Leadership

Traci Rossi

Traci Rossi

Executive Director

Traci Rossi

Executive Director

Traci, who was born and raised in Oregon, has over 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience with an emphasis in education, community outreach, and service to girls, women, children, and families. Traci was recently named a 2020 Woman of Influence by the Portland Business Journal. She volunteers on local boards in alignment with her personal and professional commitment to youth success and equitable access to services and systems to foster a more equitable Oregon. Traci currently sits on the Oregon State Bar’s Board of Governors, The Gray Family Foundation Board, is a founding member of the Women’s Foundation of Oregon Board and an American Leadership Forum Fellow.

Amy Knauer

Amy Knauer

Chief Finance & Operations Officer

Amy Knauer

Chief Finance & Operations Officer

aknauer@friendspdx.org

Amy is a native of Indianapolis, IN, and graduate of Ball State University with bachelor degree in organizational communications. She brings extensive experience in operational and financial leadership, building and coaching strong teams, and creating sustainable strategic plans. Amy is thrilled to join Friends of the Children-Portland. She appreciates how everyone at Friends is so committed and onboard to our purpose." I am really inspired by the core assets and how we work with our youth." When out of the office, Amy likes to hike, cycle, and cheer on the Portland Timbers from the Timbers Army.

Rachel Pearl

Rachel Pearl

Chief Program Officer

Rachel Pearl

Chief Program Officer

Rachel grew up in Santa Cruz, California and went to college at San Francisco State University. She graduated with a Bachelor’s in Psychology. She moved to Oregon almost 16 years ago. It took her awhile to love it, but does now! Rachel has been working in the Juvenile Justice system for the past 20 years developing programs for youth in the system. She is excited to work for Friends of the Children and use her skills and experience to prevent youth from ever ending up in the system. Prevention has always been her focus and working at Friends allows her to work alongside such a talented and diverse group of people using a program model that really works and has incredible outcomes. Rachel looks forward to putting her efforts towards the goals of increasing graduates ability to be self-sufficient in life. Her favorite things about Friends of the Children is that the relationship with youth is “no matter what”. The unconditional support is so unique and so greatly needed in a world which often alienates kids who make mistakes. Outside of work she loves to be with her 3 kids, playing in nature at the beach or in the forest.

Kate Sacamano

Kate Sacamano

Chief Development Officer

Kate Sacamano

Chief Development Officer

ksacamano@friendspdx.org

Kate is a life-long child advocate with twenty years of experience serving nonprofit missions. As the Chief Development Officer for the Portland Chapter, Kate leads a team of twelve development and marketing professionals in raising critical funding and elevating awareness of our bold mission to end generational poverty. Spending time in the garden or on hikes with her husband and two children provides continued inspiration and joy.

Randy Corradine

Randy Corradine

Director of Equity , Diversity, and Inclusion

Development Staff

Andrea Alejandrino

Andrea Alejandrino

Donor Relations Officer

Andrea Alejandrino

Donor Relations Officer

Andrea was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, originally from Seattle. She earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Washington in Sociology and American Ethnic Studies with a focus on Asian American Studies. Her experience includes women's advocacy, crisis counseling, and volunteer management with a Seattle area domestic violence nonprofit organization and program management and human resources in the tech industry here in Portland. After taking a career pause to be a stay-at-home parent to raise her two children, she found her way back to nonprofit mission driven work with Friends of the Children–Portland. Andrea enjoys cooking, gardening, running, and travel, but mostly loves spending time with her family in NE Portland.

Lisa Bergeson

Lisa Bergeson

Associate Director of Corporate and Donor Relations

Lisa Bergeson

Associate Director of Corporate and Donor Relations

Lisa was born in southern California and moved to Portland with her family when she was in middle school, eventually earning her degree from Oregon State University. Having worked at the Classic Wines Auction for a couple of years, Lisa loved seeing the first hand impact Friends makes on the youth in our community. She is impressed with the warmth, kindness and sense of community that resonates throughout every aspect of our donor environment and program development. She loves that in all things, Friends of the Children–Portland puts the needs of the children first. Lisa enjoys quality time with her family, planning fun trips with her girlfriends and spending time in Manzanita.

