Board & Staff
The son of a US Air Force officer, Ed was raised in London and Ankara, Turkey. He received a BA in English and masters in economics from Ohio State University, an MA in public policy and a law degree from the University of Chicago. Ed taught law in Singapore as a Henry Luce Scholar. He joined law firms in New York, and practiced there and in Hong Kong before becoming a partner with Perkins Coie in the Pacific Northwest for several years. Next came project finance work in Singapore, China, and Southeast Asia, followed by positions in private equity and banking from 2000-2014, with Lone Star Funds, Merrill Lynch, Shinsei Bank, and Bank of New York Mellon based in Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Ed and his wife, Linda, moved to Bainbridge Island two years ago, where they enjoy hiking, cycling, kayaking, and sailing – when he takes time off from active involvement in Rotary, and of course, the Land Trust’s projects committee.
Sally Hewett, Vice President
Exploring and appreciating the forests, shores and wildlife of Bainbridge Island since 1983, Sally is grateful to be involved in this community that shares values of wellness for the land and people. Having raised a daughter here and as a dentist on the island, she has been active in various organizations and activities that support island health and well-being. Sally has also served with communications, international programs, and continuing education for the American Dental Association and has volunteered internationally in oral health education in developing countries through the FDI World Dental Federation.
Nicole Bavo, Secretary
Nicole grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California and made her way to the Pacific Northwest for college after spending summers on Whidbey Island. After a few years in Washington, Nicole knew this would be her home state due to its natural beauty and the people. After earning a degree from University of Puget Sound, Nicole pursued a career in non-profit management and fundraising. Her education includes The Fundraising School through IUPUI and a certificate in Non-Profit Management from UW Tacoma. Nicole has her Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from UW Tacoma. When not working to make her community a better place, Nicole can be found traveling, crabbing in the summer, skiing in the winter and exploring the world with her husband and three energetic boys.
In 2002, Asha parlayed her experience as a senior real estate paralegal in Minneapolis into a personally much more meaningful second career in the NW land trust community. She has served as land protection project manager and later as conservation director for the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy (formerly Inland NW Land Trust) in Spokane, WA, as a board member for the Bowen Island Conservancy in British Columbia, and from 2008-2013 as the executive director of the Bainbridge Island Land Trust. After stepping down from that role, she has continued to be a committed and active Land Trust volunteer, serving on its Finance, Fundraising and Projects Committees ever since, and recently also becoming a volunteer lead steward for the Land Trust’s Carlson conservation easement. Asha and her business partner husband Larry Pluimer live on Bainbridge and run two businesses out of their island home, ably assisted by two rascally cats and the best dog ever.
As a newly minted graduate of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Andrea joined Cambridge Alternative Power Company, one of the first wave of alternative energy businesses spurred on by federal subsidies. She shifted to management of temporary personnel for firms in Boston, then moved across the country to become marketing director for the Seattle Club, and to help launch the Riverplace club in Portland. The environmental field called and she worked for five years as regional director of the Environmental Careers Organization, a nationwide program to develop professionals for green jobs through internships at government agencies, nonprofits and companies. She and husband John moved to Bainbridge in 1992, where she ran her own ecotourism company, Weathervane Tours, until 2000, when the couple – already parents of two daughters – adopted a son from Russia. Since then, she has served in many capacities, including mental health case manager, special event coordinator, school program and placement organizer. A former board member of Friends of The Farms, and current manager of rental property in Winthrop, Andrea enjoys traveling in the U.S. and overseas, and is a non-fiction writer and editor.
Mark and Patti landed on Bainbridge Island in 2015 after years of toiling away in corporate careers, Mark in finance and Patti in communications. They were drawn to the island as the antidote for city living. One of the very first events they attended was the Annual Land Trust Pot Luck and they felt immediately at home. The intersection of wild space preservation and community involvement just resonated. Since then their involvement with the Land Trust has deepened. Mark brought his background in planning, forecasting and capital management to the Finance Committee in 2018. He is honored to join the Board in 2020. The outdoors has always been an essential part of Mark’s life. You can usually find him walking the Island parks, hiking across the Olympics, paddling a kayak or holding a fly rod.
