With its sparse desert and snowy peaks, Central Oregon resonates profoundly with Gail’s Australian roots. Her deep love of place and community derive from her childhood as a minister’s daughter.
At 17, Gail spent a year in Japan as an exchange student, and after a year of university in Australia (during which she focused on rock climbing and back country skiing, neither part of any curriculum), she dropped out of college to go exploring.
During that period, Gail worked on a prawn trawler and harvested potatoes in Western Australia, and worked the tobacco harvest in Ontario, Canada. With her American husband (whom she met on a trail in New Zealand), she hitchhiked through Australia, North America, and Mexico, and rode on a train that derailed near the Mexico/Guatemala border. They slept in farmers’ fields, were welcomed into strangers’ homes on many occasions, and one time hunkered down on a picnic bench in Washington.
In Colorado, Gail earned two degrees in physical geography. Her work on Pikes Peak led her into environmental advocacy work and the nonprofit world. She has founded and served as executive director of nonprofits in both the social justice and conservation arenas. Gail has also run political campaigns and worked in Salem as a legislative aide. Before leaving the Portland metro four years ago, she took a break from environmental work and taught English and citizenship to refugees from countries as far spun as Somalia, Eritrea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bhutan, and Burma.
Gail is a dual citizen and has resided permanently in the US since 1982. She and her husband fled the city and moved to Bend when he retired in 2013. Gail then worked with Central Oregon LandWatch before leaving to co-found the Coalition for the Deschutes in 2016.
Gail and her husband have two big kids and one little granddaughter, as well as beloved pets. She ran trail ultramarathons for more than 20 years, but now settles for hiking, kayaking, riding her bike, and trekking in the Himalayas. She loves to watch the birds at her feeder, finds great joy in her xeriscaped front yard, and is passionate about restoring the Deschutes River.
You can read a profile about Gail in the June 7, 2017 issue of Source Weekly here.