Learn more about our passionate and dedicated Board of Directors and staff.
- Board of Directors
Our Board of Directors
A Board of Directors that are enthusiastic about and dedicated to a non-profit’s mission are essential to the organization being vibrant and successful. FOMR seeks out Board members with varied skills and backgrounds but most of all individuals who understand and appreciate the role Malheur Refuge plays in natural world.
Alan Contreras - President
Alan Contreras is a fourth-generation Oregonian born in Tillamook County. A birder from the age of 11, Alan first visited Harney County in 1969. He has made biannual trips to the Refuge for the past 50 years.
From 2011-2012 Alan served on FOMR’s board while also serving on the board of the Great Basin Society, which operates the Malheur Field Station. “I’ve been a part of the interest groups at Malheur Refuge for quite a while now,” he says.
Alan is semi-retired from a career in higher-education oversight, mostly for the state of Oregon. He is also a writer and editor, notably serving as the editor of “Edge of Awe”, a collection of writings on Malheur Refuge and Harney County from birders, naturalists and other high-desert devotees.
Alan is looking forward to bringing more of Oregon’s birding community into the FOMR fold. “The Refuge is going through a number of transitions now; membership is healthy but we can do better,” he says. “Neither Sheran (having joined the Board with Alan) or I are biologists; neither will we be doing any trail maintenance or tree planting because we’re older—but we do know lots of contacts in the Oregon birding community and we look forward to finding more ways to involve them.”
Liz Jones – Vice President
Born in Springfield, OR, and raised in Eugene, Liz attended the University of Oregon and has lived in the Pacific Northwest for most of her life.
She first stumbled upon the high desert of Harney County in the early 1980s, while returning from a two-week trip to Yellowstone National Park with her husband Jeff. They stopped at Page Springs Campground, near the southern edge of Malheur Refuge. Liz knew immediately that they had found a special place. “I went, ‘Wow, I have to come back here,’” she said.
Living in Seattle at the time, she and her husband revisited Harney County on occasion over the years. After they moved back to Oregon in the early 90s to “come home,” as she puts it, she estimates that they’ve been back to visit every year since.
The waters of Harney County are what initially drew her here. “I’m not a passionate birder or a biologist. My passion is flyfishing,” she said. But over the years, she’s come to appreciate the collaborative efforts between stakeholders in the area to conserve natural resources, including those at Malheur Refuge.
Liz learned of FOMR recently, after she and her husband volunteered at the Refuge and the Nature Center & Store. She became a FOMR member soon afterward, and last month she accepted FOMR’s invitation to join the Board of Directors. “I’m one of those people who join to make a difference,” she said. Liz comes from a corporate business background and brings years of organizational experience to FOMR. We’re very pleased to have her on board.
William Tweed – Secretary
A native Californian, environmental historian William C. Tweed attended the College of the Sequoias, the University of the Pacific, and Texas Christian University, where he earned both master’s and doctorate degrees in history. He currently resides in Bend, Oregon, with his wife Frances.
For more than thirty years he pursued a career with the United States National Park Service, where he worked at various times as a historian, ranger-naturalist, park planner, concessions management specialist, public affairs specialist, and park program manager. He spent most of these years at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California, enjoying the final decade of his career there as the parks’ Chief Naturalist. In that role he oversaw not only the parks’ interpretive programming but also its visitor center design, wayside exhibit, and public affairs programs.
In the years since he left Federal service in 2006, Dr. Tweed has pursued his interests as an author, newspaper columnist, field naturalist, lecturer, and consultant. During these years he also served on the Board of Directors of both the Sequoia Natural History Association (2006-2010) and the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Foundation (2006-2012). He spent time as chairman of both organizations.
Dr. Tweed is the author or co-author of a number of books, including Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the Story Behind the Scenery; Challenge of the Big Trees, A Resource History of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks; Recreation Site Planning and Improvements in National Forests, 1891-1942; Death Valley and the Northern Mohave, A Visitor’s Guide; and Uncertain Path: A Search for the Future of National Parks.
Late 2016 saw two new books by Dr. Tweed published: King Sequoia: The Tree that Inspired a Nation, Created Our National Park System, and Changed the Way We think About Nature (Heyday), and Challenge of the Big Trees: A History of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Revised Edition (George Thompson Books).
