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Board of Directors

The Friends is governed by a volunteer Board, consisting of 5 to 13 members. The Board meets monthly and welcomes visitors to these meetings. 

Monthly Board Meeting minutes available upon request. Email us at

These volunteers make up our current Board.

Pat Welle, President

Pat retired in 2019 from over twenty years in conservation in the Pacific Northwest. She spent many years working with farmers to reduce agriculture impacts to groundwater and restoring tributaries in the Columbia River estuary for salmon. Pat is also a photographer who recently completed two books on the Columbia River estuary and now resides on the shore of Willapa Bay. She is active in revegetation projects (including an acre of her property being planted to forest and pollinator meadow), and continually explores the bay and nearby coastal forests and wetlands, usually with camera in hand.

Sylvia Pelizza, Secretary

Sylvia Pelizza, Treasurer

Sylvia is a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee having served 37 years at 12 different Refuges. She traveled across the country managing lands and waters along the northeast coast, in Florida’s everglades, in the pothole country of the Dakotas, in southwest deserts, in the Pacific Islands, and in the Pacific Northwest. Sylvia retired to the Long Beach Peninsula. Because of her commitment to refuges, she also serves on the board for the National Wildlife Refuge Association. 

David Hoch, Director

Dave is a Friends member since 2006 when he and his wife Karen moved to the peninsula from Longview. They both joined the friends after being inspired by an animal skull presentation at the Ilwaco Saturday market. Both Dave and Karen have officially retired in 2020 from their day jobs. Dave has served on the board a few times over the years in different capacities and enjoys the camaraderie of the Friends group and is looking forward to another chapter in the ongoing story of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge.

Charlie Pelizza, Director

Retiring in 2017 after a 39-year career with refuges from across the Nation, Charlie settled on Long Beach Peninsula, partway between the shores of Willapa Bay and the Pacific Ocean.  He immediately began volunteering for Willapa National Wildlife Refuge and the Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge and has been a member of the Board since 2020 where he continues to enjoy supporting the conservation and management of our wildlife resources.  In his spare time, you can find him enjoying all manner of watersports, hunting, fishing, camping, and visiting with family and friends.

Karen Strege, Director

Karen is a retired librarian having worked in communities in the Pacific Northwest and Montana. She spent many childhood vacations on the Long Beach Peninsula; after she retired she felt the pull of this unique place and decided, with her husband, to make the Peninsula her retirement home. She has served on the Board since 2019 and enjoys using her research and communication skills to help the Friends thrive and the Refuge to meet its goals.

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