Sacred Earth Foundation
Board of Directors & Staff
SEF's Board of Directors meets quarterly at Ekone and more frequently on committee work to help steward the mission, vision, and values of the organization in real world practice. They give big of their time, energies, and talents to support the thriving of this organization.
Sacred Earth Foundation Board of Directors
Victoria DeCillo | Vice President | Olympia
Victoria was introduced to Ekone in 2016 when her children came to summer camp for the first time. She was captivated by the mission of SEF, the easy laughter of staff, and the warm community that welcomed her family in. Victoria holds an undergraduate degree in International Development and a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies. Formative work experience includes working at a forestry college in Kenya and her and many years in program management for State and Local governments. At present, a day well-spent includes making at least one healthy meal for her kids, hitting the trail with the dogs and goats, and having time to pursue her passion for crafting with wool.
Jessenia Eisenman | Duvall
she/her & they/them
Having grown up in community on a permaculture farm in the mountains of California, Jessenia felt right at home at Ekone when they first came in 2017 as a staff member for the annual Mother and Child retreat and sure was glad to have found a place of like-minded folk who care deeply for the land and for their community. A graduate of the 9-month intensive for adults at Wilderness Awareness School, Jessenia has continued her naturalist skills and studies by going on occasional primitive skills trips, farming, teaching, and generally being curious about the natural world. They live just outside of Seattle with their husband, pet cat (who is the boss), garden, and colony of meat rabbits. Jessenia feels honored and humbled to serve on the board alongside such wonderful people. These days she spends a lot of their time nannying, beading, tanning hides and thinking about what to make for dinner.
Morgan Houk | Treasurer | Bainbridge Island
As a camper at Ekone in the early 2000's, Morgan was introduced to many concepts of sustainability, self-sufficiency and earth stewardship that followed her throughout business school and early career on the East Coast. Having recently returned to her roots on Bainbridge Island, she works as an organic farmer and bookkeeping consultant for small food and farming businesses in the region. She is thrilled to reconnect with the place and people who quietly shaped her life and decision making in untold ways, and offer the business skills she has learned during her time away.
Tracy McDaniel | Seattle
Tracy first arrived at Ekone in 2016 and fell instantly in love with the land, the community, and the horses. She has been a small business owner and naturopathic physician in Seattle since 2002, practicing midwifery for 10 of those years. She’s been a program participant herself, is a camp parent and has served on the board of directors since 2018. She serves to be an ally to this land, the natural death work offered here, and the wild and heartful tending of children who love this place.
Skye Newkirk | Goldendale
he/him & they/them
Skye has a tendency to build community wherever he goes. His first introduction to the Ekone community was the Barbed Wire Ball in 2013 through his wifey-for-lifey, Caitlin Jones. Skye holds a master's degree in Social Work and is a mental health counselor by trade, which has given him tools for honoring life's transitions, facilitating group processing, and creating emotionally safe spaces. He is a co-facilitator of Queer Rites of Passage at Ekone. Skye's motto is, "Never lose your passion. Always respond with love."
Valerie Pufahl | Portland
Valerie became acquainted with Ekone in 2012 while she was leading the outdoor program at the Portland Waldorf School. She began bringing the PWS 12th graders to the meadows, forest, and canyonlands of Ekone each fall for their wilderness solo capstone, a program which has continued beyond her tenure. Valerie has been a Waldorf movement teacher, led over 200 weeks of backcountry trips for youth and adults, and is currently the Executive Director of LEAP Wilderness Programs based in Portland, OR–operating multi-day whitewater kayaking programs on the Salmon River in Idaho. Her current work specializes in creating empowering opportunities for youth and adults who are integrating trauma and significant adversities through well-scaffolded experiences in the outdoors and in communities of peers with similar life encounters. Valerie is enthusiastic to be on Ekone’s Board of Directors to help support transformative experiences for campers and continue to nourish the land that has brought so much richness to her life and those of her students.
