Oregon Zoo Bond Citizens' Oversight Committee

Find out how your citizen representatives are monitoring zoo planning, construction and spending.

When voters supported a bond for zoo improvements in 2008, they also approved forming a committee of citizens to monitor how their dollars are spent. Learn more about your citizen representatives.

In 2008, voters across the Portland metropolitan region supported a $125 million bond for Oregon Zoo improvements. The bond put the zoo in a strong position to protect animal health and safety, increase access to conservation education and reduce water and energy consumption. The projects include a Veterinary Medical Center, Penguinarium Filtration Upgrade, Condors of the Columbia, Elephant Lands, Education Center, Polar Passage (polar bear habitat), Primate Forest (primate habitat) and Rhino Habitat.

Committee members

The Oregon Zoo Bond Citizens' Oversight Committee was created to provide a third-party review of the Oregon Zoo Infrastructure and Animal Welfare Bond Program to the Metro Council and citizens. The committee is looking at how decision-making occurs and how business is conducted, as well as determining whether the program is on the right path in terms of structure, management, expenditures, personnel and achievement of defined goals. Members include professionals with experience in construction, sustainability, animal welfare, labor, finance, public budgeting and auditing, and general business.

Committee Chair: Ruth Shelly

Ruth Shelly, executive director of Portland Children’s Museum, leads a learning complex that consists of a children’s museum, private preschool, public K-5 charter school and research center, with a total staff of 37 full-time and 28 part-time employees, $3.8 million annual budget, and almost 313,000 visitors annually. Shelly is a lifelong museum professional who started in exhibit design and moved to administration, serving in art, history, natural history, and science museums – as well as an aquarium – before entering the children’s museum field. She has served on museum association boards at the state, regional, and national level, having recently completed two terms with the Association of Children’s Museums. In her present role, Shelly is at the nexus of informal, formal and professional learning, and is particularly interested in the role that museums can play in shaping the future of educational systems in the United States. Prior to moving to Portland in 2013, Shelly served as Executive Director of the Madison Children’s Museum during its move to a renovated historical building, which became the first LEED-certified museum in Wisconsin, and a 2011 recipient of the IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

Committee Vice Chair: Susan Hartnett

Susan Hartnett has more than 25 years of experience in urban planning and development. Her career includes more than 20 years with City of Portland bureaus, including planning, transportation and water; she currently serves as the spectator venues program manager in the Office of Management and Finance. Hartnett has also worked for the City of Tigard, Oregon Heath & Science University, the City of Chicago and several private sector companies. She earned her Bachelor of Science in criminalistics from the University of Illinois and her master’s in urban and regional planning from Portland State University, and is an active member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Daniel Aja

Daniel Aja is the senior vice president and chief medical officer at Banfield Pet Hospital, where he leads internal and external medicine initiatives at the world’s largest veterinary practice. Prior to joining Banfield in 2014, Dr. Aja served as director of U.S. professional and veterinary affairs at Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Previously, he owned and directed the Cherry Bend Animal Hospital in Traverse City, Michigan. Dr. Aja earned his veterinary medical degree from the college of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University, and has more than 32 years of experience, credibility and commitment to delivering the highest quality of veterinary medicine. He is a past president of the American Animal Hospital Association and served on the Michigan State Board of Veterinary Medicine. He is also the founding board member of Partners for Healthy Pets, a committee of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation created to ensure pets receive the preventative health care they deserve.

Noah Bishop

Noah Bishop is an attorney and the proud father of two young zoo enthusiasts. A graduate of Lewis and Clark Law School, he has focused his practice on debtor-creditor law, and now runs his own law firm, Bishop Bankruptcy Law. He volunteers at The Bankruptcy Clinic, a free service provided by the lawyers of the Oregon State Bar.

Heidi Goertzen

Heidi Goertzen is the chief compliance officer for Ferguson Wellman Capital Management, overseeing the company’s regulatory and compliance matters. Prior to joining the firm, she worked for RVK, Inc. as an investment analyst for several years before serving as investment associate for seven years. She earned a B.S. in finance from Linfield College and holds a MBA with a concentration in finance from the University of Portland’s Pamplin School of Business.

Deborah Herron

Deborah Herron is the director of public affairs and government relations for Walmart in Oregon and several other Western states. Walmart has been a strong supporter of the Oregon Zoo, and Herron has been instrumental in ensuring this connection, including serving on the Oregon Zoo Foundation's Board of Trustees. Previous to her work at Walmart, she was a principal at Vox Public Relations in Portland. She is well known and connected in the public affairs community, bringing collaboration, curiosity, careful thinking, passion, enthusiasm and a solution-oriented approach to engage audiences.

Mickey Lee

Mickey Lee an energy advisor with NW Natural working with construction contractors and clients to ensure new service is effective and efficient, and utilizing her background in workforce equity, construction and relationship management. Prior to that, she was a project manager at MPower Oregon, where she oversaw the rehab development of energy and water efficiency in the multifamily affordable housing market across the state of Oregon. She has a background in project development and management, working with clients across the US to mitigate carbon emissions. Her work has a strong emphasis on environmental and social equity. She has been recognized nationally for helping to bridge the gap between private and public entities. She holds an MBA in sustainable development from Bainbridge Graduate Institute at Pinchot University and is accredited through the national Building Performance Institute.

