By Amanda Smith, public affairs officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Region
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced Kessina Lee as the new Oregon state supervisor. With over 12 years in conservation, Lee is new to the Service and brings with her a wealth of experience conducting scientific research and coordinating with Tribal, federal, state, and local partners.
”We are extremely fortunate to have recruited Kessina Lee to our Oregon project leader position. Her past experience in conservation and policy along with her passion for the people side of our work make her uniquely qualified for this position,” says Kate Norman, assistant regional director for Ecological Services in the Service’s Pacific Region.
Since 2018, Lee has served as the regional director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and will take the helm as Oregon’s state supervisor for the Service’s Pacific Region in January. Prior to her work with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Lee served as the statewide aquaculture specialist for the Washington Department of Ecology where she focused on ensuring compliance with the Clean Water Act.
Lee is a California native and grew up in rural eastern Arizona but has called the Pacific Northwest home for more than 30 years. “I feel like the Pacific Northwest – especially the Pacific Ocean – is in my DNA. My childhood was spent exploring beaches and I have raised my own kids in this ecosystem. I feel so fortunate that I have been able to dedicate my life to protecting this place,” says Lee.
With both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in biology from Portland State University, Lee went on to obtain a geospatial information system mapping certificate in order to research marine mammal strandings and causes of mortality.
After several years spent in the necropsy and skeletal articulation labs, Lee went to work on the policy aspects of marine ecosystems as an Oregon Sea Grant policy fellow staffing the Coastal Caucus in the Oregon Legislature. This position led Lee to an opportunity to work on ocean policy issues for Governor Kate Brown.
Lee is looking forward to returning to Oregon with her new position as state supervisor.
“I consider Oregon my home and I am excited to be here again with a statewide team, across the varied landscapes and issues here,” says Lee. “As an Oregonian, I know there are long-standing issues related to species recovery and habitat loss, and the effects of are exacerbating those issues. My goal is to create new partnerships and strategies for climate resilience in habitats and populations.”
As a lifelong conservationist, it is no surprise that even when Lee isn’t on the clock, she is outdoors. Avid gardeners, Lee and her husband like to spend their free time cultivating the many fruit trees in their backyard orchard, riding bikes, and going on adventures with her 1-year-old German shorthaired pointer, Archie.
Lee and her husband Scott biking outside Joseph, Oregon. Personal photo used with permission.