J. Grant Blackinton
Grant grew up outside Denver, Colorado and spent family vacations camping in the Rockies. He was active in the Boy Scouts and enjoyed several hiking & canoe trips. He got his Electrical Engineering Degree in 1966 and went on to work in both California and Sweden designing digital voltmeters. In 1971-72 he spent a year in Africa traveling by boat up the Congo River, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and meeting some of the most civilized people on the planet. Returning from Africa, he lived in Geneva, Switzerland for 6 months studying French and then moved to Hawaii to attend the University. After earning his PhD in Ocean Engineering in 1985, specializing in ocean acoustics, he co-founded an ocean survey company based on the sonar systems that he designed. When the company moved to Seattle in 1991, Grant and his family moved to Bainbridge. He retired in 2009 after amassing over 1800 days at sea and now greatly appreciates walking the usually solid ground of the forests on Bainbridge.
Greg and his wife Kathy grew up in Tacoma and graduated from the University of Washington. Greg went on to earn a PhD in Marine Geology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He then worked in the oil industry for over 20 years, managing applied research efforts related to oil field development, in a career that took him to Houston, Alaska, London, Kuwait, and Columbia. Upon retirement, Greg and Kathy returned to the Puget Sound area and chose to live on Bainbridge Island partly because of its reputation for supporting education and environmental conservation. Greg is a docent at IslandWood, a member of the Bainbridge Island Kiwanis club, and spends some of his time exploring local geology, giving presentations, and working with Cameron Snow on a video covering our island’s geological history.
Steve was born and raised in western Oregon where his family was involved in farming, the forest products industry and politics. Moving to Bainbridge Island in 2017 with his wife, Linda, a writer and former Georgetown University professor, was a homecoming after 30 years working in Washington DC as a congressional staff person and a health care lobbyist. Prior to those years he was a newspaper, magazine and wire service reporter in New York, San Francisco and Portland. During college at Columbia University, Steve worked four summers as a US Forest Service firefighter in the Pacific Northwest. He has served on several non-profit agency boards, most recently the Washington DC Tennis and Education Foundation for 12 years, primarily on fundraising and capital projects.
Growing up on the East Coast, Jenny earned two degrees from Duke University – a B.S. in zoology in 1991 and a law degree in 1994. After working as a lawyer in Anchorage and in Washington, D.C., Jenny and her husband John, a Bainbridge Island native, moved here in 1997. She quickly fell in love with Washington State and its varied terrain and wildlife. For four years she worked in Government Relations at the Seattle office of The Nature Conservancy, pursuing public partnerships in conservation and helping to protect natural areas at the state and federal level. After having a family, she became an active volunteer on Bainbridge, including serving on the Vestry and leading annual campaigns at Grace Church, and becoming a founding member of Mom’s Morning Retreat, a support group for mothers. A proud parent of two teen boys, Jenny enjoys sea kayaking and walking on our local trails.
Zan Merriman was raised in the East Coast tradition that values the outdoors, a gene carried through both parents. She spent summers in a log house on five acres in Putnam County NY. There were salamanders under rocks and fireflies at night. The woods, hills and valleys of upstate NY and Vermont populate Zan’s memory to this day: the smells, the sounds, the wildlife. Bainbridge is a place like that, worth preserving, worth enjoying for generations. After graduating from Boston University with a BS in journalism she spent several years in Washington DC, working and pursuing a graduate degree in cultural anthropology. When reality hit–later in life than it did for many–Zan decided to get an MBA (UC Berkeley 1983). A career in real estate finance followed, running parallel with her interest in raising money for non-profits.
Merle’s longstanding passion for nature and the environment as well as its soothing effects began in her early childhood meandering the forests and beaches in New Jersey. She relocated to Bainbridge Island 20 years ago because of the island’s natural splendor and efforts towards land preservation. Merle has spent her professional career as a school administrator, college psychology instructor, and a consultant emphasizing organizational structures and design. Her work within schools has emphasized the design and development of systems to effectively promote equity for all students, particularly those who have faced challenges and/or have been marginalized. Both her Master’s Degree in Psychology from Rutgers University and her Doctoral work at Columbia University have supported her work. Merle enjoys hiking, bicycling, fly fishing, tennis (when her knees permit it!), the arts and simply enjoying the beautiful place we call home. She is passionate in her efforts to make a difference – for everyone!