Will Bourget

Will Bourget

Grants Project Manager

Will Bourget

Grants Project Manager

Will was born in Quebec, Canada and grew up in northeastern Nevada. He went to the University of Oregon and earned his BA in Political Science and Ethnic Studies. Will appreciates the long-term commitment to youth and the agency's focus on equity. Will enjoys making music and attending concerts. Additionally, he likes to cook, make hot sauces or take his dog, Leo, for a walk.

Kim Christiansen

Kim Christiansen

Grants Manager

Kim Christiansen

Grants Manager

Kim is a native Portlander who graduated from the UO with a Journalism degree. Her background includes PR and newspaper reporting. Before joining Friends, she was a grant writer at Human Solutions for about 6 years. She appreciates the enthusiasm and energy of her colleagues and the 12.5 year commitment to each youth. Kim is a huge animal lover, avid cyclist and enjoys being outside as much as possible - especially in the summer! She also loves to read, watch movies, cook new vegetarian recipes and spend time with friends and family.

Juliana Franca Celestino

Juliana Franca Celestino

Marketing and Communications Manager

Juliana Franca Celestino

Marketing and Communications Manager

Juliana is an experienced communications strategist, having worked for Ogilvy&Mather and McCann Brazil for a diverse set of clients such as Nestlé, MasterCard, Kimberly-Clark, and UNICEF. Being a curious and passionate person, she has studied Waldorf Education, and also volunteered for many organizations in Brazil, Spain, and the U.S. Moreover when living in the Netherlands, she founded Mulher360, a support group for Brazilian immigrant women, with the objective of helping them to integrate into society, and fight depression. She moved to Portland in August 2019, where she fell in love with nature and the nice people who make this city so special. She is really happy to join Friends of the Children–Portland in this new chapter of her life, where she has found a perfect place to integrate all her knowledge and experience into a cause that she really believes.

Meiling Kimmel

Meiling Kimmel

Associate Director of Development Strategy

Meiling Kimmel

Associate Director of Development Strategy

Meiling started working in nonprofit development and fundraising in 2004 and she’s been hooked ever since. She loves the way that charitable giving empowers families and businesses to connect with each other, learn from their communities, and come together to identify solutions and make a lasting impact. She is passionate that young people should feel strengthened and supported by their communities, so Friends has been a natural fit for her since she joined the staff in 2012. Meiling loves small everyday adventures, all kinds of food and drink, and naps. If you can’t find Meiling in front of her computer, she’s probably at a park or festival, berry-picking with her family, or star-gazing from her deck.

Jim Lillis

Jim Lillis

Sr. Donor Relations Officer

Jim Lillis

Sr. Donor Relations Officer

Born and raised in Portland, Jim has worked with Friends since 2008. His favorite part of working with Friends is to have the opportunity to watch the children grow as they continue with the program throughout their childhood. Jim enjoys reading and playing poker in his free time, as well as supporting the Ducks. He is an avid traveler and most enjoys visiting Latin America.

Rose Lombino

Rose Lombino

Operations and Events Manager

Rose Lombino

Operations and Events Manager

Rose grew up in a small town in northern Nevada. She went to the University of Oregon where she studied philosophy and nonprofit management. She has been working in Development in Portland ever since. She appreciates the commitment everyone at Friends has to the mission, the youth, and the community. The energy is inspiring! When she's not working, Rose enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest and going to concerts.

Amy Prince

Amy Prince

Development & Operations Coordinator

Amy Prince

Development & Operations Coordinator

I am an avid Duck fan and love college football. I dabble with a greeting card business using a 1941 Royal Typewriter. I like to camp with family and friends to get away from it all.

Annalise Servin

Annalise Servin

Donor Relations & Volunteer Officer

Annalise Servin

Donor Relations & Volunteer Officer

Annalise was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and earned her bachelor’s in Journalism from the University of Washington in Seattle. She started her career in nonprofits right out of school and fell in love with her mission driven work. What Annalise appreciates the most about Friends of the Children is the focus on Equity and the opportunity to break the cycle of generational poverty. In her off time, Annalise enjoys being with family and friends and planning events for Womxn and QTPOC folx.

