State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Oregon
Jim Desmond State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Oregon © Tim Jewett

Our People

Jim Desmond

State Director, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

  • Areas of Expertise

    conservation, legal

Biography

Jim Desmond is the State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Oregon. Prior to his current role, Jim held various leadership roles at Metro for the past 18 years, serving as Director of Metro’s parks, natural areas, environmental education, and the region’s recycling program. Jim led Metro's nationally recognized conservation efforts that protected 14,000 acres of land, 170 miles of river and stream frontage, and planted 2 million trees and shrubs.

Before joining Metro, Jim worked as regional attorney for The Nature Conservancy in the Southeastern US, supporting conservation efforts in 11 southeastern states.  He started his career as a business attorney in Chicago, where he was elected partner at the law firm of Winston and Strawn.

He was raised in Detroit and holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame and Vanderbilt University School of Law. Jim and his wife, Elisabeth Williams, reside in Lake Oswego with their twin daughters, Lily and Louise. He currently serves on the board of Rediscover the Falls, the friends group for the Willamette Falls Legacy Project.

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Dear friends and supporters,

On behalf of the entire staff here in Oregon, it is our sincere wish that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during this incredibly difficult time. Our hearts go out to all affected by illness, loss or economic hardship. We also want to thank our dedicated frontline workers—from medical professionals, grocery workers, police and emergency personnel, sanitation workers and all other essential service providers—who keep society running despite tremendous risk. We are humbled and inspired by the bravery and acts of kindness we are seeing here in Oregon and around the world.

It’s an understatement to say that this has been a trying time. Scary, stressful and humbling, but not without hope. And nature plays a big role in that hope.

In a time of stress, nature soothes. The simplicity of spring flowers blooming and the reappearance of migratory backyard birds provide a welcome break from the unending news cycle.

In a period of distancing, nature brings us together. Music on a breeze through an open window, a neighborhood stroll in the sunshine, or a view of the starry night sky we all live beneath reminds us that we’re all in this together.

When we feel vulnerable, nature shows us resilience. Trees green around us, hummingbirds and other pollinators feast on spring’s abundance and gray whales continue their ancient annual migration off the Oregon coast.

We can turn to nature personally for these benefits, and on a larger scale for the betterment of the world around us. Circumstances in 2020 have only reinforced that innovation, teamwork and science are a powerful combination. Nature will help us through.

As for our Nature Conservancy chapter here in Oregon, we have postponed volunteer events and activities and have made the difficult decision to close our preserves for now, but—like nature itself—we will adapt and continue to work tirelessly to protect our lands and waters and the many benefits they provide us. I have never been more grateful to be part of this conservation family, and to count you as a supporter.

While we can’t gather in person, we can connect in other ways and continue to be inspired by nature in all its forms. Below are a few of my favorite Oregon nature photos that I’ll hope you enjoy as much as I do. May they provide you with comfort and hope.

Yours in conservation,

Jim Desmond

State Director, The Nature Conservancy in Oregon

Following Governor Brown's "Stay Home, Save Lives" Executive Order and wanting to help limit the spread of COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to close our preserves from 03/23/2020 until further notice. While getting outside for a walk, run or hike in an uncrowded area can help keep us both physically and mentally healthy during this trying time if social distancing guidelines are followed, it can be nearly impossible to stay the recommended six feet away from others on narrow trails. Due to large crowds in close proximity in parks and on trails, we are acting consistently with Oregon State Parks and closing our preserves to the public for the time being.