood pond, mucking about – collecting frogs, fish, and leeches (some unintentionally). He loves being able to head out in any direction, always finding new and interesting places–places to poke around and get lost in.  

When asked what draws him to the Conservancy’s work, Dave says, “We are clever monkeys living on a remarkable planet. I love using my brain and opposable thumbs to (as Janine Benyus says) help create conditions conducive to life. I am drawn to working with other clever monkeys to do the same.” 

A proud father of two children, Dave and his wife Heidi love exploring the Inland Northwest by foot, bike, skis, or boat, enjoying each season for all it has to offer. When he’s not exploring the great outdoors, Dave enjoys cooking up new recipes and sharing them with his family.

Vicki Egesdal

Associate Director

Vicki grew up in Upstate New York, where her love of nature sprouted as she explored curious creatures in her backyard creek, particularly the squishy, slimy tab poles. Having moved west at a young age, spending some time in Southern California, Vicki now lives in Spokane with her husband. The meandering rivers, riparian plants, and diverse songbirds connect Vicki to the Inland Northwest landscape. She is particularly fond of the song sparrow that has found a home outside her living room window. When she’s not outside or cheering on the Zags, you can find Vicki getting crafty with knitting and weaving.  

Chris Deforest hired Vicki in 2001 when the Conservancy went by Inland Northwest Land Trust. When asked what motivates Vicki to continue her work at the Conservancy, she says “It is critical that we protect our natural and open spaces – for wildlife, for the future. It’s just the right thing to do.” 

If Vicki could be a tree, she’d choose to be a big, old Spruce with wide, low hanging branches that protect quail. She’d have airy branches in the middle that serve as an apartment for nesting birds, and a tall leader branch for flycatchers and songbirds to use as their perch. 

Chris DeForest

Senior Conservationist

A Seattle native, Chris often traveled east to the Inland Northwest to spend much-needed time in nature at his family’s cabin on Lake Pend Oreille. Bird watching at the cabin, family camping trips, and 50-mile hikes as a Boy Scout birthed his lifelong love of nature.  

In June 1997, Chris became the conservancy’s first staff member, serving as the first Executive Director and then moving into his current role as Senior Conservationist in 2014. At the Conservancy office, you may hear Chris before you see him, whistling and belting out campfire songs as he bustles around the Community Building. 

After almost three decades and 125 conservation deals, Chris is still motivated to save the best of the Inland Northwest and nurture conservation-minded landowners to “give their land a seat at the table” and ensure its permanent protection.  

Chris still spends time at his great-grandfather Henry Hart’s log cabin with his wife and two sons. They enjoy cross-country skiing on Mt. Spokane, the South Perry Farmers Market, and time with family members on the East and West Coasts. 

Rose Richardson

Stewardship Director

Born and raised in Spokane (with a short stint in Ashville, NC), Rose inherited her love of nature. When she was just old enough to walk, Rose and her family would visit Bent Creek in the hills outside of Asheville for their weekly “Long Explore”.  

“The trail (which I’ve learned in my adulthood is actually quite short) leads along Bent Creek to a small lake. This “Explore” would take us all day because we moved slowly: flipping over rocks looking for salamanders, watching caterpillars scuttle down the trail…The sense of discovery is what made me a nature lover. There’s always something new to see if you look closely enough.” 

With her dad serving as the first volunteer board president, Rose was introduced to the Conservancy at a young age. Having previously worked for another Washington state land trust, in 2019 Rose jumped on the opportunity to come back to Spokane and explore her homelands as a Stewardship Specialist with the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy. 

What continues to connect Rose to the Inland Northwest? Nostalgia. She grew up here and while a lot has changed, many things have not. From the young Ponderosa saplings around what used to be her school, the river she grew up next to, or the scenic drive to Pend Oreille County, she is constantly swept back to her childhood. 

As she grew up, she turned to nature as a place to learn about herself “And so I see it as my purpose in life to nurture those things now that I have the strength, skills, and knowledge to give that love back fully.”  

Carol Corbin

Philanthropy & Communications Director

After growing up in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, at the foot of the Blue Mountains and less than a mile from the Appalachian trail, Carol has a tough time pinpointing where her love of nature began. With so many memorable moments she recalls her first time eating something she found in the woods (well her first time eating something edible from the woods) …it was a sassafras seedling, whose bark tasted sweet and minty. In this moment she felt connected to nature, an early glimpse into how people rely on the land. 

