Gorge Grown Board of Directors

Gorge Grown Food Network Board of Directors reflects a wide section of our community’s interests. Everyone serves because they all believe in supporting our community’s agriculture and food needs. Our directors include food professionals,  business professionals, vendors, food advocates and others.

Suzi Conklin

Board Chair

Susan (Suzi) Conklin received her MA from the University of Northern Colorado. She immediately went into media first as a disc jockey then had an hour long live Oregon Public Broadcasting television program in Salem, Oregon followed by a long career in independent film/video as a producer ending up with Will Vinton Studios the Claymation® studio that received notoriety for producing the California Raisins® commercials. In 2001, Suzi and her husband moved to Mosier and built the WildFlower Cafe. After they sold the business Suzi got involved with co-creating the Mosier Farmers’ Market, teaching cooking classes, interviewing residents of Mosier for a video presented at Mosier’s Centennial and continues to write and edit the Mosier Valley e-News. Recognizing a need for a strong locally sources food system in The Gorge, Suzi is happy to bring her talents to the Board to help GGFN achieve its goals.

Gladys Rivera

Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital

Bio coming soon

Laurel Bourret

Wildwood Farm

Laurel owns and operates Wildwood Farm with her husband, Paul Brown. Together they grow fresh vegetables and flowers in Hood River, all sold to local restaurants in the Gorge. Laurel has worked as a farmer in the Pacific Northwest since 2007, with those first years spend learning and growing many varieties of vegetables. Over the years since then, the vegetable and herb variety has been refined to the things that grown best at Wildwood and an ever-increasing array of beautiful flowers. Initially inspired by growing her own wedding flowers, Laurel loves work in the floral design process- from seed to ceremony and everything in between.

Cindy Brown

4-H Youth Development and Healthy Living, OUS Sherman County Extension

Cindy Kaseberg Brown’s agricultural roots originate with the Sherman County dryland wheat farm her great-great grandfather homesteaded in 1882. Attending Washington State University, she majored in General Agriculture followed by a MA in Agricultural Economics. Married to high school sweetheart Charley Brown since 1984, they owned and operated a farm, garden and pet supply retail store in The Dalles for 17 years. Cindy now serves OSU Sherman County Extension in 4-H Youth Development and Healthy Living, and is a Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver, which complements her homesteading activities. Her main work is overseeing the 4-H youth development activities in Sherman County.  She mentors in the school, teaches afterschool cooking classes, is a member of Oregon Women for Agriculture, is a certified Community Health Worker, and represents Sherman County on the Eastern Oregon Healthy Living Alliance overseeing health care issues in a 12-county area.

Steve Seymour

Mosier Valley Lavender

Samuels Yoelin Kantor LLP


Bio coming soon

Buck Jones

Cayuse/ Umatilla Tribal Member

Salmon Marketing Specialist, Columbia River Intertribal Fisheries Commission

Buck is an enrolled Cayuse member, one of the bands of Confederated Tribes of The Umatilla Indian Reservation. (CTUIR) He was raised practicing Sovereign rights including hunting, fishing and gathering First Foods. Buck attended the College of Southern Idaho in general studies and the Scottsdale Community College with a focus on Native American Treaty Law and Policy. Buck is Columbia River Treaty Fisherman who has done various duties including catching, processing, and marketing of Tribal Caught Salmon for decades. He was employed at Ain Dah Yung in St Paul, MN an emergency shelter for runaway and homeless American Indian Youth from 1997 through 2000. He has also been a Transportation Coordinator and a Family Advocate. Buck has been employed through Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission in various capacities since 2004. His first position was on Operation and Maintenance Staff of In Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites. He then transferred into Fish Science Department working on Upstream Migration Project at Bonneville Dam in 2011. In September of 2015, he took his current position as Field Marketing Specialist in the Salmon Marketing Program. This position has allowed Buck to work on markets, provide training on Food and Boat Safety, Quality Handling and Product Development for approximately 600 Tribal Fisherman. It has also allowed him to be involved in various national and regional Tribal Food Sovereignty Groups along with being Gorge Grown’s Food Security Coalition.

