Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust Staff

Caitlin Ames, Stewardship & Outreach Associate

Caitlin Ames holds a BA in International Politics with a minor in sustainable development. Her studies guided her interest in small scale agriculture, which brought her to the Land Trust in 2016. Outside of work, Caitlin sits on the Board of Directors of the Vashon Island Growers Association, where she focuses on improving access to island grown food for all Vashonites. When Caitlin isn’t working or volunteering, she runs our trails, gets into the mountains for backpacking, and loves experimenting in grain free cooking and baking. She’s also great at turning names and descriptions of people she knows into Beatles songs. When you see her, ask her to say coffee, she loves that.

Caitlin’s Land Trust Haiku:
A love of farming
Turns into conservation
Lettuce feed Vashon!

Erika Carleton, Development Director

As Development Director, Erika sees her job as this – making sure that everyone on Vashon knows about the work of the Vashon Land Trust and knows how, where, and when to learn more, to engage, and to contribute to its success. Erika gained her love for wild places and land conservation during summers at the family homestead in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Norther Minnesota. She learned at a young age that wilderness protection is never guaranteed and needs to be defended constantly and vigorously. She is passionate and committed to saving and protecting undeveloped land for people and wildlife and feels privileged to use her 12 years of non-profit fundraising experience here at the Vashon Land Trust. Erika and her family have called Vashon home since 2010. She joined the Land Trust in 2015.

Erika is not a fan of Haiku. Fair enough.

Julie Grunwald, Operations Manager

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Julie Grunwald grew up in the Pacific Northwest – happily exploring its beaches, forests, streams and mountains. These early experiences sent her on a trajectory towards her current job working as Operations Manager for the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust. She loves working to preserve and restore critical wildlife habitat, shorelines, watersheds, farmland in central Puget Sound. Julie is proud to help raise awareness about the positive benefits of nature, providing access through public trails, helping the community learn to live side by side with our natural world in a healthy, respectful way.

Julie moved to Vashon Island in 1995, is married and raising two teenage boys in the beautiful playground that is Vashon-Maury Island. She’s happiest by a creek, on a mossy trail, or swooning over birdies through her binoculars.

Julie’s Land Trust Haiku

Love the brilliance of
the wet, green, dark silver ~ life
hums, shimmers brightly 

Board of Directors 2018

Tom Amorose, President

Tom Amorose has lived on Vashon for nearly forty years.  His current stint on the Land Trust board is his second, the previous one having taken place in the mid-1990’s.  Tom is enrolled in the Washington Forest Stewardship program and works to improve the forest health of his west-side woods.  By training, he’s a researcher who currently studies the rhetoric of public lands in the American West.

Tom’s Neill Point Haiku:

Who cares for this patch
of broken plantings and fence?
Nettles bide their time.

Gene Carlson

Born and raised in Seattle. U.W. grad. Forty years away from the Northwest working as a journalist in California, New York, Washington, D.C. and Southeast Asia. Reporter, editor and columnist for The Wall Street Journal. Helped start the digital news site Crosscut.com. Lifelong sailor and singer. Member: UK-based Ocean Cruising Club. Bass-baritone in Vashon Opera chorus. Maury Island resident. Devoted to the Land Trust’s mission, membership and colleagues on the Board of Directors.

Gene’s Land Trust Haiku:

Snowy Olympics
Often seen over harbor
Today, not so much

Amy Holmes, Vice President

Amy Beth Holmes returned to put down roots on Vashon in 2007, after initially falling in love with the island in 1999 when she completed her student teaching at Vashon High School. She and her husband, island born and raised Toby Holmes, accidentally bought a farm and have not looked back since.

Although her initial professional life began as a marine biologist and teacher, after moving to Vashon and beginning to farm, Amy quickly saw how land and sea connected here on our island. She adapted her background knowledge to the scientific pursuit of farming in a way to stay connected and protect the aquatic ecosystem surrounding her farm and home. She listened to stories from her mother-in-law, Shirley Ferris, about her tenure as board member and then president of the Vashon Land Trust. When a fellow friend invited her to join the board, the answer was easy.

Today, Amy not only serves as a board member and the Vice President of the Vashon Maury Island Land Trust, but she also serves as the Vice Chair of the King County Agriculture Commission. These roles inform her work throughout the region as a consulting agricultural expert to government and non-profit organizations. She is fascinated by the inner-workings of code and bureaucracy and loves coming through land easement agreements, and policies that affect what we do here at the Land Trust.

When not geeking out over land use issues, you can often find Amy somewhere on her farm, pruning, harvesting, collecting, or stocking the farmstand. And if she is not there, she must be somewhere fun with her two kids, dancing, skiing, sailing, or traveling the world.

