Currently, our working Board of Directors is comprised of 8 community members committed to our mission to protect, preserve, and restore diverse ecosystems in and around Olympia, Washington. We have up to 5 additional Board positions open and welcome applications from people of all backgrounds and perspectives.
President and Restoration Committee
Sarah is the president of the Board of Directors for Olympia Ecosystems, and serves on the Restoration Committee. She is passionate about conserving pockets of wilderness within our urban environments, where ecological, social and educational priorities can all be met through easily accessible restoration, recreation and outdoor learning.
Outside of her role with OlyEcosystems, Sarah is the Director of Science for Ecostudies Institute, a conservation non-profit based in Washington. Her work is aimed at researching and restoring rare species habitat in Pacific Northwest ecosystems using rigorous science and careful conservation planning. She is involved in all stages of the restoration process, with the goal of developing the most effective techniques to restore resilient and diverse above- and below-ground communities. Sarah holds a B.A. in Biology from Wittenberg University and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Colorado State University. Sarah is also an adjunct professor at The Evergreen State College, where she teaches in the Master of Environmental Studies program, and she serves as the Chair of the Research and Plant Inventory Committee for the Washington Native Plant Society. Whenever possible, she is out exploring the rugged mountains, ancient rivers and deep green forests of the PNW with her husband and tireless pup.
Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair
Heather is OlyEcosystems Treasurer and chair of the Finance Committee. As a labor economist with several years’ experience working in regulatory issues, Heather has worked with a variety of policy organizations, and has written and managed several research grants. She became even more interested in ecological issues through her study of occupational safety, health and stress where larger environmental concerns are vital to human well-being. Her position as Professor of Economics at Saint Martin’s University led her to develop courses in Cost-Benefit Analysis and Ecological Economics, popular additions for students in the Environmental Studies program and business programs. Heather is currently the Benefit Cost Lead for the Washington State Institute for Public Policy which performs non-partisan and nationally recognized analyses of public policy at the request of the State legislature. Heather received her PhD in economics from the University of Notre Dame in 1998.
Secretary and Restoration Committee Chair
Gabriel Taylor is Secretary for Olympia Ecosystems and a Licensed Engineering Geologist who specializes in natural hazard mitigation and earthwork construction. Gabe also is the Chair of our Restoration Committee where he is in charge of planning and coordinating the restoration actions, including regular volunteer work parties across our four preserves. Gabe holds a B.A. from the Evergreen State College and a B.S. from Western Washington University. His combined education in the humanities and earth sciences has instilled in him a sense of responsibility to participate in the mitigation or reversal of the environmental degradation he has witnessed over his lifetime.
Gabriel has been working at the Washington State Department of Transportation since 2005, primarily as a landslide and rockfall specialist. His professional background in applied science and engineering allows him to provide practical and technical assistance to OlyEcosystems in their efforts to restore and conserve local habitat and ecosystems. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors and is a member of the Restoration Committee and the Conservation Committee.
Gabriel is a musician, mountaineer, backpacker, bicyclist, and general outdoor enthusiast. He has a deep appreciation of the Pacific Northwest landscape and the wide array of habitat contained therein. He is also a husband and father. He is dedicated to doing his part to ensure that a livable world is passed on to the next generation, and share his appreciation of wilderness and nature with others. Through his efforts to conserve and restore West Bay Woods, Gabriel hopes to provide a wild and green space for Northwest neighborhood residents, or visitors, to find some quiet and solace. He works with OlyEcosystems with the hope that these efforts will provide a healthy forest for neighborhood children to explore, so they might nurture their own appreciation for nature, learn from the example provided by adults, and develop into responsible stewards of the environment.
Vice President and Finance Committee
Diane is OlyEcosystems Vice President and serves on the Finance Committee. She’s an experienced business owner and consultant with expertise in accounting systems and organizational growth and development. She earned a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Puget Sound, an M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Washington, and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Psychology. A systems thinker with experience in education and technical communication, Diane owned University Tutoring Service in Seattle, was the Learning Services Director at Annie Wright Upper School for Girls, and currently serves as the Head of Education for Seattle Sounders FC. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and she’s always been happiest while active and outside. She’s motivated to work for all kids, big and small, to have open, green space for play, exploration, and improved mental health.
Tanya has been a lawyer in Olympia since 1987. She represented the Department of Ecology until 1999, then moved to the private firm now known as Cascadia Law Group, where she practices environmental law. Having grown up in the Midwest, Tanya considers herself lucky to live here. She has an abiding appreciation for the mountains, waters, forests, and other natural wonders of the Northwest. Tanya received her law degree from the University of Oregon and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa. She serves as the legal advisor to Empowerment4Girls, a nonprofit based in Olympia whose mission is to help girls cultivate confidence, develop skills that support their well-being, and become advocates for themselves and others.
A Northwest native, Marijean Holland is an OlyEcosystems Founding Board Member and currently serves on the Finance Committee. Her awareness of ecosystems’ importance increased when the Pacific Great Blue Heron, red fox, and other wildlife in her Northwest Olympia backyard became threatened by pending land development.
Marijean recently retired from her position as a Program Manager for the State of Washington Office of Insurance Commissioner. Previously, Marijean taught Quality Improvement Strategies for Xerox Corporation and Group Health Cooperative. Marijean is an alumna of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.
Based on many years of both professional and personal experience, Marijean believes a collaborative approach to problem-solving can result in a positive outcome for our community – allowing for a thriving ecosystem in our urban environment. In her leisure time, Marijean can be found with friends and family exploring beaches, hiking, biking, and swatting the occasional tennis ball.
Lynne is a professional writer/editor and educator. Most recently she worked for the Washington State Department of Ecology in the Water Resources Program, writing on water quantity issues. She describes her role as that of a “translator”: the go-between the scientists and the general public. Lynne has applied her skills and talents as a writer/editor in a variety of settings including a national historic site, a national fund-raising organization and a software development company. Her other love is teaching. She taught first and fourth grades in the Boston public school system; college-level writing and vocabulary at South Puget Sound Community College; and frequently tutors English-as-a-second-language students.
Anne Van Sweringen
Anne is excited to join the board. She received a bachelor's in Wildlife Biology from the University of Vermont in 1982. In the 1980s, her early experiences included field work to reintroduce a bald eagle and peregrine falcons, and participating in surveys locating timber wolf in northern Idaho and peregrine falcon populations in Utah and Arizona. After four years with The Nature Conservancy's Science Department (now NatureServe) and the MD Field Office, she became an environmental planner for six years in two county governments in Maryland and DC.
In 1996, Anne moved to Olympia, WA to start a consulting business as a planning biologist and technical writer. She received a Master’s in Environmental Studies from The Evergreen State College in 2003. She wrote a pioneering thesis on the role of dinoflagellate cysts in PSP toxicity of geoduck clams in Puget Sound, in which UW-Tacoma received a NOAA grant to conduct the work in Puget Sound.
For twelve years, Anne was an RCO technical reviewer and evaluator for grant proposal presentations for the WWRP Habitat, Natural Areas, Riparian, and Urban Wildlife Habitat categories. She was a land steward, board member, and member of Capital Land Trust's Lands Committee. For the Black Hills Audubon Society she served as a board member and newsletter editor, and remains on the BHAS Conservation Committee. She has represented five Thurston County environmentally-oriented nonprofits on the Thurston Shoreline Master Program Update process. Anne is also a WDFW Wildlife Diversity Advisory Council member.