Chris Winter – Co-Executive Director & Staff Attorney
Chris Winter received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University in 1994 and then graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1998, where he focused on environmental and natural resources law. For three years he practiced environmental law at Stoel Rives LLP in Portland, Oregon, representing corporate clients on complex matters relating to investigation and cleanup of contaminated industrial sites, regulatory compliance and business transactions.
In 2001, he founded the Crag Law Center to provide affordable legal assistance to groups promoting conservation issues. Since that time, we has helped dozens of groups throughout Oregon, Washington and Alaska, including municipal and tribal governments, conservation organizations, citizen groups, recreational clubs and individual activists. His current practice focuses on environmental justice, salmon habitat and water quality regulation, and public land management. He is a member of the Oregon, Washington and Alaska Bars and is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the District of Oregon, and the Western and Eastern Districts of Washington, and the District of Alaska. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Lewis and Clark Law School, where for several years he taught a seminar on forest law and policy.
When Chris isn’t working, he spends time in the mountains with his wife and friends. His passion for high, wild places has led him across the continental United States and Canada and to remote locations in Alaska, Asia, Africa and Europe. He loves the mountains and wilderness of the Pacific Northwest for their unmatched opportunities for adventure and solitude.
Ralph Bloemers – Co-Executive Director & Staff Attorney
Ralph grew up on a cheese farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. After high school he left for Colorado’s Rocky Mountains to study Political Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He then worked abroad in Munich, Germany, and after that moved to Salem, Oregon, to attend law school at Willamette University. He completed an externship at 1000 Friends and a fellowship at the Nature Conservancy where he learned about environmental, land use and natural resources work. He studied international environmental law in Holland and then returned to Willamette to graduate Cum Laude in 1998. After law school, he practiced Intellectual Property, Securities and Finance law at an established Portland law firm for almost three years. Through representation of new technology, entrepreneurs and inventors, the insane demand created by the Internet “boom” and a healthy measure of initiative, Ralph gained extensive experience with the nuts and bolts of practicing law. Ralph left to commit his energy to build upon his pro bono endeavors and progressive causes and founded the Crag Law Center.
Ralph is a member of the Oregon and Washington State Bars. He is admitted to practice in the Federal District of Oregon, the Western District of Washington and the Eastern District of Washington. Ralph has developed a specialty in public lands and natural resources law and has worked with dozens of clients throughout the Pacific Northwest since Crag’s founding.
Tel: (503) 525-2728
Courtney received her JD with a certificate in environmental and natural resources law from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland. While in her first year of study, she interned with the Crag Law Center. Courtney also interned in the Office of Compliance and Enforcement at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). She also gained experience at San Francisco Baykeeper, working to protect the water quality of the San Francisco Bay. Before joining Crag, Courtney clerked for a district court judge in Ketchikan, Alaska. While there, Courtney bore witness to the wilds of Alaska and its incredible wildlife while sea kayaking, hiking and snowshoeing.
Courtney joined the Crag Law Center in 2008 and focuses her energy on the Coastal Law Project. Much of her work at Crag has focused on protecting the health of coastal rivers, from gravel mining in the rivers of the south coast, including the Chetco, the Rogue, and the Elk, to addressing proposals for Liquefied Natural Gas along the mighty Columbia at Astoria. Courtney enjoys working with coastal residents to help develop their communities for lasting and sustainable economic and environmental health.
When she is not working, Courtney enjoys spending time with her husband and puppy on the beaches and rivers and in the mountains of Oregon, hiking, skiing, kayaking, biking and surfing. She also keeps busy with her home garden, cooking, reading and traveling.
Layla Hughes lives in Juneau, Alaska and has 15 years of experience as an attorney in international and environmental law, with an emphasis in the past 10 years on Arctic issues. She received her undergraduate degrees in international relations and environmental studies at American University in Washington. D.C. and her law degree at the Georgetown University Law Center. also in Washington. She has represented the interests of her clients – including private companies. government entities. indigenous organizations, and conservation groups – in legislative efforts. litigation, and in the administrative process.
Ms. Hughes has intimate knowledge of the issues and concerns of Arctic communities, having lived in Barrow when serving as an Assistant Borough Attorney for the North Slope Borough. She also has experience working with individuals and other communities across the Arctic. Ms. Hughes served on the U.S. delegation to the Arctic Council’s Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Agreement and is a Commissioner on the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission. Ms. Hughes is a member of the Alaska, Maryland and Washington, D.C. bars.
Suzanne hails from the mountains of East Tennessee, where as a kid she hiked nearly every trail of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with her family. She received a BA from Warren Wilson College and holds a Masters Degree in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State University. Her research emphasis was asset-based community development in rural mountain communities, and she conducted research in the mining valleys of Southern Wales and in Ashe County, NC.
Suzanne has spent much of her life working on social and environmental justice issues. She worked at Appalshop, a non-profit media, arts and education center based in Whitesburg, KY. She directed Appalshop’s Traditional Music Program, and organized cultural arts education programs across Appalachia’s coal mining communities. During her time in Eastern Kentucky she became involved in the movement to challenge mountaintop removal coal mining practices and lobbied for better oversight and enforcement of the coal mining industry, including mine safety.
Suzanne came to Portland through her involvement with the Portland Old Time Music Gathering, where she serves on the Board of Directors and the organizing committee. Musically, culturally and geographically, she feels a deep connection between the Pacific Northwest and her Appalachian homeland, and enjoys exploring the region with her dog, Bella. She also enjoys living in a city where she can ride her bicycle to work! Before joining Crag full-time, Suzanne worked as an Arts Integration Facilitator for The Right Brain Initiative. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, gardening, cooking and playing banjo.
Maura received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, with a minor in Political Science, from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Having picked up the skier mentality while in Boulder, Maura moved to Park City, Utah after college to spend some time skiing the best powder in the world. In 2010, Maura moved to Portland to begin law school at Lewis & Clark. During her first summer, Maura studied international law in India. She then interned with Crag Law Center after her second year in law school. As a Crag intern, Maura had the opportunity to argue a case in front of the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals. During her third year in law school she continued to intern at Crag part-time. She also gained experience through work with the Northwest Environmental Defense Center and Earthrise Law Center at Lewis & Clark. Maura received her JD with a certificate in environmental and natural resources law in 2013.
Maura joined the Crag Law Center staff in October 2013 as a Legal Fellow. So far, Maura has been working on a variety of cases with Crag staff attorneys including challenges to projects involving NEPA and forest plan requirements, endangered species litigation, Clean Water Act enforcement and challenges to local land use decisions. Maura is a member of the Oregon State Bar and is currently preparing to sit for the Washington Bar in Winter 2014.
In her free time, Maura enjoys skiing, hiking, running, snowshoeing, and exploring all the wonder the Pacific Northwest has to offer. She also tries to make time for travel and improving her musical talents on the banjo.