Kristy Wheeler

Kristy Wheeler

Gift Processing & Donor Specialist

Kristy Wheeler

Gift Processing & Donor Specialist

Kristy began working for nonprofits in 2014 and is originally from Canada. She just moved to the Portland area in 2018 and is loving the area so far. She loves the feeling of being with an organization that is truly making a difference. Kristy also loves music, traveling, teaching herself coding, falling in love with new foods, playing video games, and being outdoors.

Professional Mentors

Louie Arce

Louie Arce

Friend

Louie Arce

Friend

I enjoy hiking and exploring Portland parks with my youth, taking pictures of clouds and landscapes, my favorite type of foods is anything with the word berry in it, My dog Jucy Fruit is a beautiful min pin, and among my life experiences I'm happy to say I have worked for mickey mouse @WDW, built schools for youth in Honduras and I have the best job I never knew I wanted here at Friends of the Children.

Nolan Benson

Nolan Benson

Friend

Nolan Benson

Friend

Nolan was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI. (Go Brewers!) After graduating from Marquette University with a BA, he found a passion for working with youth as an AmeriCorps member with City Year in Wisconsin. He appreciates the sense of family Friends of the Children–Portland that is ever present between the youth and the staff. Nolan likes to play Pokemon Trading Card game competitively and spend time with his wife.

Paul Boddie

Paul Boddie

Friend

Paul Boddie

Friend

Paul is a proud NE Portland resident. He attended Benson Polytechnic High School and attended Lane Community College, University of Oregon and Portland State University. He was a Black Studies and Social Science Major. Paul appreciates that Friends provides an environment to be equitable and inclusive for our youth and families. Friends provides space for youth to be themselves fully which he also appreciates. Paul enjoys music, watching Oregon Ducks sports, and go to the park with his dog, Canela.

Erin Caswell

Erin Caswell

Friend

Adam Coble

Adam Coble

Friend

Adam Coble

Friend

Adam has worked with youth of all backgrounds over the last two decades, including his hometown of Spokane, California and Portland. He has lived in Portland since 2011. Adam appreciates the individualized, strength based approach at Friends. The program allows him to really build a meaningful relationship with each and every youth and empower them to achieve their goals. He loves to cook, travel, read and learn about new things.

Aidan Dahler

Aidan Dahler

Friend

Aidan Dahler

Friend

Aidan grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. After high school, he moved to Missoula, Montana and attended the University of Montana. Aidan is really excited to work at a place that is explicitly youth focused and is full of passionate people. He says," It’s clear just for the hiring and orientation process that everyone in the organization is hard working and passionate about this work." Aidan loves all sorts of outdoor activities; hiking, rock climbing and backpacking. He also enjoys video games, reading, painting and baking on a rainy day.

Rivu Dasgupta

Rivu Dasgupta

Friend

Rivu Dasgupta

Friend

I was born in Lubbock, Texas and moved to Dallas as a teenager. I’m a proud alum of the University of Missouri (M-I-Z!) where I studied Philosophy, Psychology, and Gender Studies. In Portland I’ve found a place to call home, and I look forward to being here for a good, long while.

I love the complete and total commitment to our youth, and how they’re truly at the center of everything we do.

I really enjoy all vehicles of storytelling. Graphic novels, television, film, video games, books small and large; there’s just so much good stuff out there! I also enjoy hiking with my wonderful partner and our miniature dachshund, Clementine, which is generally how I spend my weekends and summers.

Ratheany Doschin

Ratheany Doschin

Friend

Ratheany Doschin

Friend

Rath was born and raised in Vancouver and graduated from Western Washington University. She appreciates the friendships at Friends, with kids, their families and colleagues. She plays volleyball, cheers on the Seattle Mariners during baseball season and hanging out with her handsome granddad.

