Meet the TKO Board!
Tom is a founding member of TKO and has served in a variety of board positions over the years in helping get TKO established. Tom grew up in Oregon and has been hiking since he learned to walk, thanks to an outdoors-oriented family life. Through TKO, he’s passionate about giving today’s young families the same amazing experiences he had as a youngster growing up in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest.
Tom has worked as a city planner in the Portland area for 30 years and spends whatever time he can find exploring the trails of Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. Local hikers also know Tom as the resident “Splintercat” on TKO’s Oregon Hikers online forum and field guide. Tom is also the author behind the WyEast Blog and an advocate for new national parks in Oregon.
Paul joined the board in 2014. He is a freelance writer, author, publisher, and tour guide. He has written for The Oregonian and Willamette Week, and more than 300 travel and food articles for the Memphis Flyer before moving to Oregon in 1996.
Hikers know Paul for the hiking and camping guidebooks he has written for Menasha Ridge Press and Wilderness Press, especially 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Portland. Portlanders also know him for his all-breakfast guide to Portland, Breakfast in Bridgetown.
Paul also leads hiking and touring trips to Italy each year for Portland-based Embark Adventures, bringing his love of hiking and good food together.
Schuyler Warren – Board Treasurer
Schuyler joined the board of TKO in 2016 shortly after returning to Oregon from Kentucky, where he worked for an environmental education non-profit and served on the board of an urban trails organization. An urban planner and landscape architect by training, he currently works as a planner for a small city near Portland.
Schuyler spends much of his free time with family and friends hiking, camping, and marveling at plant life across Oregon’s wilderness and parklands. On the few occasions that the weather is not agreeable for outdoor exploring, he’s probably at a table playing board games with friends.
Emily Swensen – Board Secretary
Emily joined the TKO board in 2016. She was born and raised in the heart of the Columbia Gorge where she grew up hiking, camping, skiing and spending lots of time in and on the water. She continues to devote as much of her free time as possible to hiking and backpacking.
Emily is a member of the Oregon State Bar with a background in developing and strengthening nonprofits. She has helped mission-oriented groups incorporate and secure 501(c)(3) status, build strong organizational structures and develop policies and procedures that minimize risk and maximize effectiveness.
Emily joined the TKO board in response to Oregon’s growing population straining our statewide trail system, and she is passionate about supporting TKO’s efforts to keep it thriving, safe and accessible to all.
Cheryl Hill – Board Member
Cheryl has been an active member of the Oregon Hikers forum since 2006 and joined the board in 2016. She is an author, hiker, photographer, and fire lookout enthusiast. She has been hiking since childhood thanks to outdoor-loving parents, and during hiking season spends most of her spare time camping, hiking, and backpacking.
A lifelong history buff, she is the author of Arcadia Publishing’s Mount Hood National Forest and Fire Lookouts of Oregon. She works as a librarian in the Portland area and is a voracious reader. Cheryl keeps a website where you can learn more about her adventures at: www.cherylhill.net.
John Sparks – Board Member
John joined the Trailkeepers board in 2016. He spent two years in the Peace Corps (Yemen) after graduating from the University of Oregon. After several years working and traveling overseas, he settled in Portland in the late 1980s – and has been hiking the area ever since!
On the Oregon Hikers Forum, John posts as ‘bobcat’ and is known for his extensive knowledge of our local fauna and flora. He keeps notes of every hike and has translated many of them into his popular entries in the Oregon Hikers Field Guide. To date, John has added more than 300 new hikes to the field guide, with many more to come.
Cody Simmonds – Board Member
Cody has been a volunteer and board member with TKO since 2016. Originally from Texas, Cody relocated to the Pacific Northwest in 2015 where he enjoys hiking, camping, and snowboarding.
Cody is a marketing consultant and business strategist whose expertise includes branding, advertising and research. Cody joined TKO to contribute his experience to the preservation of Oregon’s beauty by spreading TKO’s mission to a wider range of hikers and nature enthusiasts.
Curtis Smith – Board Member
Curtis serves on the board as Head Crew Leader for TKO and continues to lead projects for us, often focusing on the west side of the Metro region. He has spent hundreds of hours scouting and leading trail stewardship projects for our young organization.
Curtis has several years of experience in trail design and maintenance and project management on trail work with TKO and other trail groups in Oregon.
Elaine Keavney – Board Member
Elaine Keavney joined the board in December 2016. She is a registered nurse who spent her clinical years primarily in the emergency department. Later, she became a nurse educator and worked both in clinical and online academic education, where she still works part time.
Elaine and her husband Pat have worked with Washington Trails Association for several years before becoming active in TKO. In November 2016 Elaine received her 100-day award from WTA. For the last year, she and Pat have worked as TKO trail stewards, organizing at least 2 work parties each month on trails here on the Oregon side of the river.
Elaine is a Portland native who grew up hiking in the Gorge. She still likes to hike but most of her outdoor time is spent working on trails. When she’s not on the trail, she enjoys fiber arts such as spinning and knitting, gardening, and spending time with her 6 young grandchildren, all of whom currently live in the greater Portland area.
Our Advisory Council
Jeff is the founder of TKO. After launching the Oregon Hikers forum (originally called Portland Hikers) with his friend Jeff Black, Jeff was looking for a way to give back to the community — a counterpoint to the focus of the Oregon Hikers forum, which is centered on exploring and enjoying our amazing legacy of trails.
On the way home from what would become TKO’s founding stewardship trip in September 2007 — an impromptu project to save a “lost trail” on Mount Hood’s Vista Ridge — Jeff proposed an organization meeting of like-minded individuals and organizations to explore the possibility of forming a trail stewardship nonprofit in Oregon. Jeff’s vision was to mirror the success of the Washington Trails Association and organized the formal kickoff meeting in October 2007.
