Changes on our team: Welcome Natalie and Alaina

Changes on our team: Welcome Natalie and Alaina

Conservation Northwest / Nov 17, 2015 / Work Updates

Our staff, including a few new faces. Photo: Paul Bannick

We’re excited to announce that we have some new staff members at Conservation Northwest!

Joining us in our Seattle Office are Natalie Doerr, Foundation Relations Manager, and Alaina Kowitz, Communications and Outreach Associate. 

Natalie will be leading our grant applications and building relationships with foundations that support our conservation work. Alaina will be supporting our communications efforts, including social media, our newsletters and action alerts, as well as leading our outreach, events and community engagement efforts to spread the word about our work to keep the Northwest wild!

Learn more about our new staffers below or check out our Staff page for their official biographies. And keep an eye out for a follow-up post coming soon announcing some more exciting changes on our team!

Natalie Doerr, Foundation Relations Manager

Where are you from and how long have you lived in the Northwest?

I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona. I moved to Redmond, Washington in 2009. I also spent one blissful year in Washington in 2001, serving as an Americorps intern in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

How did you get started in grant writing?

I got my start in graduate school. I was studying the behavioral ecology of great bowerbirds in Australia, and I needed funding to support my research. I applied for many grants and fellowships during that time. Grant writing is challenging, but it helped me in so many ways. Like all types of writing, grant writing helps you organize your thoughts and work through difficult concepts and ideas. Although you always wish the money would just fall out of the skies, ultimately the process itself is valuable and improves your thinking and your work.

Why Conservation Northwest? What about this organization appeals to you?

I am amazed at how much Conservation Northwest has accomplished over the years. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all of the environmental problems we face, and I can feel a little hopeless. But this is a group of people who doesn’t take “no” for an answer. It is so inspiring to be part of a group that believes change is possible AND that has a long track record showing it is possible. I love being surrounded by hope, positivity, and action.

What are you most excited about in this new role?

I am excited to learn everything I can about the organization and its programs, and to communicate clearly and passionately to our supporters.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for keeping the Northwest wild?

Like many people, I see climate change as the biggest challenge. We know it’s coming, but we don’t know the exact timing, severity, or effects. It is hard to know how to prepare under these conditions. Thankfully, Conservation Northwest’s focus on connecting and protecting landscapes should allow many species to move to new homes if things heat up. The group has been discussing new ways to respond to climate change, so I imagine we will be hearing more about that soon.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

Lots of things! I like to cook, garden, hike, and travel. I am also an avid birder, and I continue my research on bowerbirds whenever I have the chance to slip off to Australia.

Who is your environmental hero?

Lately I’ve been reading about Alfred Russel Wallace, who co-discovered the theory of evolution by natural selection with Darwin. He was an amazing field biologist, spending years alone in the Amazon and Malay Archipelago. I admire his field skills, his creativity, and his ability to get a lot done with limited resources.

A bower bird outside his bower. Photo: Natalie Doerr

Alaina Kowitz, Communications and Outreach Associate

Where are you from and how long have you lived in the Northwest?

I’m from Northeast Washington; I grew up in Ferry County outside of Kettle Falls. I went to Gonzaga University in Spokane, got my undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies, and just moved to Seattle in September to work for CNW. Even though I’m on the Westside now (and loving it!), I’m an Eastern Washingtonian at heart.

How did you get started in communications?

I’ve always loved writing. As a kid I would write nonstop, but it took me a long time to figure out that there were ways to incorporate writing into a career. Once I realized that writing is a valuable component in communications work I started looking for avenues to do it. I took writing classes, did communications for Gonzaga’s sustainability department, and tried my hand at blogging (mostly about wolves). When I found this job position, which paired up communications and conservation advocacy, it felt like the perfect fit.

Why Conservation Northwest? What about this organization appeals to you?

I became familiar with Conservation Northwest when I started following gray wolf recovery in my neck of the woods in Northeast Washington. I thought it was a fascinating, complex issue that Conservation Northwest was handling with impressive pragmatism, and I admired that. The more I learn about this organization the more I realize how strategic and thoughtful it is in the way it approaches issues in our region. I love that CNW has a concentrated focus on local issues in our state, and makes it a priority to engage with communities and stakeholders in the areas who are affected by our work.

What are you most excited about in this new role?

I’m excited to have the opportunity to write and communicate about the issues that we work on and help build support for our projects through education and engaging our supporters. In addition to that, the people who make CNW so successful are incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about their work, and I want to learn as much as I can from them while offering my own strengths and passion to the organization.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for keeping the Northwest wild?

Habitat loss and fragmentation are umbrella issues that affect all other aspects of our mission. Without sufficient habitat, we lose not only spaces for wildlife to thrive but also ecosystem health, undeveloped recreational areas, and our natural heritage that makes our region so great.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working? 

I love to read, write, hike, and play piano. I’m also learning how to play the accordion, an endeavor that I’m enjoying (I’m not sure my roommates do, though). I’m looking forward to getting to know Seattle and taking advantage of the plethora of outdoor activities outside the city, too. Running relaxes me, and playing trivia is my idea of an evening well spent (especially if my team wins).

Who is your environmental hero?

Although she wasn’t involved in the environmental movement, Julia Child has always deeply inspired me. Her autobiography changed my life in making me reassess how I view challenges and informed me on what it means to live well and embrace life to the fullest. She was determined, joyful, passionate about her work, and unabashedly herself, and those traits are so valuable in any field of work or aspect of life.

Bear in the backyard in northeast Washington. Photo: Alaina Kowitz