Serin Bussell has been a Board Member of Crag since 2014 and the Board Chair since 2015. She has very extensive experience working in nonprofit organizing, advocacy, financial analysis, management and campaigning. At the same time, she has a burning passion for the environment and nature. When she first became a board member, she was really impressed with Crag’s ability to do so much with limited resources and a small team. “They take on big corporations, tackle big problems and win for all of us!”

Serin’s family instilled in her a love of nature and the environment at a young age. She went on to study Geology at Portland State University. Geology gave her greater appreciation for the air, water and land on the Earth around us. As a Geology student, Serin has gone on a lot of field trips. However, her favorite place is the Grand Canyon. “It’s a magical place for scientists, for artists, for outdoor enthusiasts. I love going there and getting away from technology and traffic and modern conveniences. The vastness of it is awe-inspiring and the tranquility is refreshing for the soul.” Immersion in the beauty of nature encouraged Serin to pursue a career path dedicated to preserve that beauty.

Serin worked as an Operations Manager at the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists, and then a Contracts and Finance Analyst at the Xerces Society. Through her connections in the environmental field, she learned about Crag and decided to volunteer with Suzanne in the Development Office. It was through Suzanne that she began learning about the work they did. In the Development Office, she entered donor information in the database, helped write thank you letters, made end of year donation phone calls, and assisted with grant research and got a glimpse into how a small non-profit manages its program work along with fundraising and communications. “Crag does a good job of using its website to let people know what they are all about, and they are getting better all the time with email campaigns and social media,” she observed. Aside from general communications and publicity, Serin believes the real mechanism for fundraising involves more interactive elements. “The real high-value interaction comes from one-on-one time with supporters at various events. Crag does a great job of maximizing its time with people and turning them into volunteers and donors.” Serin notes that Crag staff honestly care about their supporters and try as much as possible to establish personal connections with them and engage local communities. She thinks this is probably one of the key factors for Crag’s success today.

Another thing that Serin pointed out was that being a law center, Crag is different from other environmental conservation groups. Most notably, Crag does not have its own agenda – it does not focus on a certain place or one single issue. Crag is client-focused, working with community and conservation groups around the Pacific Northwest to address issues on the local and regional level. Crag’s legal expertise allows it to strike at the heart of an environmental issue, and its small size gives it more flexibility to tackle problems faced by local communities. In her opinion, “The other side always has more money and more resources, but we have more passion and tenacity, and you can’t buy that.” It is extremely important for any grassroots organization to leverage that passion​​ to get people out talking about its cause, ​supporting it with their time and money, and fostering the next generation of people who will keep the momentum going. In Serin’s opinion, Crag has been very successful in all these areas.

“They are the Swiss Army knife of nonprofits –- they have a lot of tools packed in to a compact kit and can do a lot with what they have.”

At the time of our interview, Serin is working as the Campaign Manager of Charles Gallia for Oregon, wherein she has embarked on a new journey in the world of political campaigns. She is quite busy these days and encourages Crag staff to keep up the great work. “They do incredible work to protect the special places we have in the Pacific Northwest with a small, but mighty, crew of staff. They never cease to amaze me and I am so proud to be on their board.”

 


Haotian Wang is a DukeEngage Intern at Crag for Summer 2018. He is a rising sophomore at Duke University majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics. Haotian is interested in learning about the dynamics between environmental nonprofits, the government and the private sector.