His latest book, Granite Pathways: A History of the Wilderness Trails of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, is scheduled for publication in the summer of 2021 by the Sequoia Parks Conservancy.
Jerry Moore - Treasurer
Jerry first visited Malheur Refuge in 1971 as student on an Eastern Oregon University Biology Department field trip. While obtaining a biology degree at EOU, he was involved with the opening of Malheur Field Station and in the summers of 1974 and 1975 participated in the Malheur Refuge Youth Conservation Corp, first as a group leader and then in 1975 as the program director. He obtained a graduate Zoology degree at Oregon State University and spent two summers doing small mammal research on Steens Mountain, the watershed that feeds the southern end of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
After completing his Zoology degree, he went on to spend 19 years as the Director of Operations at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. Jerry is retired and lives in Bend, Oregon with his wife Chris. They enjoy birding and nature related travel with the Sky Islands of SE Arizona being a favorite.
Matt works for The Nature Conservancy as the Sagebrush Sea Program Director, leading a team of colleagues and partners focused on improving sagebrush ecosystem restoration, management, and protection across the West. Matt works extensively with federal land management agencies, state governments, livestock and industry representatives, and other non-profit organizations to develop strategies, secure funding, and implement projects in a six-state area. In the before times, Matt travelled extensively, but for now spends most of his time at home in Bend, Oregon. Matt is a botanist and ecologist by training. He spends most of his free time looking for birds, rare plants, unusual geology, or just tending the garden.
With both a personal and professional connection to Harney County and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Matt would enjoy helping the Friends of Malheur identify and plan resource improvements and threat abatement that increase bird habitat and benefit how people visit and use the Refuge. Matt understands the social, economic, and ecological challenges facing southeast Oregon, and would be excited to help the Refuge better achieve its goals.
Alice has been visiting Malheur National Wildlife Refuge since the 1960s, first birding and then volunteering. She is a retired teacher who enjoys sharing her love of wildlife with visitors of all ages. She believes deeply in the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System, which sets wildlife conservation as its primary purpose and preservation and restoration of biological diversity and environmental health as its main goal.
Alice is a founding member of the Friends of Malheur being integral in its establishment in 1999. She served as Vice President of the Board from 2014 – 2021.
For more than 20 years Gary worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the National Wildlife Refuge System. He worked primarily on wetland, waterfowl and water bird management and planning in Eastern Oregon and in California’s Central Valley. Gary served as a wildlife biologist at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for 15 years and is currently working part time for the International Crane Foundation on sandhill crane conservation in the Pacific Flyway. He finished his PhD work on wintering ecology of sandhill cranes in 2015 through Oregon State University.
Kenn didn’t start to notice birds until the age of six, but this interest soon developed into a lifelong passion that has never let go. He burst onto the national birding scene as a teenager in the 1970s, hitch-hiking all over North America in pursuit of birds, an adventure later chronicled in his cult-classic book Kingbird Highway. After working as a leader of nature tours to all seven continents, he switched to a career as a freelance writer, artist, and naturalist. Most of his energy currently goes into book projects and into painting bird portraits. He has written a dozen books, including his own field guide series, Kaufman Field Guides, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt of Boston. The series now includes volumes on North American birds, butterflies, mammals, insects, advanced birding, and the nature of New England, with a guide to nature of the Midwest as the latest addition in 2015.
His other books include Lives of North American Birds and Flights Against the Sunset. Kenn currently lives in Ohio, where his wife Kimberly is now director of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. Kenn is a field editor for Audubon magazine, a fellow of the American Ornithologists’ Union, and one of only two persons to have received the American Birding Association’s lifetime achievement award twice.
Mark was born in Salt Lake City and has lived in Utah, Montana, Minnesota, Alaska and Oregon. He enjoyed growing up in Corvallis with two younger brothers, attending school there from elementary through college at OSU. He graduated in 1984 with a degree in Wildlife Science and started working for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) in the fall of 1985. In his 27- year career with ODFW he has worked at numerous offices and Wildlife Areas. Presently he is the Manager of Sauvie Island Wildlife Area.
Mark started birding at the age of 12 in 1972 and readily became involved with Corvallis Audubon Society. That year was also his first year experiencing Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and he has revisited every year since. Mark currently lives on Sauvie Island near Portland, Oregon with his wife Nancy, their dog and their two cats.
