Tribe hires Kathleen Feehan George to lead Community Fund
By Dean Rhodes
Smoke Signals editor
Tribal member Kathleen Feehan George is the new director of Spirit Mountain Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.
George, 40, succeeds Tribal member Shelley Hanson Sneed, who resigned in April to become administrator of the Oregon Landscape Contractors Board in Salem.
Spirit Mountain Community Fund formed in 1997 and distributes 6 percent of Spirit Mountain Casino profits to charitable organizations in 11 counties in western Oregon and the other eight federally recognized Oregon Tribes. Since its creation, the Community Fund has granted almost $55 million.
George will run a program that includes three other employees.
“I think it is just such an honor to be able to work for Spirit Mountain Community Fund,” George said. “When I applied for the job, I thought about the work that the fund does, which is supporting nonprofits in communities, promoting education, health care, environmental protection, public safety, culture and the arts, historic preservation and the things that make our communities such great places to live. That is the work the Community Fund supports.
“So when I thought about that job, I just was so excited about the possibility of contributing to the work in those communities and to working on behalf of our Tribe to share our good fortune to do good work on the ground in the communities of western Oregon.”
George, who was raised in Milwaukie, was the Tribe’s Environmental Coordinator for six years from 1996 to 2002, developing the Tribe’s first environmental program.
She then moved to Pendleton to work for the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Reservation where she honed her skills as a water quality policy analyst and senior policy analyst.
In 2010, she left the Umatilla Tribe to open Cedar Consulting, a natural resources consulting firm.
George said her environmental consulting work will “take a huge back seat” once she starts working for the Community Fund.
“The focus of my work will be working for Spirit Mountain Community Fund,” she said.
Tribal Council Vice Chair Reyn Leno, who also sits on the Community Fund’s Board of Trustees, said he thinks George’s previous experience working for the Tribe will be a great asset as Community Fund director.
“I think Kathleen will be a great benefit to the program,” Leno said. “Her previous employment at Natural Resources gave her knowledge of all of the Tribe and its history.
“She’ll be delivering the message that the Community Fund is not just the casino; it’s all of the Tribe. Having her here will be a great thing for the Tribe.”
George said her first task once she starts working for the Community Fund in October is to become familiar with its current operating procedures and its 14-year history.
“It’s going to be exciting time to look over the success of the fund to date. We’re coming up on a 15-year anniversary of huge contributions to communities and nonprofits,” she said. “I think 15 years is a wonderful opportunity to look at our success to date, look at the goals of the fund and see how much progress we have made in accomplishing those goals, and are there any ways in which the Board of Trustees and Tribal Council might want to pursue those goals differently in the next 15 years.”
George received her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology from Dominican University of California.
She is married to Rick George and has two sons, Noah, 7, and Sean, 3, who are both members of the Grand Ronde Tribe.
The family is moving back to the Willamette Valley, perhaps to the McMinnville area.
“That was another huge appeal of this position,” George said. “It was a wonderful opportunity for my family and my two little boys to move back closer to the Tribe, to Tribal culture and family. We’re really looking forward to it.”
According to her LinkedIn profile, George’s hobbies include gardening, hiking, basket making and beadwork.