The Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club is excited to welcome to new staff to our team this spring!
Rhett Lawrence is the Conservation Director for the Oregon Chapter, having started in that role in February 2013. A Sierra Club member since 1990, Rhett was deeply involved in volunteer activities and Club outings when he lived in south Georgia in the 1990s. He was the Georgia Chapter’s issue leader for the Okefenokee Swamp and fought vigorously in an ultimately successful effort to stop the DuPont Corporation from building a titanium mine on the edge of the Okefenokee. Rhett was also heavily involved in the chapter’s efforts around the Cumberland Island National Seashore and the conflicts with the wilderness area there.
A native of South Carolina, Rhett received a B.A. in English and Philosophy from Emory University in Atlanta and a J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law in Athens. After law school, he worked for Georgia Legal Services in Waycross, Georgia, for 5 years and had the honor of arguing one of his cases in front of the Georgia Supreme Court (he won!). Then, after several years of practicing environmental law in Savannah, Georgia, Rhett moved to Oregon in 2000 to head up the Clean Water and Toxics programs for OSPIRG. Just prior to coming to the Oregon Chapter, Rhett was a Policy Analyst for the Save Our Wild Salmon coalition for 6 years. In that capacity, he worked on a campaign to restore endangered Columbia and Snake River salmon by removing the costly and outdated lower Snake River dams in eastern Washington.
Before the birth of his daughter, Camille, in 2005, Rhett was involved in many outdoor activities, some of which he still finds time to do now, between swim classes, soccer games, and Girl Scout meetings. Rhett and his wife, LeeAnn Friedman, enjoy taking Camille out on hikes, bike rides, and the occasional paddle on the Columbia Slough in their 16-foot green Coleman canoe. And though Rhett’s primary mountain climbing days seem to be behind him now, he still maintains that he will return to the summit of Mt. Hood with Camille for his 50th birthday in 2018.
Contact Chris at:
(503) 238-0442 x304
Chris Smith, State Forest Organizer
Chris works as the Conservation Program Coordinator for the Oregon Chapter’s state forest conservation effort. Focusing on the Tillamook and Clatsop forests on Oregon’s north coast, the campaign’s focus is on protecting clean drinking water, salmon and steelhead populations, wildlife habitat, and favorite recreation spots.
These forests, which have historically faced significant pressure from the timber industry and have been victim to human-induced fires, are in the process of recovery and their balanced management is crucial to the north coast’s legacy of natural resources and natural beauty.
Growing up in the high desert of New Mexico, Chris moved to Oregon in 2005 for a radically different landscape. He received his B.A. in Religious Studies from Lewis & Clark College in 2009 and ironically moved to Greece to find work. After returning from Greece, Chris organized for the Club’s voter turnout campaign in 2010 before working as a cook at Outdoor School and as an artist’s assistant building a giant tree chandelier. In 2011, He moved to Chicago to enroll in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. The draw of working on a collaborative campaign, along with the outdoors opportunities that Oregon offers, brought Chris back to Portland in 2012.
Along with environmentalism, Chris is interested in the academic study of religion, literature from a variety of sociocultural contexts, grating music, embarrassing fishing tactics, low-level rec league sports, friends, and the outdoors.
Contact Chris at:
(503) 238-0442 x307