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 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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.