Southern Oregon Land Conservancy is run by a talented and passionate staff and guided by a committed Board of Directors. With support from our Trustee Council, advisors, volunteers, and community partners, the values of integrity, openness, collaboration, and respect permeate all aspects of the organization’s work.
The staff puts the Board’s vision and priorities into action. They interact closely with the community to design and implement a range of programs and initiatives, while seamlessly managing the day-to-day operations of an accredited non-profit organization.
Diane Garcia, Executive Director
Joining the organization in 2003 as Executive Director, Diane oversees operations, finances, and personnel management. She supports the board on strategic planning and vision-setting, and fosters strong relationships with members, partners, and community stakeholders. In her spare time, Diane enjoys singing, entertaining, playing games, camping, and spending time with the little ones in her family.
Kristi Mergenthaler, Stewardship Director
Kristi works with landowners and partners around the region to care for the organization’s conserved lands. She loves to explore, bird, and botanize the region accompanied by her red dog. She’s the President of the Siskiyou Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon, a board member with Siskiyou Field Institute, and a neighborhood coordinator with Talent Food Project.
Paul Belson, Conservation Project Manager
Paul's role at SOLC is to work collaboratively with landowners and community partners to develop and manage land conservation projects, focusing on protecting the highest priority conservation lands within the SOLC service area. Paul moved back to Oregon from Hawaii in 2016 and enjoys music, playing frisbee, and spending time outdoors.
Della Merrill, Membership Director
Della focuses on building and supporting our members, donors and partners. She also researches and writes grants, oversees and writes media communications and publicity materials. Della is a fifth generation Oregonian who enjoys gardening, playing with her grandchildren, hiking and cooking.
Teresa Fernandez, Communication & Outreach Coordinator
Teresa keeps in touch with the community through social media and eNews updates and coordinates our events and volunteer opportunities. She also maintains the website and supports member engagement. When Teresa’s not remodeling her Medford home, she loves getting out and exploring the region, taking graphic design classes at RCC, and volunteering for the Native Plant Society as the Siskiyou Chapter Secretary.
Alex Liston Dykema, Attorney
Alex has been involved with Southern Oregon Land Conservancy for over twenty years. Even after relocating out of the area, he continues to serve as our Staff Attorney, helping negotiate transactions, drafting documents, and providing legal support and counseling. Alex also consults with other land trusts on organizational and transactional issues. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his two sons and wife.
Karen Hussey, Land Steward
Karen is a wildlife biologist who has lived in the Rogue Valley since 2009 and joined the Land Conservancy staff in 2016. She works with landowners to help them meet their conservation goals and ensure conserved lands are well-cared for. She also serves on the board of the Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society. When not working, you can find her hiking, kayaking, skiing, birding, or photographing in this beautiful region we call home.
Leslie van Gelder, Office Manager & Bookkeeper
Leslie has worked for SOLC since 2005as Office Manager and Bookkeeper (except for 2 years when she worked from home as a contracted bookkeeper). She has lived in Southern Oregon since 1974 and has worked in non-profit administration and finance for most of those years. In her spare time, she loves gardening, walking, camping, and spending time with family.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Southern Oregon Land Conservancy’s board is comprised of 12 individuals who set the strategic direction of the organization. Each member brings her or his knowledge and experience to guide planning, fundraising and outreach, organizational structure, finance, and so much more. They represent many of the diverse communities and constituents that make up our region.
Comprised of 12 community leaders, the Trustee Council provides sage advice and support to further Southern Oregon Land Conservancy’s mission. They are the movers and shakers in our communities who help broaden our support base through their vast and varied personal connections and professional networks.