Photo: Land Trust.

Land Trust Staff

The Deschutes Land Trust is staffed by a diverse corps of conservation and nonprofit professionals. We are passionate about land conservation and exploring the wonders of Central Oregon.

Questions? Contact our team!

Do you have questions, kudos, or other feedback? Let us know:

Rika Ayotte (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Deschutes Land Trust's Executive Director. She is responsible for managing and administering the work of the Land Trust, supervising staff, and overseeing the financial and operational performance of the organization. She lives and works from Terrebone and in our Bend office.

Rika was born and raised in Southern Oregon and has lived in Central Oregon since 2015. She holds a B.A. in history from the University of Washington and an M.A. in museum management and an MBA in nonprofit management from John F. Kennedy University. She serves on the Boards of The Children’s Forest of Central Oregon and the Global Leadership Adventures International Foundation, and sits on the Bend Cultural Tourism Fund Commission. When she’s not working or volunteering, you will find her hiking and camping with her family and her dog and chasing after her energetic toddler.

Email: Rika Ayotte
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Natasha Bellis (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Deschutes Land Trust’s Conservation Director. She is responsible for identifying and carrying out the Land Trust’s conservation projects. Natasha holds an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School with a certificate in Environmental and Natural Resource Law. She is an active member of the Oregon State Bar. Prior to joining the Land Trust, Natasha restored streamflow to Oregon’s rivers and creeks with the Deschutes River Conservancy and The Freshwater Trust. Natasha lives and works in Bend and enjoys exploring Central Oregon by bike, skis, and boat with her partner and two kids.

Email: Natasha Bellis
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Pat Cohen (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Deschutes Land Trust’s Operations Associate. Pat is responsible for general management and organization of the Land Trust’s office. She lives and works in Bend. Pat received her B.S. in Business Management from the University of Maine. She most recently worked for the Bend 2030 Vision Project and brings a wealth of experience in office management, fundraising and campaign coordination to the Land Trust. Pat returned to her home state of Oregon in 2001 after spending over 25 years on the east coast, primarily in New England. When not working for the Land Trust, Pat enjoys the many outdoor recreational opportunities in Central Oregon and teaching her cats Lucky and Hoover new tricks.

Email: Pat Cohen
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Peter Cooper (pronouns: he/him/his) is the Deschutes Land Trust's Stewardship Associate. Peter assists with the management and monitoring of our protected lands, as well as helping implement restoration projects and engaging with the local community. He works and lives in Bend. Peter earned his B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon. After graduating, Peter worked as a seasonal restoration and stewardship associate for the Eugene-based McKenzie River Trust, where he helped with a wide variety of restoration projects. Peter has lived in Oregon his entire life and enjoys the variety of climates and landscapes that make this state so great. In his free time, you will find Peter exploring new places, backpacking, skiing, cooking, going to see live music, playing sports, and hanging out with his friends and family.

Email: Peter Cooper
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Amanda Egertson (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Deschutes Land Trust’s Stewardship Director. Amanda joined the Land Trust in 2004 and oversees the management of all of the Land Trust's protected lands. She lives and works in Bend. Amanda has a B.A. in Elementary Education and Music and an M.S. in Animal Ecology, with a research focus on songbirds and butterflies. She leads butterfly tours on Land Trust Preserves and guides the Land Trust's work with regional monarch and pollinator conservation.

Amanda serves on the board of Western Monarch Advocates and participates in annual North American Butterfly Association counts throughout Central Oregon. She and her family spend their free time exploring Oregon's great outdoors and scuba diving tropical waters. (Photo by John Williams)

Email: Amanda Egertson
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Jana Hemphill (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Deschutes Land Trust’s Community Engagement Manager. She collaborates on membership development, assists with communications, and manages the Land Trust database. She lives and works in Bend. Prior to arriving at the Land Trust in 2016, Jana lived and worked in Japan and throughout the American West, including Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming. She has a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Iowa. Jana has volunteered on the Board of Directors of Bend Bikes, on the leadership team of Central Oregon Womxn in Conservation, and with other nonprofits in the area. She enjoys being outside as much as possible, including hiking, backpacking, bike commuting, cross-country skiing, and traveling the world with her husband. You can also find her cooking with veggies from her local CSA.

Email: Jana Hemphill
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Sarah Holcombe (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Land Trust's Development Director. She leads efforts to meaningfully engage and develop support from Land Trust donors, foundations, and corporations. Prior to joining the Land Trust in 2022, Sarah was the development director for the Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation in Reno, Nevada. Sarah holds a degree in Public Relations and Business Administration from the University of Oregon. She is passionate about development and working within animal welfare and environmental sustainability causes.

Email: Sarah Holcombe
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Gabriel Juarez (pronouns: he/him/his) is the Deschutes Land Trust's Stewardship Associate. Gabriel works with our stewardship team, maintaining and improving the infrastructure and trails at all of your favorite Deschutes Land Trust Community Preserves, keeping his eye on pesky weeds, and working with volunteers to help restore habitat for our community, as well as for fish and wildlife. He lives and works in Bend.