Carol joined the conservancy in February 2020, after moving west and spending 12 years living and working in Spokane. The Conservancy’s mission hits close to home as almost all of Carol’s favorite memories are doing something outside with her son. From their first hike in the Dishman Hills Natural Area when he was one month old, to their first bikepacking trip on the Palouse to Cascades Trail, to weeks spent camping at Heyburn State Park. Their best stories have been written outside and the land and water here are critical to those stories.  

What motivates Carol to work for this cause? “Hope. That tomorrow’s world can be better than todays. That our home isn’t destined for destruction. That in the future, maybe the world can find ways to work in harmony. Right now, we [the Conservancy] protect places in which that can happen. Great places are where great stories get written.” 

Todd Dunfield

Public Lands Protection Specialist

With his father in the military, Todd grew up all over the world. Having moved 22 times, living in Texas, Maryland, and three bases in Germany, Todd is the Conservancy’s local army brat…yes, that’s a real term!

His love of nature stems from his time abroad where his family was keen on adventure. From car camping, to German “volksmarches”, to living in a camper van, Todd became accustomed to “Washington type weather” while exploring and living in Europe. 

Todd joined the Conservancy’s team in 2018. His greatest motivation comes from reflecting on how he has personally benefited from generations of conservation efforts that came before him. He hopes to conserve the special places that remain here in the Inland Northwest. He understands the true value of nature in his day to day life as in the past, he has lived in areas that are devoid of parks and public lands. 

Todd is a big trail enthusiast. He can often be found hiking, biking, or leading trail maintenance work parties in the greater Spokane area. Todd’s level of activity runs in the family! If you don’t see Todd on the river or the trails, you can find him cheering on his three sons at their various football, soccer, and basketball games. 

Michael Crabtree

Conservation Director

Born in Madison, Wisconsin and raised in Oregon, Mike grew up skiing, camping, and playing sports. Now living in Coeur d’Alene, ID with his wife, kids, and their covid pup, Jackson, Mike loves the beauty and diversity found in the Inland Northwest. “The mountains, lakes, and rivers offer endless possibilities to connect with nature. As a parent, I especially love the opportunities for my children to enjoy the outdoors year-round.” 

Joining the conservancy’s team in 2021, Mike is passionate about future generations enjoying wide open spaces, outdoor recreation, and renewable resources as much as he has benefited from them in his own life. He can think of no better use of his time and energy than protecting clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat, and open spaces for the future.  

“I’d like to see a world in which people have a greater appreciation for and connection to the outdoors and natural surroundings. Undeveloped land is precious.” He points out that once it’s gone, it’s gone forever so this work is immediate and important. 

Steven Eddington

Preserve Manager

A native of Bothell, Washington, Steven Eddington joins the Conservancy as Stewardship Assistant because of a lifelong love affair with nature that began on the banks of North Creek. Exploring the creek and getting to know all the plants, animals, and bugs that lived there taught Steven that he wanted to protect places like the Creek so others could fall in love with nature too.

An avid gardener, Steven spends most of his time cultivating 25 different species of fruits and vegetables in only 900 square feet, yielding food for him—and friends and family—for most of the year.

Steven looks forward to working with the Conservancy team to care for protected lands and waters far into the future. 

Gillian Rowe

Philanthropy & Communications Assistant

Gillian is a native of Barrington, IL, and joins the Conservancy team from an AmeriCorps position in Bozeman, MT. Boating on Lake Michigan and playing in her suburban backyard helped Gillian learn to appreciate nature and the outdoors, regardless of the scale. Being far away from her midwest friends and family, Gillian says, is the biggest adjustment in moving to the Inland Northwest but she is excited to discover what the area has to offer and to share it with those closest to her as they are able to come visit. If she had 24 hours and $10,000, she would plan a trip to Ireland to celebrate the life of her Irish Grandma Rowe, who was born on St. Patrick’s Day.

In her free time, Gillian might be found practicing the ukulele, repurposing thrifted jewelry, practicing Spanish with Duolingo, or reading in her hammock. She enjoys hiking, camping, and paddle boarding. She is eager to connect diverse groups in the Inland Northwest with our natural spaces and help to organize a variety of events that offer a taste of the outdoors for everyone.

