Arboretum Board Members are volunteers who donate their time because they love this place. They bring expertise in site management, biology, financial management, development, legal matters and education. You’ll see them volunteering at our festivals and other events, bringing enthusiasm and dedication to hands-on support of the Arboretum.

Sally Stender Kesey, President
Financial Advisor, Merrill Lynch
Financial planning & management expertise

Jessica Winans, Vice President
Faculty, Linn-Benton Community College
Expertise in outdoor & environmental education

Lauren Reid, Treasurer
Controller, Oregon Pacific Bank
Financial management & accounting skills

Kacy Hayes, Secretary
PhD Candidate at Oregon State University
Naturalist and amphibian biologist. Research educator.

Carl Bybee
Retired Professor, Media Studies, University of Oregon
Expertise in eco-philosopy, systems communications, and environmental education

Lauren Herbert MD
Pediatrician, PeaceHealth Medical Group
Interested in promoting mental and physical health of children through outdoor experiences

Whitney Randall
Land Steward, McKenzie River Trust
Expertise in plant identification, conservation, habitat restoration, and outdoor education.

Sara Worl
Restoration Projects Manager, Long Tom Watershed Council
Fire ecology and restoration, environmental education, equity, anti-racism and decolonization efforts


The Arboretum has been named one of the 100 best workplaces in Oregon. Our staff embodies excellence in all that we do and proudly serves our mission to engage people with nature through interactive learning and stewardship with decades of combined experience. We’re committed to taking care of this beautiful site so it can be enjoyed for generations.

Executive Director, Brad van Appel: Brad is a lifelong nature lover and learner who believes that the most valuable work we can do is to deepen and share our connection with the natural world. Brad landed his dream job as Executive Director of Mount Pisgah Arboretum in 2008. He feels it is the culmination of a long series of dream jobs and activities, from exploring the woods of Michigan as a child, to thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, working on natural history ships in Mexico and Alaska, and caretaking an island for Washington State Parks. Brad’s nonprofit career began in the mid-nineties and has included developing a citizen-based water quality monitoring program in Alaska, consulting on nonprofit management in the Russian far east, developing fuel-efficient wood cook stoves in Central America, and managing projects and programs for the Organic Materials Review Institute. Brad’s core values are a natural fit for the Arboretum’s mission to engage people with nature.    

Education Manager, Sara Spoden: Sara was born and raised in California and became enamored by the Pacific Northwest while attending college at Humboldt State University. With a degree in Environmental Education and Interpretation and over eight years experience in the field, Sara has a passion for connecting community members to the natural world. She believes that nothing is more rewarding than cultivating a sense of place within nature: which is for everyone to enjoy. When she is not leading nature walks at the Arboretum for kids and families she spends her time in and along the river and hiking with her partner and their dog Maxine. 

Environmental Educator, Kevin House: Kevin was born and raised in Oregon where he grew up camping, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors. He has a master’s degree in biology and spent several years teaching biology and ecology classes at a community college in Southern California before driving around the country in an RV with his partner Marli and eventually moving back up to Oregon to work in outdoor education. Kevin loves watching birds, finding fungi, and talking excessively about cool nature stuff.

Habitat and Trails Manager, Patrick Wegner: Patrick joined the Arboretum in the spring of 2020. Born and raised in Oregon, He graduated from Oregon State University’s Natural Resources program with an emphasis in Recreation and Tourism Management. Patrick has held several positions throughout Oregon with the Oregon State Parks and Recreation and the North Clackamas Parks and Rec dept., and volunteered with various natural resources organizations. He has extensive field experience performing habitat restoration and monitoring projects, plus outdoor education experience. He is excited to bring his knowledge and passion to the Arboretum. During his free time, he can be found spending time outside hiking, fishing, hunting, or traveling with his girlfriend. 

Facilities Manager, Connor Reinecke: Connor grew up in Northwest Washington State surrounded by trees, rivers, and mountains. After receiving his B.S. in Physics from Western Washington University, Connor travelled around the West Coast performing wildlife surveys, working construction, and teaching at outdoor schools. Connor loves riparian areas and enjoys running trails, reading a good book, and bird watching. His favorite foods are fresh carrots from the garden and ice cream.

Venue Manager, B. Rothweiler: B grew up on a small farm outside of Eugene and had the unique childhood experience of helping her mother foster orphaned and injured wildlife to be released back into nature. This instilled a life-long curiosity and passion for all living things. B has a diverse work history of customer service in art galleries, furniture design and perfumery. The core link that connects everything she pursues is a keen attention to detail and superb organizational skills which translate well into the wedding world. When not on the trails of Mount Pisgah, B is usually found at home with her boyfriend, Will, tending to their garden, brewing hard cider, and cozying up with their pack of fluffy cats and dogs.

Development & Communications Coordinator, Leisha Wood: Leisha grew up in Eugene and has been tromping around Mount Pisgah since she was three years old. Leisha received her BA in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon, and has gained experience in the non-profit sector in community education and outreach and program management. Leisha joined Mount Pisgah Arboretum as the Venue Manager in 2018 and loves working in a place that has been so special to her throughout her life. In her off hours, Leisha spends her time printmaking, sewing, adventuring, and snuggling with her two cats Lucy and Lemon.

Interpretation Coordinator, August Jackson: August began his career with the Arboretum in 2011, and has been in his current position as the Arboretum’s Interpretation Coordinator since 2016. August is passionate about teaching people about the natural world and making science communication more accessible, and he believes the Arboretum provides an unparalleled classroom. In addition to his work at the Arboretum, August’s expertise in the native bees of the Pacific Northwest has him frequently traveling for teaching and field work. August is an instructor with the Oregon Bee Atlas out of Oregon State University, and is the current president of the Eugene Natural History Society. In his free time, August enjoys gardening, photography, rafting, and spending time with his partner Amy and their two cats.

Office Coordinator, Mackenzie O’Connor: Mackenzie was born and raised right here in Eugene. Growing up she spent many weekends at Mount Pisgah with her grandparents – working on trails, searching for peacock feathers, and catching ladybugs in the barn. After graduating high school she has spent most of her professional life working as a legal clerk and office assistant. She is thrilled to be working at the Arboretum where she can connect with and give back to the community she grew up in. In her free time she enjoys reading, hiking, playing board games, and spending time with her crazy cat Freya.

Site Assistant, Josh Head: Josh has worked at Mount Pisgah Arboretum since 2018. He was born in Wyoming but moved with his family to Oregon at about the age of one. Throughout his childhood he lived all over the northwest and ended up going to three different elementary schools, two different middle schools, and four different high schools. After high school Josh moved back to Eugene because it had always felt like home for him. Since then, Josh has stayed in Eugene, working various jobs and attending Lane Community College before fortunately ending up at Mount Pisgah Arboretum. In his free time Josh enjoys being in nature with his dog Boogie, hiking and camping in the summer, and photography.