Mary Dunbar

Mary Dunbar

Friend

Mary Dunbar

Friend

Mary was born and raised in Portland. She attended Lincoln High School and Western Oregon University. She appreciates the long term one on one relationships and getting to know her youth on a deeper level. She likes advocating with youth and families to navigate the systems and working with 'cool' people. Outside of Friends, she likes to spend time with her family, play soccer, kickball, volleyball and travel.

Natasha Durant

Natasha Durant

Team Lead

Natasha Durant

Team Lead

Natasha is from Portland, Oregon. She attended The Evergreen State College and had an emphasis in cultural and ethnic studies: African American Studies. She enjoys being a mom, blogging and baking delicious treats. She is writing a book that her youth encouraged her to write. Natasha enjoys providing access to post-secondary education opportunities to program youth. She loves the relationships she fosters with the youth in the program and looks at the relationships like sisters.

Warren Edmondson Jr.

Warren Edmondson Jr.

Friend

Warren Edmondson Jr.

Friend

Warren was born and raised in Portland. He appreciates the work that Friends does to help youth and support those that work here. He likes to play basketball, hang out with friends and family. He loves to watch movies and explore different food spots and go bowling.

Sarah Ferguson

Sarah Ferguson

Team Lead

Sarah Ferguson

Team Lead

I grew up in the Portland area and went to the University of Oregon, where I graduated with a degree in History. I have been working with young children and youth for the past eight years and have enjoyed every moment. In my free time, I love to dance (jazz and hip hop), play kickball, read and watch my nieces and nephews play basketball and soccer. I can be found watching all of the Duck football games with my family in the fall and getting together for gatherings throughout the rest of the year. It is wonderful to be a part of the FOTC team and to get to work with our program youth.

Alejandra Garcilazo

Alejandra Garcilazo

Team Lead

Alejandra Garcilazo

Team Lead

Alejandra was born and raised in Umatilla Oregon and moved to this side of the state to attend Western Oregon University. She studied Community Health Education with a Minor in Psychology. Honna has always been drawn to youth work due to the lack of help youth received in her home town community. She loves being able to be a supportive and be positive role model in the lives of youth here at Friends of the Children. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with my son and family, hiking, reading and playing sports.

Fama Gedi

Fama Gedi

Friend

Fama Gedi

Friend

Fama is from Ifo Refugee Camp in Kenya but has called the City of Roses her home for the last 14 years. She has recently graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelors of Arts in Family and Human Services. What she appreciates about Friends is that the youth are the number one priority and the sense of community with the youth and staff alike. Fama loves morning runs, the music scene, exploring the outdoors, reading, plants, activism and her cat, D.W. Talk to her about: music, reproductive and racial justice, astrology, and soccer.

Jena Goude

Jena Goude

Friend

Jena Goude

Friend

Jena is from Spokane, Washington and attended Eastern Washington University. She values the long term commitment that the program and Friend make to each youth and strive to remain youth first and strength based. Jena enjoys spending time with friends and shooting film photos. Reading, writing and spending time with her cat are also favorite pastimes.

Tyler Green

Tyler Green

Team Lead

Tyler Green

Team Lead

Tyler was born and raised in Portland and thrilled to be back home. Tyler studied sociology and education at Colorado College, served as a corps member at City Year in Boston and attended University of Oregon for a Masters in community and regional planning. Tyler loves the youth centered and empowering approach offered at Friends, providing the opportunity for youth to be the best versions of themselves. Outside of Friends, he enjoys playing sports, exploring the Pacific Northwest, attending Blazer and Timbers games and spending time with his friends and family.

Ayni Hailicka

Ayni Hailicka

Friend

Ayni Hailicka

Friend

Ayni (“Annie”) hails from the bustling metropolis of Butte Falls, Oregon. Since graduating from University of Oregon, she’s lived in Istanbul, Denver, Yosemite, and now Portland. During that time, she paid the bills by working in marketing, but spent her free time volunteering with youth development organizations. She’s excited to turn her out-of-office experience into a full-time pursuit with Friends of the Children where she’ll work with youth in care. Outside of work, Ayni can be found backpacking, practicing yoga, reading, playing the harp.

