Welcome Al, Our New Development Coordinator!

Al Kolenda (she/her) just joined our team as the Development Coordinator! In this role, Al will be supporting fundraising activities and building relationships with our members at The Environmental Center. Al lives in Redmond and is an avid kayaker, motorcyclist, and fluent French-speaker. She started her position in September and has already been a wonderful addition to the team with her strong organizational skills and upbeat, welcoming demeanor.

You will likely hear from Al in the near future as we work on our end-of-year giving campaign, membership renewals, and launch into Mountainfilm on Tour planning for February! For you to get to know Al a little better, we asked her a few questions and her answers are below.

You can reach Al via email at or by calling her at 541-508-5556.

Q&A with Al:

What are you looking forward to the most about joining the team as our Development Coordinator?

I’m looking forward to getting to know our members and getting to join the environmental community in Central Oregon! This will be my first opportunity to practice fundraising and grant writing skills, so I’m looking forward to building those skills and seeing where they can take The Environmental Center.

You have an impressive background in international studies and are a fluent French speaker! What motivated you to learn French and/or study international development?

Deciding to learn French was a funny story…my sister was learning Spanish, and so would talk behind our family’s backs in Spanish. I wanted to do the same to her, but in French. But then, I fell in love with the language and the culture, and decided to pursue it throughout high school, college, and grad school. Then I took my French language skills overseas, and moved to French Guiana where I grew a passion for international development work. I saw the communities there that really needed help and were neglected by the French government. In the future, I look forward to combining my fundraising and grant writing skills with international work to support French-speaking communities in developing countries. 

What are some ways that you like to get out and connect to the environment here in Central Oregon?

I LOVE whitewater kayaking. After moving to Central Oregon, I became obsessed! I learned how to kayak in South America, but after moving around the US I didn’t find a community of kayakers until I moved to Oregon. The kayaking community is huge here and I was quickly welcomed. Some of my favorite rivers are the White Salmon in WA, the Snake river in ID, and the North Santiam here in Oregon. 

Any favorite podcasts/books/media that you think everyone should know about?

Untamed by Glennon Doyle is a really inspiring story of women’s empowerment and choosing your own path, but I think everyone would love this one whether you are female identifying or not.

There’s also a graphic novel that I’m really into called Elf Quest. The whole series was written in the 1980s-90s. It’s interesting because it has really forward thinking/progressive ideas for the time, like having dark-skinned elves and Queer characters, and it took a really long time for the author to find someone to publish it because back then no one wanted to support a progressive project like that, but now it’s really popular!

Bonus halloween question! What’s been your best Halloween costume of all time?

My partner and I went as the couple from Up (the Pixar movie). My partner was the old man with the cane, and we had little pins and we attached balloons to my overalls, and we won a costume contest!