Author: Corinne Handelman | Published: July 7, 2021 | Category: Profile
These five members of ONDA’s staff keep you connected to desert conservation year-round.
Allison Crotty, Development Director
What I do: As ONDA’s development director, I oversee all of ONDA’s fundraising and communications work. I keep an eye on the big picture and make sure our work is strategic, integrated, efficient and effective. I also take great care to ensure ONDA members understand the vital impact of their giving. Lastly, I manage our grants program where I get to gather and present all sorts of fascinating information from ONDA staff on their plans and progress.
Why I love my job: I love my job because everyone at ONDA shares the same vision and is dedicated to our conservation mission. In my day-to-day activities, I interact with all staff members so that I can share the incredible work they are doing with potential funders and donors. I also love that I have the opportunity to swap stories with so many of ONDA’s members. Hearing why folks love Oregon’s desert and support conservation just never gets old.
High desert flora or fauna that characterizes my approach to work: After consulting my colleagues, we decided that the species that best characterizes my work is a mountain mahogany. Found high up on Steens Mountain, these shrubs are steady and long-lasting, just like ONDA’s fundraising programs.
My best pandemic purchase: Our family bought a pop-up camper to fuel our outdoor adventures. After decades of tent camping, it was time to bring a bit more comfort — and a heat source — into our lives.
Advice to my younger self: Patience and persistence ultimately pay off. This is true in most facets of life and is particularly true in the conservation field. In my decade working at ONDA, I’ve learned to not be discouraged when the change I want to see in the world isn’t happening fast enough. Instead, I recall the determination of those who came before me and know my steady, step-by-step work is part of a vital continuum of progress that will, and is, achieving our conservation vision.
Caelin Weiss, Development Coordinator
What I do: I coordinate our Central Oregon and virtual events, manage our donation processing program, coordinate monthly giving, manage our Central Oregon volunteer program and work with our team on several other outreach initiatives throughout the year. If you have attended an ONDA event or volunteered in Bend, or if you make a monthly contribution to ONDA, we’ve probably connected before!
Why I love my job: I am constantly learning from members of ONDA’s community. There is such a depth of knowledge of and passion for the high desert, from people who have lived here since ONDA’s inception in 1987 to people who are connecting with the high desert for the first time. Learning what people love about the desert and what draws them to donate, volunteer and advocate constantly opens my eyes to new elements of Oregon’s high desert. I’m so grateful for the perspectives of each person in ONDA’s community!
High desert flora or fauna that characterizes my approach to work: I’d describe myself as a broad-tailed hummingbird. A central theme of my work is connecting people to programs, places and other high desert enthusiasts to support ONDA’s mission, just like these pollinators.
My best podcast recommendation: I’m not a regular podcast listener so I might be behind the times on this one, but I recently started listening to Song Exploder. Musicians break down the process of writing one of their songs and it’s really interesting to hear their inspiration and the different musical elements that go into the overall piece that I wouldn’t otherwise have noticed.
My newest hobby: During the pandemic, I decided to learn how to oil paint. It’s still a work in progress and so far I’ve only managed to paint some pretty … abstract portraits, but it was a great after-work activity during months when the sun sets by the end of the workday. Each new layer of paint can change the full image dramatically so it’s fun to see the process unfold.
Update: This stellar and indispensable member of the Development and Communications team will soon be pursuing new career opportunities in the Bay Area. If you, or someone you know, would be a great fit for this role, you can find the hiring details and position description on ONDA’s Careers page.
Corinne Handelman, Engagement Manager
What I do: I coordinate many of ONDA’s virtual events and plan all of our Portland and western Oregon programming! I also look for places to connect folks more deeply with our work at every step in their journey of knowing ONDA — whether they’re just learning about our work or have been a member for decades — and focus on how we can be a welcoming community to anyone who loves the desert.
Why I love my job: I love connecting people to the desert, especially fellow western Oregonians who have to trek further to enjoy some spectacular corners of our vast state! There is so much diversity across high desert landscapes and something for everybody to enjoy, and I love to hear stories from people who share their desert experiences with us.
High desert flora or fauna that characterizes my approach to work: I’d say that quaking aspen best represent my approach to work since I love being surrounded by community and see the large impact we can have on conservation while working as a collective. And as a true extrovert, I can’t wait until we are able to safely gather in person again!
My best book recommendations: I’ve been reading a lot more during the pandemic (thanks in part to my book club!) and most recently enjoyed The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett and The Book of Delights by Ross Gay.
A favorite moment in the desert: I have memorable moments from every trip to the desert— hearing coyotes yipping to each other just after dusk, waking up to a clear night with full milky way views, getting splashed in the face while paddling the lower Owyhee, or smelling fresh sagebrush on a warm hike —I love that the high desert provides a full sensory experience!
Hana Sant, Membership and Engagement Coordinator
What I do: I work on member development and engagement — everything from writing fundraising appeals, to planning events, to fostering a sense of community and connection among our membership. I also manage and administrate our database and work extensively on data management — always looking for ways to make our work more efficient and effective.
Why I love my job: I am a data nerd — I love keeping our data organized and accurate, and using our database as a tool to help make all ONDA employees’ work more streamlined and efficient. And, I love meeting ONDA members! Everyone I’ve met has an interesting story and inspiring motivation for supporting our work.
High desert flora or fauna that characterizes my approach to work: The beaver — because their hard work pays off by making the ecosystem around them more enjoyable, healthy, and functional for all flora and fauna – something I’d like to think my work accomplishes at ONDA for my coworkers and for our members.
A proud moment during my work for ONDA: A moment when I felt proud of the work our team is doing was at the end of 2020. After a year of many unexpected hurdles, we managed to engage more people than expected, fostered a sense of community through captivating virtual events, and ended the year with record setting new members and total membership numbers. I love seeing ONDA’s community of desert advocates grow!
My best music recommendations: A few albums on heavy rotation in my house lately — Titanic Rising by Weyes Blood, Forever Turned Around by Whitney, Black Pumas’ self-titled album, Shore by Fleet Foxes, Texas Sun EP by Khruangbin & Leon Bridges, and Stand! by Sly & The Family Stone
Lace Thornberg, Communications Manager
What I do: As Communications Manager, my charge is keeping our conservation community educated about the importance and value of Oregon desert conservation and inspired to advocate for the desert. I direct, write, edit, design and publish. Some days I am a curator making selections. Other days it’s more like being an air traffic controller, with all the campaigns, initiatives and programs that our staff is eager to share with our community.
Why I love my job: Pretty much everything! Every single day I get to explore the high plateaus and secluded canyons of Oregon’s high desert through the words and photographs of ONDA’s volunteers and staff. I honestly think that selecting the best and most inspiring images and information to share helps keep my personal stress level way, way down.
High desert flora or fauna that characterizes my approach to work: I am going with wildflowers, because I love plants. So. Much. Let’s say that communications is all about creating seeds that spread and flourish.
My best pandemic purchase: Locally roasted coffee. Looking forward to that first cup of coffee made a difference when we were all sheltering in place last spring.
A favorite moment in the desert: Around midnight, mid-summer, in the Logan Valley. I couldn’t fall asleep because I had to keep taking one more look at the Milky Way, which was glimmering full force in a way I’d never before experienced. This moment came after a day spent in the company of the first crew of Tribal Stewards to work with ONDA, walking up the Malheur River, looking for salmon, where I experienced firsthand how ONDA’s work to protect landscapes, restore habitat and build an inclusive conservation community come together.