After several years of serving as the founding Board President, Jeff turned over the reins, but his vision for the organization endures with Jeff helping out from time to time as TKO continues to grow and evolve. Jeff also oversees our stewardship program, where he coordinates our field work with public land managers, recruits and trains TKO crew leaders and volunteers, and helps other trail groups in hands-on projects.
From the beginning as part of TKO’s first impromptu trail outing, Jamie has been the graphic and marketing brain behind TKO. Jamie developed our cool logo, the look of our first website and each year he has compiled dozens of photos submitted on the forum to create our beautiful Oregon Hikers Calendar — our main fundraiser each year. Jamie continues to support TKO whenever we need a design professional to help us look as sharp online as our tools are on the trail!
Jane Garbisch – Board Advisor (and founding board member)
Jane has been part of the Portland Hikers community and TKO since their inception. Her combined passion for hiking and enthusiasm for sharing outdoors opportunities with others keeps her involved pushing up her sleeves behind the scenes, organizing events, and getting on the trail whenever she can.
Jane wears other volunteer hats, too, including being a member and leading hikes for Friends of the Gorge, Trails Club of Oregon, and involvement in many groups and committees in her profession. Jane holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health Science and Environmental Studies, and has been self-employed as a Licensed Massage Therapist for 23 years.
Alex Brown – Board Advisor (and past board president)
Alex is a native Portlander who grew up hiking and camping in the Mt. Hood National Forest. As an activist, Alex worked for Oregon Wild for five years helping to mount a successful wilderness campaign. Since 2006, he has served as executive director for Bark, a grassroots organization whose mission is to protect the natural and cultural landscapes of the Mt. Hood National Forest.
Alex helped the original TKO board develop its first strategic plan in 2009, and later joined the board and served as president as TKO gained its footing as a new nonprofit. When not advocating for our forests, Alex spends his time exploring lesser-known corners of the Mount Hood backcountry.
Renee has been a part of TKO since the beginning and is one of the original board members. Her enthusiasm for the outdoors and hiking can be felt the moment you meet her and helped the TKO board get through many long organization meetings during our start up phase!
As the Project Manager for Towns to Trails, a campaign being led by Friends of the Columbia Gorge, she brings a wealth of connections and opportunities for new trail work and maintenance that will keep TKO busy for years to come! If you don’t find Renee on the trail, you can be sure to find her advocating for trails and long term protection to keep them in place all around the state.
Ron is a founding member of the TKO board and served until January 2014. He is also a former Board President, succeeding Jeff Statt. Ron brought experience managing other small nonprofits to TKO and helped the organization move through the many legal hoops that are part of becoming a nonprofit. Ron also brought an invaluable crew of volunteers to TKO, helping to establish our stewardship program and first website.
Ron not only brings stewardship and non-profit experience to TKO, he is also an advocate for historic resources on our public lands, and helped form public-private partnerships to preserve part of the rapidly fading legacy of Depression-era Forest Service structures.
Ryan joined the TKO board in 2008, shortly after we had formed. Ryan brought a critical background in trail stewardship that he had gained while working for the Northwest Youth Corps. He eventually served as TKO’s Board President before stepping down in 2011.
Ryan is the Southwest Washington coordinator for the Washington Trails Association (WTA) and continues to help coordinate bi-state projects with TKO in the Columbia River Gorge.
Dan is TKO’s go-to man for our web operations, including the back end of the Oregon Hikers forum and the continued evolution of the Oregon Hiker’s Field Guide. Dan was the guiding force behind the wiki-style field guide format and continues to oversee its evolution as a user-driven resource for hikers.
Dan has been with TKO from the beginning and was among the “Gang of Eleven” on that first impromptu trail tending project on Mount Hood. He continues to trouble-shoot our web operations as a friend of the TKO Board.
Cindy served on the TKO board as treasurer in 2014-15. She has been the fiscal manager for a local non-profit for the past 18 years, and has also put those skills to work as treasurer for both TKO and the Trails Club of Oregon, where she has been a member since 2010. She is also active with Multnomah County Search and Rescue.
Cindy has an Environmental Science degree and is an avid hiker, backpacker and snowshoer — and she can usually be found doing at least one of these on most weekends!
Tom grew up on his grandfather’s beet farm near Rochester, New York, where he became accustomed to long days and red hands. In 2002, Tom joined the Northwest Youth Corps (NYC), first as a crew leader and later as a Woodsboss and Program Coordinator in NYC’s Youth Corps department. Prior to NYC, Tom worked with the Youth Corps of Southern Arizona, the Pinnacles National Monument Trail Crew in California and as a timber framer in Vermont. He joined the TKO board in late 2013 and served through 2015, bringing a long-sought connection between TKO and the NYC.
Tom earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Natural Resources from Paul Smiths College in Upstate New York. When not working, he enjoys free heeling, good music, running a chainsaw, moving rocks, hiking, riding his bike and parkour.
Jeff grew up in Pennsylvania, where he fell in love with backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. He is a member of the executive committee of the Trails Club of Oregon and is active in the maintenance of the club’s Nesika Lodge and area trails in the Columbia River Gorge. Since 2006, he has also been an active hike leader in the Portland Hiking Meetup Group. As a trail steward, Jeff has volunteered with PCTA and TKO maintenance crews and with the Forest Park Conservancy.
Jeff is an avid hiker, kayaker and backpacker and enjoys off-trail treks and exploring old logging roads. He also publishes a blog on lightweight backpacking gear (GramGeek.com). Jeff has a BA in Management and Organizational Leadership and likes to bike commute to his job as a software developer for the Oregon Health Authority in Portland.