Our Team

at Friends

Stephanie Buffum

Stephanie Buffum Executive Director


Stephanie’s background in public administration and planning informs her leadership on sustainable practices, cultural restoration, energy, and economic development. She has worked in the environmental protection sector for over 22 years throughout the West, including with the Center for Biological Diversity, focusing on federal endangered species protection, landscape management, and rural community development. As Executive Director since 2001, Stephanie manages all projects, staff, contractors, community outreach, research, fundraising and board development. Stephanie resides on Shaw Island with her husband and son.

Tina Whitman Science Director


Tina has managed shoreline research, restoration, and protection programs at Friends since 2002. Following her Master’s in Science, with a focus on the application of biological data to improved land management. She spent twenty five years in habitat conservation in the northeast and the northwest. Tina served eight years on the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee and is a current member of the County’s Salmon Recovery Technical Advisory Group. She lives on Orcas Island with her family and is happiest on a beach, for work or play.

Tina Whitman
Shannon Davis

Shannon Davis Grant Manager


Shannon works to safeguard the Salish Sea from the net zero home she and her husband built in Port Townsend. She holds a Master’s degree in Urban Planning with an emphasis on natural resource management and an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies. As Grants Manager, Shannon is in charge of grant writing and grant management, she also assists with projects, education, and many other activities.She joined the Friends staff in 2003.

Katie Fleming Community Engagement Director


Katie lives on San Juan Island with her family and is passionate about exploring, enjoying and protecting the Salish Sea ecosystem. Katie’s background is in sustainable community development and environmental education. She holds a Masters in Natural Science Education from Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University and a BA in Telecommunications from Indiana University. As the Community Engagement Director, Katie manages membership and community relations, marketing, media relations and special events. She has been with Friends since 2012.

Lovel Pratt Marine Protection Program Director


Lovel joined Friends in 2018. Her previous consulting work focused on maritime shipping and oil spill prevention on behalf of environmental groups, including Friends of the San Juans. Lovel was elected to the San Juan County Council in 2008, serving for one term, and was appointed by the Washington State Association of Counties to represent counties on several regional and state-wide oil spill prevention committees. Lovel served on the VTRA (Vessel Traffic Risk Assessment) 2010 and VTRA 2015 Working Groups. Lovel is the environmental representative on the Puget Sound Harbor Safety Committee, and a member of the Governor’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery and Task Force’s Vessels Working Group and the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee.

Jan Sanburg Operations Manager


Jan has called Shaw Island home since 1968 and enjoys many aspects of small scale farming, including the importance of how everything is connected; and how we must all work to keep the environment healthy. She and her son also enjoy spending time at the beach, and camping in the PNW. The islands are a special place to call home and it is important to protect it.
Jan joined Friends in 2017 as the Operations Manager and brings with her 23 years of professional experience along with a BS in Business Administration; Marketing, and Accounting along with a recent certification in Project Management.

Michel Vekved Director of Philanthropy


Michel’s depth and diversity of experience in the nonprofit sector align with her appreciation for preservation and protection of our island environment, and drive her vision to engage individuals with inspiration and integrity around environmental issues, sustainability and a thriving community. As Director of Philanthropy, Michel will cultivate philanthropic strategic planning and implementation through engagement with membership and restoration partners to support and protect the ecology of our landscape and the Salish Sea. Michel holds a degree in Political Science from Western Washington University and a Masters of Science in Organizational Development and Philanthropy from University of Denver. Michel has called the San Juan islands home since 2006. She lives on Orcas Island. She joined the Friends staff in 2018.

Stephanie Buffum
Stephanie Buffum

Jess Newley Marine Program Assistant


Jess Newley has been passionate about marine conservation since her first SCUBA dive under the surface 10 years ago. What some would call an obsession, this passion has led her down a path with a career in science education and conservation. In 2013 she graduated from Western Washington University with a Master’s degree in Environmental Education and a certificate in non-profit administration. She is excited to bring her skills and enthusiasm as an educator and scientist to the San Juan island community. As Marine Program Assistant she will be helping Friends with our Pacific Sand Lance research during winter spawning times and boater/community education programs the rest of the year.

Jennifer Barcelos Staff Attorney


Jennifer Barcelos became a devoted environmental advocate in 3rd grade (after winning her county’s science fair for an exhibit on the effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on sea birds). She is an attorney, a changemaker, and an entrepreneur. Jennifer graduated Phi Beta Kappa from U.C. Berkeley, received a master’s degree in Environmental Science from Yale, and served as a Gates Public Service Law Scholar at the University of Washington School of Law. After graduation, Jennifer taught for two years at UW Law School, co-founded the climate justice nonprofit, Three Degrees Warmer, and built a successful women-led tech startup in the wellness industry. Jennifer is the author/editor of multiple papers and publications, including the textbook “Climate Change: A Reader” published in 2011 by Carolina Academic Press. Jennifer has conducted field work around the world, from Cambodia to Kashmir (where she received a grant to study the environmental and public health impacts of the military standoff between India and Pakistan). Drawn to politics early, Jennifer worked as a staff member to former Vice President Al Gore and served in environmental leadership roles for two presidential campaigns. She lives on Orcas Island with her family.

Jennifer Barcelos

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