Riley Hawkins

Riley Hawkins

Friend

Riley Hawkins

Friend

Riley is from St. Louis, Missouri originally. She graduated from Creighton University located in Omaha, NE with a degree in sociology and moved to Tulsa, OK to be a high school teacher. From she followed her partner and their dreams out to the West Coast for what she keeps calling her grand adventure. I am passionate about working with people and building strong relationships.

What Riley appreciates most about Friends of the Children is the fully thought out and well rounded approach to mentorship and working within the community. There is truly a comprehensive and inclusive message behind what we do. She is excited to fully embrace the nine Core Assets, and plant roots here in the Portland community.

When she is not working, Riley continues to find joy spending time with others, including her two dogs, partner, and roommate. I love game nights, painting, breathing fresh air, and discovering new things.

Mark Heystek

Mark Heystek

Friend

Mark Heystek

Friend

Mark is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He earned a degree from Aquinas College in International Studies and Spanish. He moved to work with AmeriCorps Service in economic development before transitioning into an AmeriCorps membership role with Partnerships for Student Achievement where he served as a math tutor for at-risk high school students. Mark appreciates the unwavering commitment that Friends and staff have to the youth and is thankful for being able to work in an environment that values social equity. In his free time, Mark might be reading his endless list of non-fiction books, watching an NBA game or feeling over-competitive in a game of chess. One of Mark's favorite things is enjoying the outdoors with loved ones.

Carliss Holland

Carliss Holland

Friend

Carliss Holland

Friend

Carliss was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She graduated from MWSC with a BA in Recreation Administration with youth sports. She has worked with youth for 15+ years and has a 12 year old son. She graduated in 2017 with a certificate in group fitness. She was a Friend previously for 7.5 years and appreciates the friendships she has made with staff, mentors, families, youth and schools over the years. She loves hanging out with her son, family and friends. She loves to play and watch sports and participate in fitness and working out activities. She likes to listen to music, watch movies, travel and see new places.

Brian Joy

Brian Joy

Friend

Brian Joy

Friend

I’m from Milwaukie, Oregon. I went to school at Oregon State University. What I appreciate about Friends of the Children is, the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of the youth we mentor. I’m a huge sports fan and, enjoying attending college football games and Blazers games. Spending time with my girlfriend, family, and friends.

Alan Keys

Alan Keys

Friend

Alan Keys

Friend

I was born in Michigan, but have been a transplant of Oregon since the the 80's. I went to Portland State University. What I appreciate about Friends, is that I have the opportunity to work with such wonderful young people and to have the chance to be a positive impact in their lives as they grow and learn all of their own great qualities. Outside of work, the things that bring me joy are spending quality time with my family, doing wild and fun things together; nothing beats that for me.

Lauren Kresta

Lauren Kresta

Lead Friend

Lauren Kresta

Lead Friend

I was born and raised in Portland, OR and went to college in Los Angeles where I studied Spanish and Education. I love playing volleyball, singing, going to the zoo and traveling to new places. Every day I come into work, I can't believe I get to work for such a phenomenal organization with such fun people.

Jeff Kuang

Jeff Kuang

Friend

Jeff Kuang

Friend

I’m from Clackamas, Oregon and graduated from the University of Portland as an English and Psychology major with Spanish minor. Before Friends, I worked at a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Center for children and adolescents experiencing mental health crises as a Psychiatric Technician (QMHA) and was also an Education Assistant for Clackamas ESD’s Life Enrichment Education Program for children with various disabilities. I enjoy Basketball (Go Blazers!), Literature, and Classical Guitar.

Gregg Lavender

Gregg Lavender

Lead Friend

Gregg Lavender

Lead Friend

Gregg is from Detroit. He studied elementary education with an early childhood emphasis at Western Michigan University. He has continued furthering his education at other colleges. He appreciates working with the youth at Friends. He loves going to work every day and values his relationship with his co-workers. When Gregg is not at Friends, you can find him riding bikes with his family and friends, hiking, listening to music, making art or sharing time with neighbors.