Amy’s Land Trust Haiku:
Farming on Vashon
With a view of what we love
So grateful to serve

Kris Olson

Kris Olson is a lawyer, author and weaver. As a lawyer, she taught at Lewis & Clark Law School and served as Oregon’s United States Attorney (appointed by President Clinton). Janet Reno tapped her to be on her Advisory Council, specializing in environmental issues, Native American Affairs and domestic terrorism. Kris currently consults with tribal governments on sovereignty, cultural resource and federal recognition issues. As an author, she wrote the biography Standing Tall published by University of Washington Press and many magazine and journal articles. As a weaver, she built her studio on Luana Beach Road and designs architectural tapestries.

Raised on an island in New York, Kris helped build trails on its Nature Conservancy lands. She was an original member of the bi-state Columbia Gorge Commission and was appointed to the board of the Tribal Lands Program of the Trust for Public Land. As a resident of Oregon for over forty-five years, Kris served on the boards of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, Westwind Stewardship Group, Portland City Club, ACLU, Museum at Warm Springs, Spirit Mountain Community Fund, Metropolitan Human Rights Commission, Artists Repertory Theatre, Lezak Social Justice Fellowships at Lewis & Clark, Scandinavian Heritage Foundation, Metropolitan Public Defender and the Oregon College of Art & Craft, among others.

Kris is a graduate of Wellesley College and Yale Law School, mother of five, grandmother of five.

Kris’ Land Trust Haiku:

Our native island
Home to ancestral stewards
May habitat thrive

Tom Spring, Conservation Committee Chair

Tom Spring has been a member of the Land Trust since 2005 and has served on its board since 2010. He is retired from the City of Seattle where he served in various senior management roles in the water utility. In the mid-1990s, Tom was responsible for two very large land exchanges which enabled Seattle to consolidate its ownership of forest lands in its two Cascade Mountain municipal watersheds. He also has experience with streamflow and watershed restoration issues.

He grew up in Tacoma and his family’s Vashon roots go back to the 1890s when his grandfather attended Vashon College in Burton. Tom has lived on lower Fisher Creek since 2004, and has watched his own three grandchildren grow up on Vashon.

Tom holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Puget Sound and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Washington. He served in the Peace Corps in Brazil.

Tom’s Land Trust Haiku:

Salmon, cedars, bog and streams
Trails for dogs and hikers
Plus a farm

Jon Thomas, Secretary

After receiving a Bachelor of Architecture from the U of W and a Master of Architecture from Berkley in the early 70’s, Jon discovered the gems that are Vashon and Maury Island. He established an architectural practice on the island in 1973, specializing in housing and the preservation of the islands critical areas.

From 1980 – 1985, he was a faculty member of the Design Department at Cornish College of the Arts.

He was a member of the planning committee for a major revision to the Vashon Community Plan and a board member for a class one water system on the island.

He was a founding board member of Vashon Household and while completing a program to become a King County Land and Water Steward, was invited to join the Board of Land Trust in 1991 and served until 1995. Asked to rejoin the Board in 2005, he is a member of the Executive Committee and Chairman of the Stewardship Committee along with serving on other committees.

With decades of experience with many of the islands properties, critical areas, county land use regulations and zoning, water and septic regulations and limitations, he assists the Land Trust in evaluating property acquisitions and easements and planning of long-term goals.

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Abel Eckhardt, Land Steward

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Tom Dean
, Executive Director

Tom got his start in the outdoors complaining to his dad about the weight of his pack and the length of the trail. Somehow that morphed into a love of plants, despite the fact that they have no eyes and you can’t bang on their cage and make them move. Again without explanation, Tom was offered a job at the Vashon Land Trust in 2003, and has steadfastly refused to leave ever since.
Tom got his start with plants through the birth of Restore America’s Estuaries, organizing plantings along the Duwamish River with stock from the Judd Creek Nursery. Somehow, that morphed into taking the helm of the Vashon Land Trust – shortly after conservation efforts in the Judd Creek watershed had begun in earnest. All these years later, there is still much work to be done.

Tom’s Land Trust Haiku:
The season when the
Developers stop, we raise a toast
And call the truce

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Linda Griffith Crayton, Treasurer

Linda Crayton and her family finally moved to Vashon in 2013. Linda was first a member of the Vashon Maury Land Trust before joining the Board (now Treasurer) in 2017. Linda’s business background includes her experience as a CPA working at Price Waterhouse, Chase Manhattan, and Tides Foundation, before running her own small businesses. She is an enthusiastic supporter of the VMLT’s mission.