Leyna Bernstein - President

Leadership Coach & Consultant, Leyna Bernstein Consulting 

After a dynamic career as a non-profit consultant and advocate for conservation, Leyna chose to retire to Spokane because of the abundance of open space and access to beautiful outdoor places. After watching her childhood home of Laguna Beach, CA give way to development, Leyna is passionate about preserving the best of the Inland Northwest for generations to come. In addition to the board of Inland Northwest Land Conservancy, she works with Friends of Manito, the Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant and Dining for Women.

Toni Pessemier - Vice President

American Indian Relations Advisor, Avista Utilities

In both Toni’s personal and professional experiences, she has been exposed to preservation projects and organizations that have taken the initiative to protect our waters and lands for future generations.  As Avista Corporation’s American Indian Relations Advisor, she has been honored to learn from and work with regional Tribes as they work conscientiously to protect these important natural and cultural resources.  Growing up in Bend, Oregon and living in the Pacific Northwest, she relishes her time in nature-whether it be hiking, backpacking, biking, camping, skiing, kayaking or experiencing a new activity with family and friends.

Brian Behler - Treasurer

Chief Executive Officer, Skils’kin

Skils’kin is a Spokane based non-profit whose mission is “to enrich the quality of life for adults with disabilities.” Growing up in Clarkston, WA afforded Brian access to the Snake River and all of the open space around the area. He is a proud graduate of Washington State University and was a CPA by profession. Prior to joining Skils’kin in 2011, he was the managing partner of the Spokane public ac counting firm of BehlerMick. Brian is driven to protect the open spaces that were so important to him growing up. He says he is dedicated to ensure his grandkids have the opportunity to enjoy nature that is close to home just as he did.

Sally Pritchard - Secretary

Retired Non-profit Leader

Sally Pritchard retired in 2020 after a career of working for local nonprofits, most recently as the Vice President of Community Impact for Spokane County United Way.  Sally has extensive nonprofit board experience, and a deep commitment to preserving the regional ecosystem.  “As a long time member of the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy, I am impressed with its strategic vision, commitment to partnerships, and increasing impact.”  Sally enjoys running, hiking, swimming, and backpacking in the Inland Northwest, and aspires to get better at bird and plant identification.

Lindsay Chutas

Environmental Scientist, Morrison-Maierle

Lindsay brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our board of directors, particularly regarding one of our highest priorities: protecting invaluable water resources. A graduate of the University of Washington (B.S., Geology) and Duke University (M.S., Earth and Ocean Sciences), and the former Riparian Program Leader for the Spokane Conservation District, Lindsay is an Environmental Scientist for Morrison-Mairele, a consulting firm in Spokane, where she specializes in water quality and habitat improvement projects.

Julie Johnson

Teacher (Retired), Community Volunteer

Julie grew up in Southern California in a community that actively cared for open spaces.  The Laguna Beach Greenbelt was established as a buffer zone while she attended High School.  She participated in efforts to enjoy and care for the environment which included beach trash collecting and taking very short showers.  While in college she spent her summers as a camp counselor leading groups of campers into the mountains of Northern California.  She obtained her Multiple Subject teaching credential after college and has taught and volunteered in schools while raising three sons with her husband, Russ.

Debra Schultz

Retired Educator, Community Volunteer

One of Debra’s greatest joys has been watching the Conservancy grow and mature since those beginning days where a small group of conservation minded folks sat around our kitchen table and dreamed of the organization that the Conservancy has become. She is excited to work with a board and staff that are so competent and forward thinking about preservation of our local land and water environments. Debra offers a variety of skills to Inland Northwest Land Conservancy; soil science, environmental constraint planning, educator, business owner and most important an active participant in our Spokane Community.

Dave Sonntag

Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communications

Dave Sonntag leads marketing and communications at Gonzaga University and serves on the University’s Executive Leadership Team. Prior to that Dave worked at Eastern Washington University and two regional marketing and public relations firms. In his leisure time, Dave enjoys spending time with his family, and outdoor pursuits including mountain biking, fly fishing, paddle boarding, boating, skiing, hiking, and backpacking. 

Sandy Emerson

Real Estate Appraiser, Emerson Valuation 

Having been raised on the lakes and rivers of North Idaho and eastern Washington, Sandy has a strong affinity for the experiences that can be had on the natural lands in our part of this region. His family’s first home was in a post-WWII apartment at the base of Coeur d’Alene’s Tubbs Hill on the shore of the lake!

