Transitions: A Change in Leadership

After 11 wonderful years, I am writing with a bittersweet heart to share news that I am leaving the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts to take a new job as Executive Director for the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District. My last day with COLT will be January 12, 2024.

Kelley Beamer, photo by Emilie Chen.

I realize there is never a perfect time to step away from an organization that is going full steam in reaching its goals, but I also know that COLT has never had a more talented staff team, devoted board, and passionate membership to accomplish its mission.

As the founding Executive Director, it has been an honor to be entrusted with the spark of collection action created by Oregon’s land trust community. Since 2012 COLT has grown into a well-respected statewide voice that effectively advocates, builds durable and trusting connections, and advances land justice.

While I am sad to leave my COLT family, I am excited to step into a new role that allows me to support voluntary conservation in a very local way in my community—across urban and rural landscapes—and I will continue to be part of the COLT community as a member organization.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for the chance to have served you. It has been the honor of my career.


Kelly Beamer Signature




A note from the Board President

Dan Bell

On behalf of the COLT Board of Directors, I want to express my deepest gratitude for Kelley and her profound impact on the Oregon land trust community over the last 11 years. COLT is where it is today because of her bold, collaborative, human-centered, and joyful leadership.

When Kelley joined this community in 2012, the Gray family had just made a transformational gift to grow land trust capacity in Oregon. With Kelley at the helm as founding Executive Director, COLT and the Land Trust Alliance joined forces to build strong organizations to tackle the challenges of our time—connecting fragmented landscapes, restoring river systems, and connecting people to nature. 

Over 11 years, Kelley has grown COLT into a well-respected organization, and helped cultivate a united, collaborative, and thriving land trust community in Oregon. Some of her accomplishments include:

  • Building critical capacity for Oregon land trusts, which saw a 72% increase in full time staff, a 146% increase in protected lands, and a 77% increase of land trust supporters during her tenure
  • Positioning COLT as a powerful advocate for conservation funding and programs in the state
  • Growing the COLT staff team from one to five full time staff
  • Launching the Oregon Land Justice Project to support Indigenous land return, land access, and sovereignty

And so much more.

In the words of Ben Pittenger of Lower Nehalem Community Trust, Kelley leaves tall shoulders to stand on. She is a true leader, connector, visionary, and friend.

The Board of Directors has started discussions on managing this important transition, and charting the course for hiring a replacement Executive Director. The board will spend the next month working closely with Kelley, the land trust community in Oregon, and COLT staff to develop a transition plan that supports our staff and allows our programs to continue.

Please join me and the rest of the Board in thanking Kelley for her tremendous service. Thank you for inspiring us, thinking big, and for leading this work in a deeply personal and relational way. We wish you the best of luck in your transition to East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District. 

They are fortunate to have you, and we are fortunate for your time with us.

Dan Bell
COLT Board President
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Kelsey Kuhnhausen

Kelsey Kuhnhausen

Kelsey is COLT's Communications Manager.

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