Morgan Bender-deMoll
Conservation Manager

Morgan Bender-deMoll was born and raised in the Nehalem area. He grew up exploring the mountains and waters of the North Coast. After studying ecology, Morgan led a range of outdoor environmental education, conservation and therapy trips with youth throughout the west. He has been working in the land trust world since 2012. Returning home in 2021 to serve as NCLC’s stewardship assistant allowed Morgan to be closer to family and the ocean again, as well as providing a chance for him to come full circle by working to protect and care for the lands he has always called home. He then assumed the role of NCLC’s conservation manager in March 2022.


Amy Hutmacher
Stewardship Manager

Amy Hutmacher grew up in Alaska and focused on Environmental Studies for her undergraduate work at the University of the Pacific. She then completed a master’s degree in applied biology at Arizona State University, where she explored the unique riparian habitats found along southwestern seasonal creeks and streams. An opportunity to work with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife brought her to Newport on the Oregon Coast, and the chance to merge her ecology background with land conservation work led her further up the coast to North Coast Land Conservancy, where she manages projects in both conservation and land stewardship. When she’s not busy with coastal conservation, she enjoys gardening, running and playing outside with her son and husband.


Katherine Lacaze
Communications Coordinator

Katherine Lacaze grew up in a small town in Arizona before heading to a university in Virginia to study journalism. After graduating in 2010, she worked as a copy editor and reporter for numerous print publications in Virginia and Oregon, as well as writing magazine and newspaper articles, blog posts, web content and educational material. In the summer of 2020, she was hired by NCLC to manage its social media, which led to overseeing all of NCLC’s communication efforts. She has a deep passion for the natural world and coastal conservation. When not working, Katherine enjoys participating in theater productions as an actor and director, reading books, writing and spending time with her daughter, Juliette.


Chris Mathison
Office Manager

Chris Mathison spent his childhood in a rural village near the Norfolk Coast in England. He spent several years working in the IT and theater industries. Since 2020, he’s lived in Astoria with his family. He brought his technical and administrative knowledge—as well as his love for the natural world—to NCLC in May 2022, when he took on the role of office manager. When not working with coastal conservation, he enjoys playing music, reading, gardening, and spending time with his family and Boston Terriers.


Kassia Nye
Development Director

Kassia Nye joined NCLC in December 2021. An Oregon native, Kassia considers herself a born mountain goat, with an inherent passion for climbing and exploring the outdoors. Some of her favorite things about the coast are ferns on trees and moss on rocks. Prior to joining NCLC, she worked as the executive director of United Way of Clatsop County and for the Columbia Memorial Hospital Foundation. She is driven by a love for matching people and their values to meaningful causes that make a difference for future generations.


Eric Owen
Land Steward

Eric Owen completed his bachelor’s degree at Oregon State University in 2014, where he majored in environmental science with a minor in writing. In addition to his passion for conservation ecology, his interests include mycology and mushroom hunting, soccer, surfing, playing music, and brewing beer. Eric was born in Grand Junction, Colorado. He grew up in San Diego and lived in northern California for several years before moving to Oregon in 2010 to be nearer to his immediate family, who all live in the state. He resides in Warrenton.


Melissa Reich
Stewardship Director

As Stewardship Director, Melissa Reich oversees stewardship of the properties that NCLC owns or holds conservation easements on, to ensure that the land’s natural values are protected or enhanced. Melissa grew up on Shelter Island, at the east end of Long Island, New York, near the site of The Nature Conservancy’s Mashomack Preserve, where she volunteered during high school and worked during summers off from college. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology at Lewis & Clark College, where she studied invertebrate conservation and ecology and assisted with field research of the threatened Oregon silverspot butterfly. After college Melissa served three years of AmeriCorps service with the Oregon Biodiversity Information Center and The Nature Conservancy, and then went to work for TNC on the Oregon Coast doing field surveys and working with coastal land owners to improve native butterfly habitat. She joined NCLC as Stewardship Director in February 2013. Melissa lives in Astoria, where she enjoys foraging for wild food, playing her mandolin, and getting her feet wet.


Rhianna Thurber
Marine Program Manager

Rhianna was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona, where she developed a passion for the ocean from a young age. She earned a bachelor of science in marine biology in 2014 from the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau, AK, where she also worked fulltime as a bartender and marine naturalist on whale-watching boats. After graduating, she volunteered as a Research Assistant with the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust in Scotland before moving to Maui, Hawaii, in 2015 to continue working with North Pacific humpback whales in their winter breeding grounds. In the summer of 2020, Rhianna returned to Southeast Alaska to begin her graduate research with the Alaska Whale Foundation before starting a graduate program at Oregon State University, where she earned a master of science in marine resource management in June 2022. During her time at Oregon State, she also served as the regional coordinator for the Salmon Bowl, a nationally recognized high school marine science competition. She most recently completed a fixed-term position with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Resources Program  and co-authored the Third Biennial Report on ocean acidification and hypoxia. She joined NCLC as the Marine Program Coordinator in the fall of 2022 to continue her work in ocean conservation. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, photography, being in the ocean, beachcombing, and spending time outdoors with her dog.


Lynette Villagomez
Community Programs Director

Lynette Villagomez grew up in the Coachella Valley of southern California and went to college at Humboldt State University, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in environmental policy with a minor in environmental and natural resources planning in 2012. After graduation, she went to work for the Mono Lake Committee, a nonprofit conservation organization in California, as an intern and project specialist before moving to Cannon Beach in fall 2013. Shortly after arriving to Clatsop County, Lynette began working for NCLC, coordinating the organization’s volunteer and outreach program, as well as leading the organization through its work on diversity, equity and inclusion in the context of conservation. In 2022, Lynette transitioned to her current position as Community Programs Director. Lynette also enjoys hiking, backpacking, traveling, spending time with family and being involved in her community.


Katie Voelke
Executive Director

Katie Voelke was raised in a home under oak trees where she spent many hours collecting bugs, making mud pies with her sister, and camping and hiking with her parents in the summers. She is sure that this life-long exposure to the natural world is what led her on a path to study biology in school. Katie settled on Oregon’s north coast with her husband Scott in 2003 and spent time doing field work with the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife before she finally found her calling: working in land conservation with NCLC. In 2005, Katie started as NCLC’s first Stewardship Director, working under founding Executive Director, Neal Maine. After three years of learning the ropes alongside Neal, she took the helm in 2008 as Executive Director. Although her job at NCLC keeps her inside more than she would like, she manages to get her fix of the outdoors by following in her parent’s footsteps: bug collecting with her three sons and spending the summers hiking and camping with family.


Jon Wickersham
Associate Director

Jon Wickersham was born in Sitka, Alaska, but spent most of his life growing up in Gearhart, Oregon. After completing a degree in Planning from the University of Oregon in Eugene, Jon worked in rural Montana as a county planner, running an open-space bond program to protect ranches, open spaces, and wildlife habitat. He returned to Oregon’s north coast in 2010 to join the NCLC staff as Conservation Director, building a strong rapport with local landowners, county officials, and state and federal wildlife departments. When not working to conserve coastal wildlife habitat, Jon enjoys hiking, sports, running and anything that takes him outdoors!