After serving in the US Army and working as manager of the Cd’A Area Chamber of Commerce, Sandy earned an Idaho general real estate appraisal designation, specializing in land and waterfront properties. Throughout his career, Sandy has had the opportunity to work with a number of agencies and organizations, including the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy.

Upon Sandy’s retirement, the opportunity to use his experience in serving on the this Board of Directors seems to be a perfectly natural progression in his commitment to land and wildlife habitat preservation and protection. His interest is not only in open spaces and wildlands but also in public recreation and trails. Sandy is honored to be associated with a proven effective organization with a purpose and goals he has long supported and worked for.

Ann Fennessy

Ann grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1974, she moved to Spokane and became a regular soloist in local musical organizations such as the Spokane Symphony, Connoisseur Concerts, and the Northwest Bach Festival.

Ann served on the Rockwood Neighborhood Council for several years, has been an on-air pledge drive guest for over 30 years on Spokane Public Radio, and now serves on the Spokane Symphony Endowment Board.

Kris Ryan

Kris is a location controller at Boise Cascade in Spokane. She is responsible for the accounting function at the branch, as well as involvement in many other facets of branch management.

Kris is a Gonzaga University graduate and a licensed CPA and enjoys the local outdoors with her family – particularly boating, camping, hiking, and snowshoeing.   

Tim Sweet

Tim retired in 2016 from a landscape design/build firm that he founded in 1983. He has served in board positions with the Associated General Contractors, the Lands Council, and the Unitarian church.

Tim is a member of Rotary Club 21 and is involved with the West Plains Water Coalition which is advocating for the residents impacted by PFOS contamination in the groundwater. He has a love for wild places, wherever they may be found. 

Jonathan Teeters

Jonathan serves as Policy Director for Empire Health Foundation and director of the Empire Health Community Advocacy Fund where he shapes policy programming and government affairs strategies to support power shifts and political and systems change within BIPOC, LGBTQ2IAS+ and underserved communities. He’s a board member of the University District Development Assn. and Hunters of Color.

Jonathan has an MBA in Sustainable Business Systems and degrees in conservation biology, natural resource ecology, and Spanish. 

Lindsay Chutas - Chair

Environmental Scientist, Morrison-Maierle

Lindsay brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our board of directors, particularly regarding one of our highest priorities: protecting invaluable water resources. A graduate of the University of Washington (B.S., Geology) and Duke University (M.S., Earth and Ocean Sciences), and the former Riparian Program Leader for the Spokane Conservation District, Lindsay is an Environmental Scientist for Morrison-Mairele, a consulting firm in Spokane, where she specializes in water quality and habitat improvement projects.

Tom Bradley

After a storied career in the National Park Service, Tom planted roots in Spokane due to the proximity to outdoor recreation spaces. Experienced in working extensively with land trusts throughout the United States, Tom is excited to continue his volunteer work on Inland Northwest Land Conservancy conservation projects.

Lisa Langelier

Retired wildlife refuge manager, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

Lisa’s area of expertise is wildlife habitat, land management,  and wild birds. She volunteers with INLC be cause she believes protecting land from development, offering opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors, and partnering with others – is critical to our region. As our area grows, INLC will play an increasingly important role. She says, “What INLC does is important, cool, and they fill an important niche in our region.”

Paul Knowles

Planning, Development & Real Estate Manager, Spokane County

INLC and Spokane County have partnered for decades on land conservation projects and in volunteering with INLC, Paul is continuing this long-standing tradition of partnership and collaboration.
He is most excited about the Conservancy’s work with Saltese Uplands addition, Rimrock to Riverside, and Waikiki Springs Nature Preserve. Says Paul of the Conservancy, “It’s a well-run, results-oriented organization that is directly benefitting our communities, lands, waters and wildlife.”

Rebecca Brown

Professor and Chair of Biology, Eastern Washington University

Becky’s area of expertise is plant, restoration, and riparian ecology. She says, “I have a career studying and teaching about the natural world.  It feels good to play a role in hands on conservation of the natural world.” As a neighbor to the area, she is excited about Rimrock to Riverside because of it’s potential to preserve a wildlife and recreational corridor into perpetuity. She loves how hard the community is willing to work for their park through volunteer cleanups and other activities.