Jill Mellen

Jill Mellen is a research biologist whose areas of expertise include animals, animal welfare and enhancing guest experiences in informal learning settings such as zoos and aquariums. Dr. Mellen has worked in the zoo and aquarium field for more than three decades. Most recently she was the Education and Science Director at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where she researched a range of topics from elephant welfare to inspiring children to conservation action. Within the Association and Zoos and Aquariums, Dr. Mellen has held many leadership positions. Her current projects include coordinating studies on marine animal welfare. Early in her career, Dr. Mellen worked at the Oregon Zoo, and has moved back to Portland after her retirement from the Disney Company.

Daniel Morris

Dr. Daniel Morris is principal of Daniel Morris Research, LLC. He received his doctorate in public health from Saint Louis University and a master’s degree in physics from the University of Michigan. As the research director for Our Oregon, Dr. Morris helped raise Oregon’s minimum wage, win paid sick leave for hundreds of thousands of Oregon workers, advocate for funding for schools and public services, and create a state-run retirement savings plan. While working as an epidemiologist for the Oregon Public Health Division, he pioneered techniques for tracking obesity with driver license data, and blew the whistle on a multibillion dollar tobacco tax evasion scheme. Dr. Morris lives in Portland with his family.

Robyn K. Pierce

Robyn K. Pierce is a professional consultant with Pierce, Bonyhadi & Associates. She assists colleges, universities and school districts with planning, development, design and construction of academic, research, housing and student service facilities. She served eight years as the director of facilities and planning at Portland State University (PSU), where she managed a department of 160 staff and had an active role in more than 1.5 million square feet of campus growth and development, including nine LEED-certified buildings and three public-private and public-public partnership projects. She managed annual budgets exceeding $100 million, including construction budgets. Pierce remains dedicated to supporting women and minority contractors in all facets of project development. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon and master’s degree at PSU.

Katherine A. Porras

Katherine A. Porras is an investment associate at Meyer Memorial Trust, responsible for monitoring and analyzing the foundation’s investments, while researching environmental, social and governance factors on portfolio holdings to inform the alignment of the investment strategy to the organization's mission. Ms. Porras has experience working in finance, legal services, and performing arts. She earned an MBA with a focus in finance from Willamette University’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management. She looks forward to contributing to the zoo, its staff and the Oregonian community at large.

Kevin Spellman

Kevin Spellman is a business consultant and trainer for construction contractors and industry professionals, following a 28-year career with commercial contractor Emerick Construction, including 18 years as president. In his Spellman Consulting, Inc. practice, he works with contractors on business strategies, development of contract management tools and techniques, and effective operational procedures. He has been an adjunct instructor in the Civil Engineering Department at Oregon State University, and at Portland Community College. He has served on several local boards, including Multnomah Education Service District, and currently chairs the Bond Accountability Committee for Portland Public Schools' bond program.

Dick Stenson

Dick Stenson retired in 2014 after more than 20 years as Tuality Helathcare president and chief executive officer. He was previously administrator of Straub Clinic & Hospital and Straub Health Plan in Honolulu, after working in San Francisco as administrator of Harkness Community Hospital and Upjohn Medical Group. He has a BS degree from the University of California, Berkeley and master's degrees in healthcare and business administration from Tulane and Loyola universities in New Orleans. Stenson is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American College of Medical Practice Executives. He serves on the boards of Hillsboro Community Foundation, Portland Community College Foundation, Virginia Garcia Clinic Foundation, Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest, Community Action, Commission on Children, Washington County Public Health, Intel Community Advisory Panel, Vision Action Network, Pacific University Acorn Foundation, Tuality Foundation, and Greater Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce.

Christine L. Taylor

Christi Taylor is an attorney with Miller Nash Graham & Dunn's business practice team and focuses on construction and general business law. She also has a particularly strong interest in energy law. In her construction practice, she assists clients through the process of building complex projects, including drafting and negotiating contracts for construction. In her general business practice, she assists clients with entity formation, contract drafting and review, corporate governance, and sales and acquisitions. Before transitioning to Miller Nash's business team, she spent three years practicing with the firm's commercial litigation group and focused on disputes involving construction claims and defects, corporate governance and insurance recovery. Ms. Taylor is also a huge polar bear fan!

Tom Turnbull

Tom Turnbull specializes in providing business and legal advice to high-growth companies and entrepreneurs. He is a co-founder and vice president of business development with OpenSesame, the largest source for elearning content in the world with more than 20,000 online courses. Turnbull previously served on the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry board of trustees for five years. He has an MBA in finance and entrepreneurial studies from New York University, a JD from the University of Washington School of Law, and a BA in philosophy from the University of Puget Sound.

Karen Weylandt

Karen Weylandt has served at Providence Health & Services for more than 25 years, and is currently chief planning and design officer for the five-state health system. She has worked in the building, construction and improvement of Providence hospitals, outpatient clinics, surgery centers and educational facilities from Alaska to California. Her leadership for the planning and construction of Providence Newberg Medical Center resulted in the first hospital in the country to earn a LEED gold designation. She also directed the planning and construction for the Providence Cancer Center in Portland. Weylandt's recent projects include a major expansion of services for Providence's downtown Seattle facilities, and a master plan for the south campus expansion at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California. Weylandt earned a degree as a registered nurse and a master's degree in health care administration. For the past seven years she has served on the Oregon Facility Authority Board, and she also served several years on the Oregon Humane Society Board.