News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters Trails Alliance names new director

Sisters Trails Alliance has selected a new executive director. Stephanie Presley came on board as of May 6.

Presley brings years of experience leading volunteer organizations and community coalitions, working with boards of directors and collaborating with local, state, and federal stakeholders on a wide range of projects and programs.

"The board is delighted to welcome Stephanie as our new executive director," said STA board chair Forest Tancer. "We are fortunate to have someone of her caliber and experience who shares our passion for STA's mission to enhance the outdoor experience in Sisters Country. Stephanie will be an inspiring leader to continue to strengthen our multi-use trails system and our commitment to conservation and preservation of our environment."

Stephanie, her husband Nate, and 10-year-old daughter Arya moved to Sisters in August 2023, settling in Tollgate. The previous 15 years they lived outside Seward, Alaska, where Presley worked for the Kenai Peninsula borough (county) in natural hazard mitigation, and resource and project management.

Nate and Stephanie moved to Alaska in 2008 where they purchased remote property outside Seward, which is a town about the size of Sisters. They logged their property, and built their cabin. While in Seward, Stephanie volunteered as chair of the Seward Prevention Coalition and served as the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Deputy Commander for Cadets, drawing on her first career with the Oregon Social Learning Center, where she developed therapies for working with families on a positive behavior project.

Presley had her pilot's license and participated in air search and rescue. She took youth cadets, age 16 and up, to a 10-day glider academy three different years and had the opportunity to fly gliders. By the time she completed her stint with the CAP, they had 80 volunteers, 12 staff members, and a $15 million budget.

In her position in natural hazard mitigation, she worked on all types of natural disasters including erosion, flooding, and landslides. In the Kenai Peninsula borough, there are 13 watersheds, 10 of which they were responsible to maintain.

Presley grew up in Mariposa, California, in the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the base of Yosemite National Park. Many of her favorite memories are from that time in her life. Her first two years of high school she attended the local school. Her last two years she attended Idyllwild Arts Academy in the San Jacinto mountains, adjacent to the Pacific Crest Trail. The academy offers intensive specialized arts training and challenging college-prep academics to talented young artists from around the world. She specialized in theater.

In 1997, Stephanie graduated from the University of Oregon where she majored in sociology and psychology before working at the Oregon Social Learning Center.

The family's move back to Oregon was motivated by family living in the area and wanting a good education for Arya. While in Alaska, Arya won swimming championships, specializing in the backstroke. She was the under-eight overall champion with four golds and one silver medal. Since arriving in Sisters, she has started playing the ukulele, singing, and doing gymnastics. Nate is self-employed.

In November 2023, the family took a seven-week trip to Indonesia and Australia, returning just prior to Christmas. They enjoy exploring, rafting, and hiking and spent spring break at Hart Mountain hot springs.

Presley feels this place and this position are the right fit. She will be "able to utilize my varied skill sets while bringing the community together around common goals." She hopes to grow STA youth programs and attract a broader range of people to engage in STA. She looks forward to working with the Sisters Ranger District.

Since coming to work, she has spent her time meeting as many people as possible, assessing the STA programs and what the needs are, as well as looking at how STA can work with the Forest Service. She looks forward to undertaking a visioning process.

Presley mentioned the approaching National Trails Day, the first Saturday in June (June 1) which recognizes the benefits provided by federal, state, and local trails for recreation and exposure to nature. STA will be providing information on their website where you can also join their mailing list.

Presley's position is part-time at 20 hours a week, as is that of new volunteer/events coordinator, Eric Benedon. Presley can be reached at [email protected] and Eric at [email protected].


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