our staff

Elizabeth Schmitz
Executive Director

We welcome our new Executive  Director Elizabeth Schmitz. Elizabeth’s passion for agriculture began when she enrolled in an urban farm course at the University of Oregon in 1997. For Schmitz, farming represents the intersection of her interest in science and the real-world need to feed and nurture people.

Schmitz, a Certified Master Environmental Educator, holds a Bachelor of Science in Geography with a Minor in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon and a Master of Science from Western Kentucky University. She also holds a Permaculture Certificate from the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center in Sonoma County, California.

Last year Elizabeth and her husband returned to Oregon, where they look forward to enjoying the scenic beauty of her home state. When she is not on the farm or out in nature, you’ll probably find Elizabeth tending to her own kitchen garden. She is thrilled to have been selected as the new Executive Director and looks forward to the challenge of stewarding of the Sauvie Island Center to new heights.

Sarah Philips
Education Program Manager

Photo May 17, 2 23 09 PMSarah joined the Sauvie Island Center team in 2016. She grew up in suburban Kansas City and first became captivated by the outdoors after attending summer camp in the Colorado Rockies.

Sarah originally came to the northwest to work at Mount St. Helens, where she spent five seasons as a park ranger. She received her BA in Environmental Education from Western Washington University. She has also worked as an outdoor instructor for OMSI, Trackers Earth, Georgia 4-H, and most recently worked as an outreach educator at the Oregon Zoo. Sarah is passionate about helping kids to discover their own personal connection with the natural world and become environmental stewards.

When she isn’t out on Sauvie Island, Sarah spends her time hiking, cycling, playing guitar, and tending her own garden. She is also an avid baker and cook, and especially loves to experiment with fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Joanne Lazo
Marketing Manager

Joanne Lazo joined the Sauvie Island Center staff  in March of 2011 as Marketing Manager.  She grew up in the Pacific Northwest where her first job was picking strawberries on the small farms that dotted the hills west of Salem.

After graduating from the University of Oregon and spending several post-college years working in advertising in New York City, the beauty and bounty of Oregon called her home. Recently, Joanne served as Marketing Director for the Portland Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, where she developed and administered the school’s corporate giving program, supporting numerous Portland-area education non-profits.

Joanne has always been committed to community service, volunteering with the Volunteer Action Committee of Eugene while in college. While living in New York she tutored elementary school kids at a local homeless shelter. When she returned to Oregon, Joanne continued her volunteer work with local education-based non-profit organizations.  The Sauvie Island Center allows Joanne to merge her two passions: commitment to community and a love of fresh, local food.


Jules MontesJules Montes
Program Coordinator

Jules Montes moved to Portland 9 years ago from North Carolina. Following her passion for health and wellness she became a certified yoga teacher, completed an organic farming apprenticeship through OSU Extension, and is pursing a BS in Community Health Education with a minor in Graphic Design. Since 2014 she has worked with the Sauvie Island Center in multiple roles including lead educator, summer camp counselor, managing the Grow Lunch Garden, volunteer coordinator, and promoting community engagement.

Jules brings enthusiasm for connecting children and communities to land stewardship and to organic produce. Her favorite thing about working with the Sauvie Island Center is seeing kids’ excitement when they taste fresh vegetables straight from the Grow Lunch Garden!

When she’s not on the farm, Jules enjoys yoga, backpacking, rock climbing, digital and film photography, and playing the ukulele.


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