Kent Siebold | Portland
Kent was charmed by Ekone’s mission and programs in 2012, experiencing firsthand the capacity of this land to rejuvenate the weary modern soul. His family makes regular visits to the ranch, and his daughter attends camp each summer. Kent serves in Portland Public Schools as a coach and mentor for new teachers, and brings his considerable skills in communication, group decision-making, and non-violent communication to the board, as well as his experience of renovating a historic Portland home over the course of 15 years.
Judy Todd | President | Portland
Judy came to Ekone Ranch in 2006 as a consultant a year before Founder Ray Mitchell’s death. That experience infused her with a love of the place and principles of Sacred Earth Foundation. Since then she has served as volunteer, grandmother of summer campers, and Board member. She has also offered her NatureConnect NW programs at Ekone where she loves wandering the special landscape and meeting kin of all kinds. Judy’s livelihood has been through teaching, writing, consulting, and coaching in leadership and team-building. Since being on the 2014 Great March for Climate Action, she has dedicated herself to working for Earth.
Morgaine Trine | Secretary | Tulsa
As a summer camper-turned staff-turned Board member, Morgaine’s involvement with Ekone began in the mid-2000s. Her love of the land and community was immediate. After years as a camper, Morgaine joined the summer camp staff team and worked to bring more Ekone Magic to a new generation of campers. More recently, stepping away from regular summer camp work, Morgaine now owns a financial strategy and bookkeeping business while also traveling far and wide. She brings business savvy and a deep love to her work on the Board and is excited about holding this bigger piece of the organization’s vision.
Suzanne Wright Baumhackl | Hood River
In 2006, Suzanne left a 25-year marketing career in San Francisco to start a marriage, a family, and Solstice Wood Fire Cafe in the Gorge. Now, she, her husband Aaron, two sons Jenner & Rune, and the restaurant are flourishing in Hood River. After Suzanne attended her grandmother's conventional burial service, she knew that people must seek more natural, intimate, and purposeful end-of-life celebrations and environmentally sound burial practices. Her passionate quest for answers guided her first to White Eagle Memorial Preserve. Her learning quest and love of SEF's mission and work began. Her son, Rune, is a devoted Ekone camper and the whole family considers Ekone to be an essential place for humans to be human, for animals to be animals, and for land to be land, all being tended to with love & respect. Suzanne is now a student at Orphan Wisdom School, where she is a graduate scholar and is following a path to guide people in conversations about loving, living well, dying wise, natural burial, and befriending grief.
Sacred Earth Foundation Staff
Shawn Bergman | Facilities Manager
Shawn joined the Ekone crew in the spring of 2017, bringing his awesome work ethic, creative problem-solving skills, and the good sense of humor necessary to deal with Ekone's infrastructure. Shawn first visited Ekone in the early 2000s, drawn by the mission and vision of this place. He then spent many years working with other educational organizations and with troubled youth in the wilderness, developing and teaching valuable construction and wilderness skills. Shawn is a master of figuring out how to acquire and use recycled and reclaimed materials, of solving unsolvable facilities problems, and of creating the beautiful and highly functional facilities improvements you see around Ekone.
Jodie Buller | Cemetery & Conservation Director
Jodie has been a friend of Ekone since 2008, and stepped into leadership of White Eagle Memorial Preserve in 2013. She works with families directly to walk through end-of-life choices and burial logistics, and supports White Eagle’s Stewards, hosting tours, burials, and special events. Jodie lives part-time in the White Eagle Cabin in the Ekone Valley, and part-time in a wee cabin in Skagit Valley. Her background in outreach work for the Skagit Valley Food Co-op informs her passion to introduce White Eagle to communities throughout Washington and Oregon, with presentations and workshops on natural burial. She added Conservation in 2018, and manages the SEF Conservation Fund and stewardship work on the land.
