Kristen Walz,
Executive Director

Kristen was born and raised in Iowa. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology at Portland State University. Kristen moved to Eastern Oregon after working in the Bering Sea as a marine fisheries biologist. She joined the Council in 2017 as a Restoration Project Coordinator. Since then she has taken on the roles as Restoration Program Coordinator and JDBP Coordinator. Kristen has a passion for conservation. She values creating partnerships with a variety of stakeholders as the Council works to implement programs that restore and protect the North Fork John Day River watershed. In her free time, Kristen can be found exploring the beautiful, rugged Eastern Oregon landscape with her husband and their dogs.

Valeen Madden, Operations Manager

Valeen grew up in Grant County and brings a wealth of local knowledge to the council. She started her journey with the North Fork John Day Watershed Council in June 2009 as Business Manager, and has continued to serve the Council in many roles including: Private Lands Project Coordinator, Assistant Executive Director, and Executive Director. She moved into the position of Operations Manager in July 2021. She has a drive for being a team player and is always willing to answer a call for help. Valeen’s hobbies are spending time with her family, spending time outdoors and reading, when she can find the time.

Kaysi Dean, 
Business Manager

Kaysi is from a rural community in central west Texas. She attended Texas A&M University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science. Since graduating from college she has worked in many fields including: livestock show production, marine biology education, office management, and hospitality. She moved to Grant County in the fall of 2019. Kaysi spends her free time outside as much as possible; hiking, gardening, and spending time with her boyfriend and their dogs, Luna and Trigger.

Javan Bailey,
Project Manager

Originally from Port Angeles, WA, Javan joined the Watershed Council in order to focus her efforts on local restoration work in aquatic environments. She brings a diverse background in fisheries and water quality monitoring and research gained through working for several state and federal agencies and universities, mostly in the Pacific Northwest. In her free time she enjoys exploring the great outdoors through a variety of activities. 

Alex Rice,
Project Manager

Alex grew up in a military family, moving from place to place on a regular basis. Oregon is his ninth state of residence along with two other countries. He has a bachelor’s degree in natural resources management from Colorado State University and a master’s degree in forestry from Michigan Tech. Alex is passionate about conservation, ecological restoration, and working with landowners and local communities. He has worked in a variety of ecosystems from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Lakes and the Marshes of Louisiana and is very excited to get to work in and learn about the people and lands comprising the North Fork John Day Watershed. In his spare time he likes to read and get outdoors as much as possible. 

Join Our Team

NFJDWC Board of Directors

Ed Farren - Board Chairman,  Eugene, OR

Ed is retired from his career as a hydrologist with the U.S. Forest Service. He spent his later career on the Umatilla National Forest and has extensive background and knowledge in both restoration and local conditions.

​John Zakrajsek - Treasurer,  La Grande, OR

John is a biologist with the Umatilla Tribes. He brings a vast knowledge of project implementation and support to the project. His background will assure financial efficiency for the Council.

​Amy Charette - Secretary,  John Day, OR

Amy served as Executive Director of the North Fork John Day Watershed Council from 7/2008-4/2011. She currently holds the position of Watershed Restoration Coordinator for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Amy holds a Master of Science in Marine Biology and Coastal Zone Management.

Rick Henslee - Director,  Long Creek, OR

Rick is a life-long resident of Grant County and of the Long Creek watershed. He is a rancher who directs a natural beef cooperative and sits on the Grant County Soil and Water Conservation District board. He has spent a lifetime of observing the landscape and citizens of the local community while doing all he could to help them.

Reiba Carter Smith - Director,  Long Creek, OR

Reiba is a retired teacher who supports our education and outreach operations. She has taught and helped to raise many of the residents of our immediate area. She has a deep awareness of the strengths and conflicts for the local population.

​Mark Reitman - Director,  Heppner, OR

Mark runs a ranch in the northwest portion of our community. He is a long-term volunteer in his home town and will reach out to those members of the community that are geographically somewhat distant.

Karen Flagg- Director,  Pendleton, OR

Karen grew up in California, exploring the Sierras and deserts of the region.  In 1999 Karen and Don founded Growing Solutions Restoration Education Institute to inspire and teach students how to improve environmental health. As an instructor at Santa Barbara City College Karen has had the opportunity to work with many students, encouraging them to choose a career in natural resources. 

​Don Hartley - Director,  Pendleton, OR

Don was born in San Diego California.  In 1997 Don began teaching at Santa Barbara City College, met Karen and they founded Growing Solutions Restoration Education Institute. He has been involved in restoration projects for the last twenty years with a focus on producing native plants. Currently, Don and Karen manage timber, grassland and farmland in Northeastern Oregon.

Partners and Funders

Autzen Foundation
Blue Mountain Land Trust
Collins Foundation
Cycle Oregon
East Cascades Audubon Society
Ecotrust Forest Management
OWF logo PMS7739
Rocky Mountain Elk Initiative
trail blazers