1000 Friends Staff & Offices

Russ Hoeflich
Executive Director
(503) 720-6656 | Russ@friends.org

Russ has a storied history of protecting Oregon lands. He served as the former State Director of the Oregon Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) before becoming Vice President and Senior Policy Director for TNC’s national Restoring America’s Forests Program. He was last acting as President of The Peregrine Fund. He also worked on the Ballot Measure 49 campaign to restore the Oregon land use planning program. 

Hoeflich brings a breadth of leadership experience to 1000 Friends of Oregon, which he will deploy to drive growth for the organization as they pursue ambitious policies in housing, transportation, farm and forest conservation, and community development. His deep passion for Oregon and the legacy of the state’s pioneering land use system drives Hoeflich’s vision for an even stronger, more impactful 1000 Friends in the years ahead.

With roots in Portland going back to the late 1890’s, Russ Hoeflich immediately connected to 1000 Friends’ history. Founded by Governor Tom McCall in 1975, 1000 Friends was established to protect Oregon’s nascent land use laws – a pioneering legislation now modeled in many parts of the world. More than 40 years later, the organization uses those laws to address the impacts of rapid population growth, inequitable housing access, urban pressure on our farm and forest lands, the changing face of food production, climate change, and the need for a modern transportation system.


Mary Kyle McCurdy
Deputy Director
(503) 497-1000 x130 | mkm@friends.org

Mary Kyle McCurdy earned her BA in Human Biology from Stanford University and her law degree from the University of California at Davis. She served as a law clerk to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edward Leavy. After two years in private practice, she joined 1000 Friends in 1990 as a staff attorney. She had served 1000 Friends as Policy Director, Staff Attorney, and Deputy Director. With over 30 years working with Oregon land use laws, Mary Kyle is a state leader and trusted voice on equitable land use, housing, transportation, urban planning, and climate solutions.

Ben Asher
Office Project Assistant

A graduate of the University of Kansas, Ben settled in the Northwest for its mild climate. He has a background in proofreading and currently works in various offices around Portland. He first joined 1000 Friends as a volunteer in 2016, and continues to volunteer with Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

Kate Bemesderfer, Director of Membership

Kate Bemesderfer
Director of Membership & Member Services
(503) 497-1000 x133 | Kate@friends.org

Kate joined 1000 Friends in 2017 after working for several years as the Donations & Communications Manager for EarthShare Oregon, an environmental fundraising nonprofit and network of which 1000 Friends is a founding member. Kate's nonprofit experience spans 20 years and 5 states, and ranges from developing audiences for an offbeat community theater, to establishing a school for young adults with autism, to managing events and public relations for a national landmark, to co-organizing an internationally-recognized 3-day music an cultural festival. She holds a BA in Psychology and Religious Studies from New York University and has advanced training in Applied Behavior Analysis.

Alexis Biddle
Urban Circuit Rider
(541) 797-6761 | Alexis@friends.org

Alexis joined 1000 Friends in 2018 as the Urban Circuit Rider addressing issues within urban growth boundaries throughout the state. He holds undergraduate degrees in Geography and Philosophy from Kent State University in his home state of Ohio, and a Masters in Community and Regional Planning and a Law degree from the University of Oregon. While in law school, Alexis was a commissioner on Eugene's Sustainability Commission. He has worked at the Oregon Department of Transportation and as a consultant working on issues related to emerging transportation technologies such as automation and shared mobility. He is particularly concerned with the equity and land use implications of the rapidly evolving transportation industry. 

Lily Burnett
Executive Coordinator and Board Liaison 
(503) 497-1000 x129 | Lily@friends.org

Lily joined 1000 Friends in February 2018. Originally from Los Angeles, she studied Theater Arts at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she earned her BA before moving to Portland, OR. Lily has been here for 6 years now and has worked with many local, arts-focused nonprofits such as: Kúkátónón, Vanport Mosaic Festival, The Color of NOW, Cerimon House, and BodyVox. She is excited to be a part of the 1000 Friends team!

Meriel Darzen  
Circuit Rider Staff Attorney
(541) 797-6761 | Meriel@friends.org

Meriel joined 1000 Friends of Oregon in 2016 as the Circuit Rider Staff Attorney. She focuses on land use issues affecting rural Oregon and rural Oregonians, including the conservation of farm and forest lands. Meriel has a law degree and a Masters in Forest Resources from the University of Washington and a Bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University. Prior to joining 1000 Friends, Meriel practiced law in Bend and volunteered with numerous organizations including Sierra Club and Oregon League of Conservation Voters. Before becoming an attorney she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic where she helped build a USAID-funded fruit-tree nursery.   

Robin Jennings
Administrative Assistant
(503) 497-1000 x125 | robin@friends.org

Prior to joining 1000 Friends in June 2008, Robin Jennings worked for 13 years for the American Tinnitus Association as Executive Assistant. Robin moved with her family to Oregon from Hawaii in October of 1967. Her first memory of Oregon is the color gray. She earned her BS in History from Portland State University. 

Madeline Kovacs
Program Coordinator, Portland for Everyone
(503) 497-1000 x137 | Madeline@friends.org

Prior to joining 1000 Friends, Madeline worked for Orange Splot LLC, a small housing development company and general contractor. She has also interned for two years at the City of Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability. In addition to her experience in urban planning, Madeline brings over a decade of entrepreneurial nonprofit fundraising, organizing, and leadership gained predominantly through her work with the youth climate movement, including 3 years co-directing Project Survival Media. She earned her BA in Political Science with a minor in Environmental Studies from Macalester College. Madeline also serves on the board of Proud Ground. 

Alyson Marchi-Young
Marketing and Communications Strategist
(503) 497-1000 x124 | alyson@friends.org

Alyson joined the 1000 Friends team in August 2015 after spending 7 years in non-profit development for other Oregon institutions, OMSI and OPB. Working with business donors, she honed her marketing skills developing media plans, supporting event outreach, crafting public communications and more for her clients. Alyson is a passionate storyteller, news-junkie, project manager, and an outgoing advocate driven to create positive change, stir passion, and build community. She studied Theatre Arts with an emphasis on literary criticism and historic analysis, and Political Science at the University of Puget Sound and Southern Oregon University.


Emily Mercer, Development Associate

Emily Mercer
Development Associate | Gift Processing & Data Management
(503) 497-1000 x134 | emily@friends.org

Emily joined 1000 Friends in 2018. She holds a BA in Media Arts from the Evergreen State College and is currently pursuing a Masters in Archives and Records Administration from San Jose State University as part of a distance learning program. Emily has volunteered at several non-profits working to improve the urban tree canopy, restore native species, and educate citizens about environmental legislation. At 1000 Friends, she gleans from previous professional experiences including higher education student database management, independent theater management, and technology tutoring aiming to bridge the digital divide. A true lover of Oregon, Emily is thrilled to be on the 1000 Friends team!