Liz Coppola | Operations Director
Liz first came to summer camp in 1995, and has yet to miss a summer since! As a child, Liz initially fell in love with the land and horses of Ekone, and used to write songs about them and sing over the fence to the horses as she was filling their water trough. She worked as camp staff through her teens and early twenties, and graduated from Hampshire College in 2006, with a BA in Media and Cultural Studies. In 2007, Liz began managing a small livestock farm outside Seattle, providing pasture-raised dairy, meat, eggs, and cheese for the Seattle farmer’s markets, and spent 6 years working there. When Ekone founder Ray Mitchell died in 2007, Liz worked with another longtime Ekone summer camp leader, Caitlin Price, to continue running summer camp for the next three years. In 2013, Liz returned to Ekone to work full time as the Facilities Manager and then the Operations Director, overseeing maintenance to Ekone’s facilities, project management for the Saddle Up capital campaign, and participating in summer camp and other programs.
Caitlin Jones | Program Director
Caitlin has been coming to Ekone summer camps since she was 8 years old and has grown into a strong and compassionate leader. She has ridden and worked with horses most of her life, and believes them to be some of the most wise and loving of all animals (especially Ekone horses). She received a Masters in Social Work from the University of Washington and is currently working towards a certification in Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy, as well as recently becoming certified as a Wilderness First Responder. Caitlin has spent just about every summer working at Ekone and was hired as the Camp Director in 2018. She currently lives on Goldendale with her partner Skye, their dog Berkeley, and a couple of cats. Caitlin says Ekone is a second home for her, and she is beyond excited to be a part of the staff team!
Jenna Milton | Office Assistant & Horse Manager
When Jenna started coming to camp in 2001, Ekone inspired her to pursue her passions for horses, art, and adventure! Later, she rode hunters with her university’s equestrian team and spent summers teaching at Ekone and other horse camp settings. In 2013, Jenna graduated from Hollins University, spent the following summer at Ekone and then put her understanding of the Top Hand Wrangler Creed’s “Put safety first and embrace danger” to use on a 16-month sailing trip from Seattle to New Zealand, encountering incredibly beautiful places (along with some requisite challenging circumstances) along the way. After a year living in Australia, she returned to the PNW in May 2016 and spent a year and change as an Ekone volunteer/intern/ camp staff. She officially joined the year-round staff team in January of 2018 and these days, happily divides her time between wrangling spreadsheets and managing ponies.
Michelle Sager | Conservation/Garden/Volunteer Coordinator
Michelle is our resident plant nerd and juggler of many tasks! She first connected with Ekone in early 2017 while working at the OSU Extension Service in The Dalles and looking for local connections to good people and places. After a couple years of volunteering, she made the switch to become a real-life staffer here at the ranch. Michelle brings many years of experience working with youth and adults in horticulture-, art-, and naturalist education, and has an M.S. in Leadership for Sustainability Education from Portland State. You can often find her planting seeds, smelling trees, or investigating tiny flowers.
Shonie Schlotzhauer | Executive Director
Shonie first showed up at Ekone in 1994 and was immediately hooked by the warm, welcoming camp community, kind and spirited horses, and the rustic lifestyle reminiscent of her childhood in the Canadian bush. She lived at Ekone for two years as a teen, before attending The Evergreen State College where she studied agriculture, food systems and community development. She farmed for several years, taught garden-based nutrition programs, and served as the Food & Farming Program Manager at Sustainable Connections in Bellingham. Shonie returned to the ranch in 2009 to help fill the need left by Ray Mitchell’s death, becoming Sacred Earth Foundation’s first official staff member and providing careful, heartful leadership for SEF. Her love for the land grows each day.
Chris Woodcock | Kitchen Manager
Chris has now spent two decades serving up delicious, wholesome meals at Ekone’s “Yummy Tummy Café,” and has converted hundreds of children to loving vegetables. Her daughter, Shonie (now Ekone’s executive director), was the first to fall in love with Ekone, but Chris was not hard to convince, and has lived and worked at Ekone since 1995. Compared to cooking for tree-planters deep in the British Columbia bush, cooking for children in the Yummy Tummy is a dream. She also serves as a cemetery steward, and offers one-of-a-kind handmade shrouds for cemetery clients.
last updated February 2021