Jeff Tryens - the people behind SPRD
Last updated 12/20/2022 at Noon
Jeff Tryens grew up on the East Coast, and worked in Washington D.C. and Massachusetts as everything from a policy consultant to a deputy director of program activities for national public policy organization in the 1970s. He made the move to Oregon in the 1990s.
Tyrens currently serves on the board of directors for Sisters Park & Recreation District (SPRD).
Tryens lived in Oregon off and on for 30 years before returning to school on the East Coast at 49 years old. He went to the Kennedy School at Harvard to receive his master’s degree in public administration.
“I had been doing the same job for so long, the thinking part of my brain wasn’t being used as much, so I decided to go back to school to receive my master’s,” he said.
Tryens focused on how to replicate innovative programs for organizations. After receiving his degree, he began his career working with nonprofits as the executive director of the Oregon Progress Board in Salem. He worked closely on directing the state board responsible for oversight of Oregon’s strategic vision, Oregon Shines, which was the vision plan in the early 2000s.
“That vision really focused on Oregon’s livability and the long-term vision for Oregon at the time,” said Tryens.
During his time with the Oregon Progress Board, he received an invitation to speak to groups about aspects of strategic planning and visions for their organizations.
Tryens was was invited to join the board of the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau.
Tryens’ work sparked an interest in learning how they run a parks district, and how he might be able to aid with program management and strategic visions.
Over time, Tryens’ and his partner Patricia Cusick’s friends began moving from the Willamette Valley to a little town called Sisters. In the 2000s Tryens was contracted to work in South Australia doing the same thing he was doing for the Oregon Progress Board for areas in South Australia.
“When we came back to Portland, we visited our friends in this small town and wanted to move there too; it was a beautiful place and our friends were already here,” he said.
Tryens has been living in Sisters for eight years now and serving with SPRD since 2016. He joined SPRD initially as a volunteer, based on his work with Portland Rec; he wanted to get involved. Tryens helped with SPRD’s strategic plan in 2016, and when the ballot came out in 2017, many of the community members wrote in Tryens to serve on the board as an elected official. He served as board president for a couple years and is currently serving as vice president.
“The great thing about SPRD, is (it is) an independent entity. It gets its funding from taxpayers and we as board members get to plot the direction of the organization without worrying about the politics higher up,” he said.
Tryens’ role as vice president is to get people involved and be sure people have every opportunity of learning who we are and what we do. Tryens also works on the strategic plan and vision for the future of SPRD.
“We really try to engage with the community at large. As a board we want to emphasize what we sponsor, like the car show, parade, and just letting people know what we are involved in as much as possible,” said Tryens.
Moving to Sisters allowed Tryens to get involved with horses. He works with endurance horses and participates in competitions, and at 76 years old, he is a proud endurance rider.
Editor's note: This story has been edited to correct a misquote. Tryens was invited to join the board of the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau; he was not head of that bureau.