Gabriel has a decade's worth of experience in residential and agricultural land care. He also has an extensive background in the fly fishing industry and managed a local fly shop where he was able to engage the angling community in respectful resource use and cold-water habitat stewardship. Gabriel was born and raised in Bend and is grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside the Deschutes Land Trust to preserve the places he cherishes the most. During his free time, Gabriel enjoys playing the classical guitar, gardening, foraging, and spending time with his wife and rescue dogs. 

Email: Gabriel Juarez
Phone: (541) 330-0017


John Kleinfelter is the Land Trust's Restoration Specialist. He works to identify, develop, and oversee the implementation of floodplain restoration on the Land Trust's conserved lands.

Prior to joining the Land Trust, John's work included improving habitat for salmon and steelhead populations on California's Central Coast and restoring natural stream and floodplain processes in the Lake Tahoe area. He also spent a couple decades surveying high mountain lakes and streams in the Sierra Nevada, where his research and assessments helped protect endangered amphibians and preserve native golden trout populations.

John holds a degree in Natural Resource Management from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and now makes his home in Bend with his wife, Vivian, and Cedar, their golden retriever service dog. They enjoy many outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, skiing, and biking, plus traveling to new places and painting wildlife and landscapes (Vivian), as well as fetching the ball (that would be primarily Cedar!).

Email: John Kleinfelter
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Katie McGee (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Land Trust's Development Associate. She assists with development activities including processing donations, maintaining our central database, and helping with donor cultivation and solicitation. Born and raised in Corvallis, Oregon, Katie holds a B.A. in History from the University of Oregon and an M.A. in Museum Studies from San Francisco State University. She most recently worked in development for the Architectural Heritage Center in Portland. Katie and her family live in Bend and enjoy hiking throughout the year, visiting neighborhood parks and trails, and camping in new and old favorite places. Running after an enthusiastic 3 year old keeps her busy, but she still tries to find time to garden, practice ceramics, and make creative fermentations in the kitchen.

Email: Katie McGee
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Sarah Mowry (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Deschutes Land Trust’s Community Engagement Director. Sarah joined the Land Trust is 2005 and is responsible for the Land Trust’s outreach including communications, engagement, marketing, volunteering coordination and membership development. She lives and works in Bend. Sarah has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Middlebury College and a M.S. from the University of Montana in Environmental Science with a focus on sustainable food systems.

Sarah is an Oregon Master Naturalist and is a co-founder and on the leadership team of Central Oregon Womxn in Conservation. She has served as Faculty and on the program committee for national and regional Land Trust conferences, and has published articles in True North Magazine, Cascade Journal, Bend Magazine, Central Oregon Magazine, plus several local newspapers. Sarah volunteers or has volunteered for Central Oregon Womxn in Conservation, Westside Village Magnet School, Bend Parks and Recreation, Planned Parenthood, and the Technology Association of Oregon's STEAM committee. Sarah grew up in Portland, but spent most of her time trying to escape to Bend. When not working or volunteering, she enjoys being outside swimming, gardening, hiking, canoeing, or skiing with her family.

Email: Sarah Mowry
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Mo Odell (pronouns: they/them/theirs) is the Deschutes Land Trust’s Community Engagement Associate. They assist with Land Trust communications and provide support for Land Trust events. Mo began their work with the Land Trust in 2023. Before the Land Trust, they worked with various communications teams across the country, including in Wyoming, northern Idaho, and Baltimore. They have a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Outdoor Leadership from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. Mo can be found outside of the Land Trust backpacking, bike commuting, running, and paddle boarding.

Email: Mo Odell
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Michael Rubovits (pronouns: he/him/his) is the Deschutes Land Trust’s Operations Director. Michael is responsible for the overall operations and financial management of the Land Trust. He lives and works in Bend. Michael holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Reed College and an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise from Dominican University. Prior to joining the Land Trust, Michael worked and lived in Hawaii, Colorado, and California before coming home to Central Oregon. Most recently he was the CFO at Bronwen Jewelry, and has also served as Director of Finance at the League to Save Lake Tahoe. Michael is most happy and free in the open spaces of the high desert, on his skis or bike, and gets excited about planning the next adventure to a far-flung destination with his wife and daughter.

Email: Michael Rubovits
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Mike Vernon (pronouns: he/him/his) is the Deschutes Land Trust’s Conservation Manager, helping identify and complete land protection projects for the Land Trust. He graduated from Humboldt State University with an M.S. in Natural Resources in 2017. Prior to graduate school, Mike spent several years working as a field botanist with researchers at Oregon State University and the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station. For the last four and a half years, he has been working on youth education and restoration projects with the South Santiam Watershed Council. He has also contributed to applied forest management research with the Blue Mountains Forest Partners in eastern Oregon. In his free time, Mike can be found hiking, biking, and floating through the amazing landscapes of Central Oregon.

Email: Mike Vernon
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Jen Zalewski (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Deschutes Land Trust's Stewardship Manager. She is responsible for assisting with conservation and restoration at Land Trust protected lands. She lives and works in Bend. Jen has a B.S. in conservation biology and an M.S. in wildlife biology from Humboldt State University where her Master's thesis focused on river otter ecology. Prior to joining the Land Trust as a staff member, Jen led mountain bike and birding tours for our Walks + Hikes Program. In her spare time, Jen enjoys crafting, skiing, biking, and getting out on the water with her family. (Photo by Jay Mather)

Email: Jen Zalewski
Phone: (541) 330-0017