Rick is a retired biologist, following a diverse 35-year career with BLM, FWS, and USFS as a range specialist, fish and wildlife biologist and wildlife refuge manager in California, Utah, Idaho, Hawaii, Washington and Oregon. He spent most of the 1990s working at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as a wildlife biologist where he developed a passion for controlling common carp. His carp kill list is about 150,000 and still growing, working as a volunteer Malheur Refuge and Malheur National Forest. Much of his time now is spent travelling with his wife on natural history trips to remote parts of the world, emphasizing birds and photography. Their adventures have taken them from Papua New Guinea, to Madagascar, from Ethiopia to Columbia with numerous places in-between.
Currently he works for the Oregon Eagle Foundation monitoring golden eagle nest sites across southeast Oregon and enjoying the scenery, wildlife and adventures of the vast sagebrush ocean. At home he enjoys hunting, fishing, packing with their horse and mule and cooking injera.
Carl Woodward has been practicing law for over 40 years. He has a broad integrated practice with specializations in environmental, municipal, zoning and planning, real estate, insurance and criminal law, and litigation in state and federal courts. Mr. Woodward was appointed an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey in 1971, has served as Chief of the Environmental Protection Division, has been trustee of the New Jersey Institute of Local Government Attorneys, has lectured on various topics in municipal law, and has taught zoning and planning at Seton Hall Law School as an adjunct professor.
Carl is an avid birder and photographer and has traveled widely in pursuit of these passions. His wife, Kathy Woodward, is a member of the board for the National Wildlife Refuge Association and they reside in New Jersey.
In 1981 Sheran Wright moved to Oregon from the eastern U.S. and took her first birding trip in August 1983 to Tillamook County, with the Portland Audubon Society. “We saw more than 200 species on that trip, and I was hooked,” she says.
Sheran first visited Malheur Refuge in the spring of 1984, staying at the Malheur Field Station. She’s been back almost every spring and fall, staying a week or more each time. A retired federal labor investigator, Sheran has served on the boards of the Great Basin Society and the Oregon Birding Association (OBA). For years she’s helped organize OBA trips to Malheur Refuge.
Sheran was urged to join FOMR’s board by Alan Contreras. “I thought about it: I’ve been visiting the Refuge for 36 years, I have an ongoing interest in several conservation issues here, such as tree cover and birder access…I was happy to be recommended to the board and look forward to getting more involved here,” she says.
The Friends of Malheur strives to attract staff that are highly skilled and passionate about Malheur Refuge and its ecological importance. Our staff’s skills and dedication to excellence is key in achieving our mission and commitment to Malheur Refuge.
Janelle Wicks - Executive Director
Janelle joined the Friends of Malheur NWR as Executive Director in 2018. She has a long history with and deep passion for the US Fish & Wildlife Service and National Wildlife Refuge System. It began in 2006 when she started volunteering at a US FWS Fish Hatchery Laboratory in Lamar, PA.
After completing her BS of Biology in Environmental Sciences and Marine Biology, she dove into a career that vacillated between working in natural resources for federal public lands management agencies and as an informal educator and program manager for non-profits. This winding path has taken her from her home state of Pennsylvania to the shores of Virginia before moving to Oregon in 2013.
Since arriving in the Beaver State, Janelle has moved from Gold Beach to Corvallis and then Klamath Falls before finding her home in Harney County with wife, Teresa, and their three dogs, Freyja, Sputnik, and Aengus. When Janelle is not busy engaging with visitors at the Refuge or facilitating one or more of the Friends many ongoing projects she can be found knitting in a hammock, simply soaking up the good life.
Aurora Wyn Potts - Crane's Nest Manager
Crane's Nest Manager, Aurora, grew up in Atlanta, GA watching wildlife on nature programs. She received a B.A. in Environmental Studies with a Film Studies concentration and a minor in Visual Art from Eckerd College and an M.A. in Zoology from Miami University and Woodland Park Zoo's Advanced Inquiry Program. She's been published in The Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation for her research on owl behavior. She's trained and performed with free flighted birds of prey at Stone Zoo in Boston, MA and worked as a wildlife rehabber and environmental educator. She loves the abundance and diversity of birds of prey in Harney County and engages in falconry, photography, videography and occasionally whitewater rafting.
Be a Malheur Refuge Advocate.
You can become a Malheur Refuge champion by joining the Friends of Malheur and together we can advocate for a secure and more prosperous future for Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and our national wildlife refuge system.