Rebecca Stevens

Restoration Coordinator- Coeur d’Alene Tribe

Rebecca specializes in water quality protection, land stewardship, overseeing EPA’s clean-up/remedial efforts in the Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex Superfund Site (BHSS) in the Silver Valley of Idaho, restoring injured natural resources due to the historic release of hazardous substances, and furthering the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s interests in protecting Coeur d’Alene Lake, their aboriginal territories, and Tribal Sovereignty. Conservation easements on agricultural land in the Lower Coeur d’Alene River Basin against land use development. She appreciates the ability to be a part of making sound land use protection projects to the INLC Board and their members in the Pacific Northwest with a particular focus on North Idaho.

 

Peggy O'Connell

Professor Emerita and former Chair, Department of Biology, Eastern Washington University

Peggy is a vertebrate ecologist who has studied vertebrate behavior and vertebrate-habitat relationships in a wide variety of environments including eastern deciduous forests, southwestern deserts, and tropical savannahs and forests. Since moving to the Inland Northwest close to 40 years ago, she and her students have examined how human activities from logging and grazing to habitat restoration affect vertebrate populations in the region’s varied habitats. She has been involved with regional land conservation for many years, first as a board member of The Nature Conservancy of Washington and then as a board officer and long-term member of the LPC of the INLC. Working with the INLC as it has grown and matured has provided her with a meaningful and proactive avenue to give back to the resources she values.

Rob Lindsay

Administrator, Spokane County Environmental Services

Rob was born and raised in the Inland Northwest and is proud to call Spokane his home. His lifelong passion is exploring local trails less traveled with his family.

Rob is a hydrogeologist and has focused his career on environmental protection and resource management. His  approach to resource management is founded on preservation for future generations. “My charge is to consider the impacts to my children, and their children, with the resource decisions we make today. And that’s why I resonate with Inland Northwest Land Conservancy, to preserve these resources for generations to come.”

Casey Flanagan

Casey joined the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy in March 2022. Growing up north of Spokane, Casey was raised for a love for the outdoors. She currently resides along Lake Spokane with her husband and kids on a small hobby farm. Her and her family enjoy fishing, hiking, backpacking, camping, foraging and rafting throughout the pacific northwest.

Casey holds a B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in fisheries and ecology from Eastern Washington University. She has worked for the Spokane Tribe of Indians for over 12 years as a Water and Fish Project Manager. Her position entails conducting fish and habitat surveys on tributaries to the Spokane River and Lake Roosevelt, as well as water quality monitoring and stream habitat restoration. She is currently on the board of the Spokane River Forum, Spokane Watershed Salmon Restoration Lead Entity, Spokane County Voluntary Stewardship Program and the Spokane River, Lake Roosevelt and Upper Columbia River Redband Trout Workgroups.

Judy Stafstrom

Retired high school government and U.S. History teacher

Judy loves contributing to the preservation of land for the enjoyment of all generations while also contributing to healthy relationships. She gets excited at each Land Protection Committee meeting because she sees the fruits of all the various efforts to protect land. She enjoys volunteering for work parties. She says INLC enables people to make a real difference for land conservation in the region while meeting talented and fun loving people of different backgrounds.

Eric Erickson

Eric lives near Riverside State Park and has been instrumental in protecting areas like the Trautman Ranch property. He hikes daily with his dogs and, in addition to his work on the Land Protection Committee, does GIS mapping work as a volunteer for the Conservancy. His story is featured in this post to our blog from 2020.

Sandy Emerson

Real Estate Appraiser, Emerson Valuation 

J.A. “Sandy Emerson grew up on the lake, graduated from the University of Idaho and served as an Army Facilities Engineer in Germany (South Bavaria) before returning with his family to northern Idaho. Sandy was a real estate broker and later executive director of the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce. He is a real estate appraiser, focusing on land valuations for timberlands and waterfront properties. His lifelong interests in outdoor recreational activities make preservation and protection of our area’s natural resources a priority in his life. 

Building on Local Parks History

Olmsted 2.0

With 175 sunny days per year and 87 city parks, Spokane, Washington boasts a reputation of being an ideal destination for enjoyment of the outdoors. As the region gets discovered, though, population expansion in the County necessitates a new, bold vision for access to the outdoors–one that will last our community for the next 100 years and beyond.

Learn More

Where We Work

INLC protects a variety of private and public land throughout the Inland Northwest. To find out more about our project areas, check out Where We Work.

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