Ellen Waterston is a literary arts advocate and award-winning poet and author. Before coming to PLAYA as executive director, she founded and for twelve years directed the Nature of Words, a literary arts nonprofit based in Bend, Oregon. The Waterston Desert Writing Prize, established in 2014, is awarded annually to nonfiction projects concerning deserts. Waterston authored the feasibility study for what is now the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing at OSU-Cascades in Bend. The Writing Ranch, founded in 2000, offers writing workshops and retreats for emerging and established writers. Waterston’s fourth volume of poetry, Hotel Domilocos, was released April 2017. Her verse novel Vía Láctea, A Woman of a Certain Age Walks the Camino, her third collection, she converted to a libretto. It premiered as a full-length opera in 2016. Prose titles include Where the Crooked River Rises, a collection of Waterston’s award-winning essays, and a memoir, Then There Was No Mountain. She is at work on a nonfiction book that examines land use issues in the high desert and is due out from University of Washington Press in 2018.

Residency, Programming and Marketing Manager Chelsea Peil likes to joke that she is a specialized generalist, yet her purpose is rooted in the intersection of art, ecology, and education. Originally from Cheyenne, Wyoming she is no stranger to the high desert and farm & ranch life. Although, she’s grateful for this background she has always been fascinated by the many ways people can live and engage with the world. She deeply values travel and cross-cultural experiences.For the last 10 years in Portland, OR she has worked in sustainability and arts administration ranging from environmental education, sustainability coordination, events planning, and working with artists making art from trash to promote waste reduction and design innovation. She sees Playa’s mission as a natural fit for her and is excited about the job. Her own art practice involves writing, metalwork (steel, copper, enameling), jewelry making, fashion, and portable architecture. Truthfully, she never grew out of her love of dressing up and building forts.

Site and Facilities Manager Jeff Mondry is a North Dakota native who made his way to Oregon in 1984. He was drawn to the Pacific Northwest to train as a competitive nordic skier. He settled in Bend, Oregon where he raised his three children and made a career as a specialty contractor and painter for the last 30 years. Jeff’s appreciation for the great outdoors has drawn him to Summer Lake and PLAYA. He’s always happy chat about sailing in the Cascade Lakes, his recent reads, or his next adventure.




Executive Assistant Trina Williams grew up in Tillamook, OR and Kodiak, AK before graduation from Bend High. She earned an Associate’s degree from COCC in Bend, OR before going on to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education later in life. She lives in Summer Lake with her husband and daughter who is the youngest of their four children.