Paul Rygiewicz

Paul Rygiewicz recently retired as a Research Scientist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  During his service in Corvallis, OR he conducted applied and basic research to understand how human activities influence the health and sustainability of terrestrial ecosystems.  He received his Ph.D. in tree physiology-soil nutrition from the University of Washington; following that he held a Post-Doctoral position at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, and then a second Post-Doctoral appointment at the University of California-Berkeley.  Even though he arrived recently to live in the east end of the Columbia River Gorge area, he is familiar with a variety of PNW and west coast issues, having worked on projects in British Columbia, on the Olympic Peninsula, across Oregon east-to-west, and throughout the Cascades and Sierra Nevada Mountains.  His career allowed him opportunities to work in countries in South America, Europe including Russia/Siberia, and New Zealand.  He looks forward to serving on the Board as we continue to use and rely upon our local ecosystems to provide locally the abundant variety food that is possible to grow here, while also striving to maintain our local food production systems and the other societal benefits we derive from our ecosystems.

Rachel Suits

Oregon State University Extension, Small Farms Program

Rachel works with OSU Extension Service in Hood River and Wasco Counties managing the Master Gardener program in Hood River and Small Farms programs in both counties. She grew up on a small hobby farm in the San Joaquin Valley in California where she first learned that pulling weeds was therapeutic and cooking from the garden provided a creative outlet. Her B.A. from UC Berkeley in Integrated Biology allowed her to discover the enormity of nature and the humble feeling it creates. She has her M.A. in Education from Antioch University in Seattle where she was a high school science teacher before obtaining her M.S. in Entomology from North Carolina State University. Her studies emphasized Integrated Pest Management, and she had the opportunity to work with both large conventional growers as well as smaller organic growers doing research and consulting. Now she enjoys working and collaborating with local organizations and non-profits to strengthen the local food system. One of her favorite parts of her agriculture work is communicating with a diversity of growers and hearing their experiences. As an educator, she has extensive experience interacting with many different people towards a common learning goal. She is enthusiastic and genuinely interested in the passions of others, especially when they share their excitement for growing plants and eating nutritious foods.

Katrnia McAlexander

Mt. View Orchards

Trina is the 3rd generation farmer to work her family’s orchard. Mt. View Orchards is an 50-acre apple and pear farm nestled just north of Mt. Hood in the quaint town of Parkdale, Oregon. For over fifty years, Trina’s family has raised delicious, top-grade, environmentally sustainable fruit, establishing Mt. View as an important fruit grower in the Hood River Valley and Columbia Gorge region. She learned “the art of farming” from her parents, Lyle and Ruthie McAlexander. More recently, Trina has launched Golden Row, a hard cider label using Mt. View Orchard’s bounty.

Courtney Jackson, N.D.

Courtney is a naturopathic doctor who passionately promotes the healing power of whole foods to her patients and the public. She currently practices as a primary care physician at Grain Integrative Health in southeast Portland with a special focus on hormone, digestive, and cardiovascular health. She co-founded the Food as Medicine Institute at the National University of Natural Medicine and created the popular 12-week hands-on cooking and nutrition series called Food as Medicine Everyday (FAME). She believes in the transformative power of community-based education for improving health outcomes. In 2016, she co-authored and published her first book, “Food as Medicine Everyday- Reclaiming Your Health with Whole Foods”. Rooted in nutrition research, this book provides friendly, practical and delicious guidelines to those looking to include more healthy, whole foods in their diet. Prior to practicing naturopathic medicine, Courtney earned her Bachelor of Science in Resource Ecology Management from the University of Michigan. She began her health career in the public health arena in beautiful Summit County, Colorado, working as an EMT at the local hospital and a bilingual medical interpreter at a public health clinic. She has worked for the international nonprofit organization, Amigos de las Americas, where she spent summers abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico and Valle, Honduras, serving as a mentor to youth volunteers while partnering with agencies like Save the Children to complete ambitious projects to improve community health. She currently loves spending time indoors and outdoors with her husband and two kids and celebrating a good meal with them.  In spite of her love of local, fresh food, she is a struggling but budding gardener.