Shortly after moving to the Island in 2006, Matt and his wife Sara welcomed their first child. It was during his first year of parenthood that Matt became familiar with the Land Trust as it seemed the only time his infant son would sleep was after he had been strapped to a parent and walked through the woods. Since then, Matt and Sara have crisscrossed the Island many times, often on Land Trust trails with a kid on their back. These first family walks on Land Trust properties made it clear to Matt that he was someplace special and convinced him to lend a hand. Soon, Matt was helping the Land Trust Communications Committee with quarterly newsletters and annual reports until a two-year work project for Sara took them to Europe. Upon their return to the Island in 2012, Matt remained at home with the kids and did not immediately return to his previous career in public relations and marketing for high-tech companies. Today, Matt is the owner and operator of Bainbridge Island Outfitters + Depot an adventure retail and gear rental store in Pleasant Beach Village. When he’s not with family or friends hiking the Island or digging in the garden, Matt prefers stalking trout with a fly rod in hand.
Phil is a former member of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council and a former Washington State Senator. He has been one of the strongest advocates of renewable energy investment, fish and wildlife protection, and development of state and local adaptation strategies to address impacts of climate change. While serving in the Washington State Legislature, he chaired the Senate Environment, Water & Energy Committee. Phil served on the Land Trust board in the early 1990s and is currently serving on the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.
Ray is the Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Business and Conservation Initiative, which he launched in 2007. The program engages with industry, governments and other stakeholders to explore innovative approaches to balance conservation and development interests through design and implementation of best practices aimed at reducing and compensating for impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Ray also directs WCS’s Conservation Finance Program which focuses on the development of sustainable financing mechanisms that contribute to positive biodiversity conservation and sustainability outcomes. Ray serves on the Boards of the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network, the Conservation Finance Alliance, and has been active with organizations engaged with the carbon market. He is also a member of the Biodiversity and Livelihood Advisory Committee for Total Uganda. He is trained as a natural resource economist, and has worked on conservation and sustainable development issues in Africa, Asia, and Latin America for more than 30 years. Ray has lived on Bainbridge Island with his wife and two children since 2000. He served for several years on the City’s Community Forestry Commission and with other Commission members created a Community Forestry Strategy that was delivered to the City. He now lives downtown in the new Grow Community.
Jane Stone, Executive Director
Jane Myers Stone first arrived on Bainbridge Island in 1984. At that time there were few truly public open spaces but thousands of acres of private undeveloped land that were used as de facto parks. She recalls attending one of the first organizational meetings of the Land Trust and was later involved with both the board or projects committee from 1997 through 2007. She was excited to return to the Land Trust, which has truly “grown-up” to become a successful conserver of the Island’s beautiful places, for the benefit of all. As a geotechnical engineer who has practiced on Bainbridge for over 28 years, she has seen dramatic changes to our local landscape. Look for Jane on the island’s many trail systems; fishing, backpacking or skiing in the mountains; and enjoying a home grown meal from the garden.
Cullen Brady, Development Director
After living in Munich, Germany for a year, Cullen returned to the Pacific Northwest and worked for Congressman Earl Blumenauer, City Club of Portland (a citizen-based policy think-tank), and ultimately The Nature Conservancy in major gift fundraising and eventually as a member of their federal government affairs team. He continued working in conservation policy at Portland, Oregon-based Sustainable Northwest on rural, rangeland, forest, and transportation policy issues. Eventually, Cullen landed in the Seattle area as a part of The Wilderness Society’s major gifts team. Cullen recently served as the Maritime Policy Fellow within the Washington State Department of Commerce for the Governor’s Maritime Sector Lead. He holds a B.A. with dual majors in International Affairs and German Studies from Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon and a Master’s degree in Marine and Environmental Affairs from the University of Washington.
Laura O’Mara, Senior Development Advisor
Laura feels entirely fortunate to work with the Bainbridge Island Land Trust — the board, staff, members and volunteers (past and present) are remarkable. Having worked for a number of non-profits, Laura joined the Land Trust staff in 2003. She walks the island with her family and friends — always in awe of the great physical beauty that surrounds us. She deeply appreciates the Land Trust’s ongoing conservation work.
