Meet the Staff

Carolyn Purcell, Executive Director,
Office: 541.296.8600 ext. 245

Carolyn has been with the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center since 2001, and has served as executive director since 2008.  She has a Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies focusing on History and Cultural Geography and over 30 years of professional museum experience. “The great thing about the history of the Mid-Columbia region is that it is intersected by so many fascinating themes in national history, offering dynamic interpretive programs and exhibits.  We will never run out of new ways to engage our visitors.”

Robbie Smith

Robbie Smith, Director of Education
Office: 541.296.8600 ext. 209

Robbie Smith has been teaching and interpreting cross-curricular content in the outdoors for over five years. He has worked with all age groups, specifically, K-12 in the public school system of Arizona and Oregon, with additional experience teaching and managing adult learners in the outdoors. Robbie’s background is in Fine Arts, Outdoor Education, and most recently, bridging Natural History with the Visual Arts. He graduated from Prescott College with a B.A. in Secondary Education and Visual Arts and enjoys painting and hiking. He says, “I love this area of the country and am very passionate about the Columbia River Gorge.  I have spent a lot of time in this part of Oregon and to share my interest in earthworks, ornithology, ecology, and natural history with students of all ages.”

Susan Buce, Marketing Manager
Office: 541.296.8600 ext. 215

Susan Buce brings over 35 years of marketing, advertising, and sales experience to the team. She produces the advertising and marketing materials that promote the Discovery Center, and networks with organizations in the area. Her long-time interest in promoting the gorge and local history makes this a good fit for the self-proclaimed “history queen.” As “Lulu Crandall, Wasco County’s first historian,” and an occasional tour guide, she performs living history for cruise ship visitors and tells stories of early pioneer days in “Dalles City.”

Shawn McCleary, Museum Store Manager/Buyer
Office: 541.296.8600 ext. 243

Shawn brings 16 years of retail experience after owning and operating a retail store from 1996-2012. Married with 3 adult children, 2 grandkids, and 2 Labrador retrievers, Shawn loves spending time with her family, as well as her kindle. “Enhancing the visitor experience by providing just the right keepsake to take home is my mission.”

Josh Jaco, Café and Catering Manager
Office: 541.296.8600 ext. 244

Josh likes to cook and provide excellent customer service.  “I enjoy making people feel welcome and well cared for.  Serving high quality food with efficiency is my passion.”

Bambi Foy, Raptor Education Coordinator
Office: 541.296.8600 ext. 210

Bambi began her career at the age of 13 when as an Iowa farm girl she worked for a veterinarian taking care of animals after surgery. This led to several opportunities in which she worked with primates, bears, cats, psittacines, and other wild and endangered species. She worked at a variety of zoos and wildlife centers, while also volunteering at every opportunity to expand her knowledge and education. She began specializing in raptors while living in Colorado and working with a traveling education team. “Coming to the Discovery Center has been a wonderful fit with my experience and passion in providing education in the wildlife and environmental fields.”

Marie Bailey

Marie Bailey, Membership Coordinator/Administrative Assistant
Office: 541.296.8600 ext. 200

Marie keeps things in the office organized and processes the memberships. She assists with the bookkeeping and helps keep everything flowing smoothly.

Katherine Purcell, Collections Registrar
Office: 541.296.8600 ext. 242

Katherine manages the vast collection of artifacts donated to the museum.  “I have the most interesting job.  In order to catalog and best care for collections, I spend a lot of time researching.  Digging through old newspapers and manuscripts and doing research online is always fascinating.”

Charlie Powell, Facility Maintenance Technician
Office: 541.296.8600 ext. 213

Charlie maintains the facility and grounds, while overseeing other custodial and maintenance staff. He likes to trouble shoot and solve mechanical problems. When off-duty he spends time hiking, hunting and fishing.

Michael Powell, Facility Maintenance Assistant
Office: 541.296.8600 ext. 213

Michael assists with the facility and grounds, and helps with the AV equipment. When off-duty he also likes to spends time hiking, hunting and fishing.

Mandi McCleary, Store Assistant, Event Coordinator
Office: 541.296.8600 ext. 201

Mandi assists in the Columbia River Trading Co. with both the store and the front admissions desk, as well as coordinating special events.