OLT staff members handle the on-the-ground work of fulfilling OLT’s mission, both in the office and out in the field.

Kate Miller
Executive Director
(509) 557-6306

Kate joined OLT as Executive Director in March 2021. Trained as an anthropologist, her career before coming to OLT involved research and teaching, including on the relationship between people, livelihoods and ecosystems. For years she dreamed of leaving academia and practicing what she preached. Having visited the Okanogan Valley several times, she was thrilled at the chance to move here and help conserve its natural and working landscapes.

Kate was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, but spent much of her early life traveling the world, thanks to her father’s work in global public health, before returning to the US for a BA at Reed College. While working on her PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of California, San Diego, she lived for a year and a half in the Hunza Valley in Northern Pakistan, where she studied the relationship between local cultural and religious values and international development.

She brings her anthropological skills as a listener and observer and her appreciation for the inter-dependence of social and natural systems to her role at OLT. She is happy to talk with anyone who cares about the Okanogan and its people, and she is eager to learn from as many perspectives as possible.

Kate is an avid cook and enthusiastic novice gardener. She enjoys camping and hiking with her husband Kevin and aspires to improve her cross-country skiing form now that she lives in a place where she doesn’t have to drive to the snow.

Bryan Cook
(509) 557-6306

Bryan joined OLT in 2015. He handles all our vitals– bookkeeping, record keeping, HR and more.

As the song goes, Bryan “left a good job in the City” when he and his wife Kirsten relocated from Seattle to Okanogan in 2011. They lived on their property in two small sheds (total of less than 300 sq ft.) without power or running water for more than two years until they were able to build and move into their dream house in 2014.

Bryan’s career has involved many a messy desk that comes with the territory of program management and administration, working in these areas in governmental, corporate, and non-profit settings,

Bryan is originally from the East Coast and earned his BA in Asian Studies from Connecticut College. He also holds an MA in Environment and Community from Antioch University Seattle. He has now been out West longer than he was back East, and rest assured, now roots for the Seahawks over the Patriots!

In his spare time, Bryan enjoys reading, playing guitar, hiking, snow shoeing, and cooking all those foods you can’t get at restaurants in this area (which is a big list!). He and Kirsten also enjoy traveling, especially when it involves snorkeling.

Michelle Martin

Conservation Coordinator

(509) 557 6306



Michelle is a new hire with OLT as of January 2023. She will be serving as OLT’s conservation associate conducting conservation easement monitoring, stewardship, and partnership building within the community. Since graduating with her B.S. from Florida State University, Michelle has worked as a wildlife researcher and biologist on a variety of projects studying birds and small mammals. In the last few years, Michelle discovered the niche of conservation work within wildlife biology and after seeing the accomplishments that can be achieved through coordination and hard work. With her new position working for OLT, Michelle will be able to further her conservation career in the land trust framework and use her training as a wildlife biologist to enhance and assist with outreach and conservation easement projects.

Michelle hails from sunny St. Petersburg, Florida but her career as a wildlife biologist has taken her far and wide. She began her career working as a technician for a non-profit organization in the Sierra Nevada of California studying imperiled willow flycatcher. In addition, Michelle has assisted with research projects in both avian behavioral studies for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and long-term monitoring projects on rangeland for Texas A&M University. She has also conducted monitoring work for various avian species along with project management for state agencies such as Utah DNR and Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). In 2021, Michelle received her masters in biological sciences from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta studying the breeding biology of the largely managed but understudied ruffed grouse.

In her spare time, Michelle enjoys cooking, reading, watching sci-fi movies, birding (surprise), backpacking, and spending time with her budgie, Merlin.

Jerry DeBacker
Senior Conservationist (Emeritus)

Jerry served as Executive Director of OLT from 2016 to early 2019 and continued to serve OLT as a consultant, riding herd on some continuing projects and helping the organization in its the transition to new leadership. He retired at the end of 2022, but continues to lend the benefit of his wisdom experience whenever needed.

Jerry has a wealth of land trust experience, having worked for the Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust (ID) and Whatcom Land Trust (WA). He was the founding executive director of Prickly Pear Land Trust in Helena, Montana.

Jerry has assisted two organizations in securing national accreditation and has secured permanent conservation of trail corridors, nature reserves, agricultural lands, mitigation properties, and public parks.

“My goal is fairly simple, work with people who wish to protect and steward nature,” explained Jerry. “I’ve been fortunate to serve as a conduit for people’s best intentions- and for that I’m very grateful!”

Jerry, and his wife Ellen, have always enjoyed camping, skiing, biking, and river running with their two daughters, son-in-law, and two granddaughters. Upon retirement, they took to the open road in a deluxe camper, headed for parts unknown. Bon voyage, Jerry! 




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