Brenda Padgham, Conservation Director
Brenda brings over 3 decades of natural resource, community engagement and public relations experience to the Land Trust through her professional and volunteer involvement with a number of non-profit, state and local organizations & agencies. Brenda joined the Land Trust in 2006. Working with landowners, volunteers and the community, Brenda oversees the Land Trust’s Stewardship and Conservation Program, which helps ensures that once properties are acquired, they are protected and retain their conservation values – forever. She leads major initiatives of the Land Trust such as new acquisitions, restoration projects and conservation planning. Brenda is a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, with the past 26 years spent in Washington (on both sides of the Pacific Crest). She lives on the Island and constantly explores the rivers, mountains, coastlines and more of the PNW with her son James, their dog Homer, and friends and family.
Gina King, Conservation Project Lead
Gina moved with her family to Bainbridge Island in 1983 and has had one foot on the Island ever since. She went off to study zoology and natural resource science at University of Washington and UC Berkeley and spent 26 years as a wildlife biologist with the Yakama Nation, protecting sensitive species and habitats in south-central Washington. When her daughter started at UW she moved back to the area, and is excited to be back on the wet side of the mountains, helping to preserve the natural places that make the Island so special. She and her husband enjoy hiking, reading, and travel, and are finally learning to kayak like true Northwesterners.
Andrew Fraser, Stewardship Coordinator
A Pacific Northwest native, Andrew grew up spending his summers out along the coast and weekends throughout the year volunteering at invasive species pulls and tree plantings. After a four year detour in the South, Andrew returned the Northwest to attend graduate school at the University of Washington and earn a degree in Restoration Ecology and Environmental Horticulture. Since graduating, he has worked and volunteered with a number of non-profits, county, and federal agencies though out Oregon and Washington. Having fallen in love with the island during grad school, Andrew is thrilled to join the Bainbridge Island Land Trust and help preserve the unique island landscape for future generations. In his free time, he enjoys cooking new recipes, propagating plants, reading, telling bad puns, and volunteering at restoration projects.
Photo © Sue Larkin
Debbie Rimkus, Office Administrator
Debbie Rimkus moved to Bainbridge Island in 1999 from the Washington DC area. She has both an administrative and non-profit background. As the former parish administrator for Grace Church, she also has extensive experience with large events. Debbie and her husband Andy raised two children and still enjoy family vacations that involve hiking. They feel fortunate to live on beautiful Bainbridge Island and as Meadowmeer residents are frequently out on the Grand Forest trails. In addition to hiking, Debbie enjoys reading, knitting and music.
Barbara Shane, Project Associate
Barbara moved to the island two decades ago from the east coast and has been elated by the green island environment ever since. She had a long career in international public health, developing, managing, and writing about reproductive, maternal, and child health programs. Long a supporter of the Land Trust, she is excited to contribute to its important work preserving natural areas on the island. She enjoys rowing in Eagle Harbor, getting her hands dirty in the garden, and hiking with her family.
Matt Steinwurtzel, Community Engagement Coordinator
Hailing from Washington D.C., Matt has worked in the conservation field for several organizations both nationally and internationally. After earning a degree in Environmental Studies from Franklin & Marshall College, Matt returned to the world of policy in DC for a short stint before relocating out west to take part in the growing trend of conservation action at the local level. Matt arrived onto the island in 2020, and is thrilled to bring his passion for conservation and community engagement to the island to help the organization protect so many beautiful natural areas. When he isn’t in the office, Matt can typically be found with his bloodhound combing the trails and streams of the island and the greater peninsula.
Josie Meier, Summer Intern
Josie grew up on Bainbridge and is currently studying Environmental Science and Resource Management at the University of Washington. She has worked with the Land Trust for the past four summers doing invasive removal projects with the Teen Conservation Crew and is excited to continue working to protect and care for beautiful spaces on Bainbridge. She is outside as often as possible, biking around Bainbridge, running trails, hiking in the Olympics, and swimming in the Sound.