The staff works towards our mission alongside Council members, regional partners, and our tremendous volunteer community.
Jennifer Starkey, Education Director
Jennifer Starkey joined the Columbia Slough as Education Director in April of 2016. A sincere enthusiast about the natural and cultural history of our region, Jennifer has been an educator in Portland since 2007 and is passionate about making change to help all students access the outdoors. Jennifer gained her proclivity for outdoor learning and teaching from MESD Outdoor School, where she participated as a 6th grade student, high school student leader, and staff member. She has also taught with Caldera Arts, David Douglas High School, and most recently with the Portland Water Bureau’s Education Program. Jennifer holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Lewis & Clark and a BA from Wellesley College. In her spare time, Jennifer DJs, makes coffee, and watches Law & Order SVU.
Rachel Walsh, Volunteer Coordinator
Rachel Walsh joined Columbia Slough Watershed Council in August 2019. She grew up in Florida where she earned a B.S. in Biological Science and an M.S. in Environmental Communication from Florida State University. After moving to the Pacific Northwest in 2016, Rachel spent three years working as Program Director for the Salmon Watch outdoor education program in Portland and as Youth Programs Coordinator for Siskiyou Field Institute in southern Oregon, directing both Outdoor School and summer camp programming. Rachel lives in the Concordia neighborhood and is excited to join her local watershed council to promote community engagement with the watershed.
Matthew Lee, Stewardship Director
Matthew Lee joined the Columbia Slough Watershed Council in March of 2017. Matthew’s background is as a field botanist, working throughout this region for the National Park Service mapping native plant communities in Washington State and for the Institute for Natural Resources mapping juniper woodlands and sagebrush. Matthew received his B.S. in Horticulture from Virginia Tech inspired by his love of food and plants. After working many years in vegetation management, he decided to complete his Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from Portland State. This gave him the opportunity to expand his impact and to work with communities within an urban context. In his free time Matthew enjoys hiking, lifting, reading science fiction, cooking and juggling.
Cathy Kellon, Executive Director
After decades of conservation work at the regional scale, Cathy is excited to join the Columbia Slough Watershed Council where she can make stronger connections to a place close to home.
Cathy P. Kellon has over 18 years of experience developing and applying strategic approaches to improve habitat for native fish and wildlife, expand public awareness about the value of nature’s services, and increase community access to clean water. Most recently, Cathy was the Working Waters Director at the nonprofit organization, The Geos Institute, where she co-founded the Drinking Water Providers Partnership and led efforts to restore streams in the Pacific Northwest to benefit native fish habitat and drinking water supplies. Previously, she led the Water and Watersheds Program and the State of the Salmon Program at Ecotrust. She has served on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Drinking Water Advisory Council and Carpe Diem West’s Healthy Headwaters Leadership Team. Cathy earned her Masters degree in Geography, with a minor in Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies, from Oregon State University.
Cathy enjoys exploring the Slough by bike and canoe with her children and looks forward to helping more people discover its beauty and diversity.
Max Samuelson, Stewardship Assistant
Max Samuelson joined the Columbia Slough Watershed Council as a Stewardship Assistant in 2019. He obtained his B.S in Environmental Science from the University of Wisconsin Stout, where he focused on aquatic biology. After spending a couple years restoring native landscapes of the Midwest, Max moved onto monitoring plant communities. As a field botanist he monitored wetlands in the Twin Cities, and most recently Sage Grouse habitat with the Institute of Natural Resources in SE Oregon. He also has experience leading volunteers in restoration projects, and loves to connect communities with natural world around them. In his spare time, Max can be found wading in a river fly fishing or on the slopes of Mount Hood.
Kaia Hazard, Interim Outreach & Events Coordinator
Kaia Hazard joined the Columbia Slough Watershed Council in April of 2019. A life-long outdoor enthusiast, she enjoys facilitating meaningful connections between her community and natural spaces. During her time as a University of Oregon undergrad, she interned as an outdoor educator with Nearby Nature, where she was constantly rewarded by the zest and passion of the youth. She also led Divest UO, a fossil fuel divestment campaign on the UO campus, which ultimately pushed the university to divest and sparked her passion for organizing and climate justice. Since then, Kaia has worked in the energy efficiency sector in Portland, providing energy-saving home upgrades to low-income families, and after spending a year exploring Eastern Oregon and Washington, she is excited to re-immerse herself in the Portland culture. In her free time you can find Kaia collecting rocks, talking to her plants, and hiking with her dog.
Clare Homer, Slough School Educator
Clare Homer joined the Columbia Slough Watershed Council in September of 2019.They were raised on the Oregon coast in the small town of Astoria exploring Oregon’s history, and diverse wildlife before trading in rural life for urban life in Portland. After moving to Portland, Clare immersed themselves into informal education with their personal mission to make science an accessible topic for all. Their passion of environmental topics and informal education has led them to working and volunteering in various science education positions in the US and abroad as well as leading ocean issues workshops. They are graduating from PSU this fall with a B.S in environmental science, where they plan to continue their education with a focus in aquatic/marine biology. In Clare’s free time, you can find them fishing/clamming at the coast, knitting, or exploring Portland with their nieces.
Clare uses they/them pronouns.