After finishing her undergraduate degree in biology from Cornell, Kristin headed west for law school in Portland—and, boy, are we happy that she did. As a student law clerk, Kristin helped ONDA build and litigate cases to restore damaged steelhead streams in the John Day River basin. ONDA was so pleased with her outstanding work and love of Oregon’s high desert that we asked Kristin to join as a staff attorney the moment she completed her law degree.
Kristin shined in one project after another, including ONDA’s first big wilderness victory, in a case involving Beaty Butte. That court decision established the Bureau of Land Management’s obligation to survey and consider impacts to wilderness values before approving projects that might impair those values. I still remember that thrilling phone call from Kristin in 2006, where she shouted, “We won Gulches!!!”
During her time at ONDA, Kristin appreciated visiting Malheur Wildlife Refuge to watch Steve Herman and his students banding birds, his joy contagious. She recalls adventurous monitoring trips to Louse Canyon, an area so remote you need to carry extra gas. “But most of my time,” remarks Kristin, “was spent in the Portland office writing briefs!”
After a few years in Portland, Kristin moved to Boise—to continue working on high desert protection, with Western Watersheds Project and Advocates for the West, and to be that much closer to the Oregon high desert.
She later shifted into immigration law, and for the last several years, Kristin has represented former refugees in immigration matters at the International Rescue Committee.
“It was fulfilling to empower people displaced by war to become US citizens, which provides a sense of permanency and belonging that their lives often lacked for a very long time. Human rights and biodiversity are bound up, as evidenced by the brutal treatment of indigenous land defenders around the world, and the environmental contributions of many refugee crises.”
Kristin has recently accepted a position with the U.S. refugee resettlement program and is looking forward to new challenges.