Linda’s Land Trust Haiku:
Dirt. Duff. Green. Alive.
Vashon trails hum, buzz, and fill
My heart, mind and eyes

Chip Giller

As a Portage resident, Chip Giller represents the hyphen in the land trust’s name. He joined the board in 2008. Chip is the founder of the digital media organization Grist, which he launched in 1999, intent on using a new type of journalism to engage the next generation on environmental issues. Grist now has an audience of more than 2.5 million, and has been especially successful reaching readers in their 20s and early 30s. They follow Grist.org for information, inspiration, and conversation—as well as an injection of much-needed humor. Chip has been honored with a Heinz Award for launching the country’s most influential green media platform, and been named a TIME magazine “Hero of the Environment.” He is now using the Grist platform to showcase and connect an emerging set of leaders working toward a future that doesn’t suck. Chip is a graduate of Brown University, proud papa of two native Vashonites, and proud husband of one remarkable wife.

Chip’s Land Trust Haiku:

O, muse: Moss, mildew,
Murk, muck — masking maritime
Marvels of m’island.

Scott Hudson

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Mary Frances Lyons

A mid-west native, only in her 40’s did Mary Fran figure out how wonderful it is to have a view, and thanks to family connections, she wound up with a view on/of Vashon Island.  Her experience as a search consultant has proven valuable in her time on the Land Trust board, dealing with a myriad of issues over the years.  Most importantly, she has had the privilege of being part of a team dedicated to keeping Vashon…Vashon.  It is this same goal that led her to support the Land Trust for years before she was able to actually mover here full-time.  Her interest in all things musical led to her composing a rap song detailing the history of Vashon and of the Land Trust.  She is an amateur birder, and it is no coincidence that land preservation efforts are to the benefit of the birds.  But she likes to think that her biggest contribution is making sure the Land Trust is moving forward always, advancing community interests in conservation and open space preservation.

Mary Fran’s Land Trust Haiku:

Glens and vales between
Forests and fields play hopscotch
Homes for all beings

Charley Rosenberry, Development Committee Chair

Charley Rosenberry graduated with a B.A. degree from Whitman College in 1981. He graduated from Seattle University School of Law in 1988.

From 1986 through 1990, Charley worked for Evergreen Legal Services providing legal aid to inmates in the custody of the State of Washington Department of Corrections and patients at Western Washington State Hospital in Steilacoom, WA. From March 1990 to May 1998, Charley worked in the Law Office of Mitchell Riese. Charley provided legal services to youth committed to the State of Washington’s Juvenile Justice & Rehabilitation Administration (JJ&RA).

Charley is currently a solo practitioner. His office is in Vashon, WA. Since November 1998, the State of Washington has awarded Charley the contract to provide legal services for youth in JRA custody. Charley is JJ&RA’s only legal services provider. His clients are in institutions throughout the state and come from every county in the state. The JRA contract comprises nearly all of Charley’s practice.

Charley was an active member of Seattle’s Plymouth Congregational Church. He served on various boards and was Church Moderator from January 2002 to January 2004.

Charley is on the Board of Overseers of Whitman College He served on the Board of Plymouth Housing Group and currently serves on the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust Board. He is active in several charitable foundations.   

Charley was the head coach/co-head coach of the Vashon High School Boys Lacrosse Club from 1992 to 2012. Though one of the smallest schools to play lacrosse in Washington, Vashon won the State Championship in 1997 and 2005. Charley was selected Washington High School Lacrosse Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2006. He was chosen for the United States Lacrosse, Washington Chapter, Hall of Fame in 2010  

Charley lives with his wife Lanora and her children Megan and Merideth, and dogs, llamas, horses, chickens and cats on Vashon Island. Charley enjoys working on the farm, packing with his llamas, fly fishing and spending as much time as possible outdoors. 

Kirk Starr, Past President

Kirk Starr is a retired pediatrician who has been involved with the Land Trust for 20+ years. He has served on the Board for the past 4 years with a focus on farms and trails. His other interests include the Food Bank, running, backpacking and his garden.

Kirk’s Land Trust Haiku:
The mountain high
The trail long and steep
Oh the glory

Don Stuart

Don Stuart is a former nonprofit organization manager and advocate for natural resource protection. As Northwest Director for American Farmland Trust, he helped create the Farmland Protection Program in the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and the Office of Farmland Protection at the Washington State Conservation Commission. He was also a practicing trial attorney, a lobbyist, campaign manager for the successful defense of a statewide ballot initiative, a candidate for Congress, and he and his wife Charlotte built and fished an Alaska commercial salmon troller. Don now enjoys reading, writing, and “messing about with boats.”

Don’s Land Trust Haiku:

Sun-sparks on water
Just a single salmon jumps
Will next year bring more?

Sara Van Fleet

Sara Van Fleet moved to Vashon in 1999 with her husband Sam. They live on three acres on the beautiful west side and over the years have worked to create and enhance wildlife habitat on their property. Sara received a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Washington and worked for 18 years as the Associate Director of the Southeast Asia Center at the UW. She retired from UW in 2016 and now enjoys time on the island teaching Zumba classes, working in the garden and playing the bass in The Van Redeker band.

Sara’s Land Trust Haiku:

Frozen ground yielding
Melts into spring daffodils
Frogs sing loud love songs