PLAYA Staff

Rebecca Lawton

Executive Director

PLAYA’s gifts of time and solitude are critical to artists and scientists passionate about their work. I saw PLAYA’s effectiveness first hand as the 2015 Waterston Desert Writing Prize winner working in residence on The Oasis this Time: Living and Dying with Water in the West. The place and people here stuck with me, and I wanted to give back. Now I’m fortunate to be leading PLAYA for the benefit of other creative individuals at a time when the work we do, always important, has become life-saving. The aridity and harsh beauty of this landscape show up every day for the writers, painters, musicians, scientists, dancers, filmmakers, and other creatives who come here from around the world to respond to this place, the community, and each other. I’m convinced that PLAYA’s role is growing more influential and necessary to societal health and well-being with each passing day.

Chelsea Peil

Residency Manager

I believe in the power of art to work at deeper levels, beyond the cerebral ways of knowing into the emotional, sensual, and spiritual places of innate wisdom. Accessing these places using art can inspire a reconnection to wildness, interdependence, and ways of being that are nature informed. I love to see people come to PLAYA and free themselves of social and urban pressures so they can let the outer space into their inner worlds. With this expansion, they are more likely to listen for the gifts that they are invited to share. Creating these opportunities, conditions, and relationships to promote a global culture that cares for and reciprocates with this planet is why I do what I do.

Mark Hedrick

Site & Facilities Manager

I have been a resident of Summer Lake for 23 years, and I first visited PLAYA during a fire preparedness review for the High Desert Rangeland Fire Protection Association in July 2018. After finding out that PLAYA was hiring a full-time Site & Facilities Manager, I began work here in September 2018. My expertise in decreasing fire risk will continue to be of value, now from an insider’s view. I am a seasoned wildland firefighter, former facilities/fire manager for The Nature Conservancy, and specialist in Geographic Information Systems. I am excited to be at PLAYA and very much look forward to managing the facilities and meeting new residents from all over!

Shawna Negus

Cuisine and Lodging Manager

I love my job at PLAYA because I love food and making people feel welcome. There’s so much pleasure in imagining and creating delicious entrees, salads, and desserts for the people who come here from all over. I also take pride in readying PLAYA’s cabins for new residents. I grew up in this county but have lived in many beautiful places from Alaska to Arizona. Now I’m fortunate to call this area home again, as it’s my favorite place of all, where I have a wonderful garden, family, and many friends.

Renee Reichart

Executive Assistant

Art has the power to engage our critical thinking, spark feeling, build empathy, and support healing. Time and space are precious. Working for an organization that provides folks with access to time and space while connecting with the land is special and a large reason why I am happy to be at PLAYA. I split my time between Paisley and the Fremont-Winema National Forest. Most of all, I love living life with my family – Chad (husband), Abbi (daughter), Merle (my riding pal), Lilly (our puppy), and Kevin and Walter (partners in obscure cat behavior).