Brittany Leines

Brittany Leines

Friend

Brittany Leines

Friend

I grew up in Portland, a few blocks away from the new Rockwood office. I went to Parkrose High School and was in the class of 2009. Afterwards, I attended the U of O and majored in psychology and graduated in 2013. I appreciate the relationships most at Friends.I love the relationship that I have with both youth, their families, and the other program staff. Many times my job doesn't feel like a job because it I'm simply making plans with my own friends.Outside of work I enjoy spending time annoying my husband, hanging out with the dogs, reading, and getting caught up on my favorite TV shows.

Melissa Lewis

Melissa Lewis

Friend

Jay McQueen

Jay McQueen

Lead Friend

Jay McQueen

Lead Friend

Jay is originally from Brooklyn, NY. He attended St. John's University with a degree in sociology. He appreciates the co-workers and being able to have autonomy with the youth he works with to provide the best mentor experience. When he is not working, he loves to watch sports, specifically the Eagles and the Knicks and read.

Emma Moss

Emma Moss

Friend

Emma Moss

Friend

Emma was born and raised right here in Portland, Oregon. She studied at University of Oregon where she majored in English before earning her Master's degree in teaching from Concordia University in 2016. Emma appreciates Friends of the Children for their commitment to providing positive, long term relationships with youth as well as their commitment to equity and inclusivity. In her free time, she enjoys seeing live music, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

Arjon Nance

Arjon Nance

Friend

Arjon Nance

Friend

I grew up in Falls City, a very rural area west of Salem, Oregon. It is a beautiful place I am so thankful to still have access to, but I have had to unlearn a lot of negative rural cultural influences. I graduated from the UofO with a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in collecting cans for deposit. I began working right afterward at Outdoor School and found that I love working with youth enough that 17 years later, I am still going strong. I love the supportive community we have created at FOTC. Also how adaptable we can be in helping our youth to meet their own needs over the long term. My favorite hobbies are bike streamer tag and getting people to play games I have invented such as Ultiball. I also enjoy making people uncomfortable by performing seemingly dangerous tricks with my young children (We've worked on them long enough that my kids are like ninja's.) 😉

Joe Parnell

Joe Parnell

Friend

Joe Parnell

Friend

I am originally from Norman, Oklahoma and graduated from Colorado State University. I am passionate about social equity, political involvement and working in the community with young leaders. Most of my free time is spent with my husband, Philip and friends, and you can frequently find me with my head buried in a Wonder Woman comic.

Nicole Powell

Nicole Powell

Friend

Nicole Powell

Friend

Nicole was born and raised in Portland. After high school at Benson Polytechnic she enrolled at Portland Community College where she is currently pursing a degree in psychology and Black studies. What she appreciates about Friends is the time and effort the organization puts at risk children who may be easily overlooked. She likes that they provide positive, consistent and stable role models with ample amount of time to build a genuine relationship. Outside of work Nicole likes to hike, read, and eat tacos in bed watching all of my favorite shows with her pup, Huey.

Paul Rathgeb

Paul Rathgeb

Friend

Paul Rathgeb

Friend

Rock was born in Philly a proud city at the foundation of democracy and die hard sports fans. Rock volunteered for two years in Colorado through Americorps where he met his lovely wife. He camped out for a grad semester, wrote a thesis on Power of Play In Education, and has a Masters in Education from Goddard College in Vermont. Rock loves being a part of Friends of Children because of the value of being a long term mentor in the lives of youth towards helping them fully thrive. Outside of Friends of Children Rock appreciates living in the woods near Mount Hood between two rivers where he can hike, bike, kayak, cross country ski, snowboard, garden, and just be with family.

Janeyry Reyes

Janeyry Reyes

Friend

Janeyry Reyes

Friend

Janeyry was born and raised in Salem by her two wonderful parents. She graduated from McKay Highschool and ended up pursuing her degree at Portland State University. Something she appreciates about Friends of the Children is their commitment to the youth and their families as well as how welcoming they are. What I enjoy doing outside of Friends of the Children is hanging out with her 7 year old sister and my dog. Janeyry also enjoys discovering new eating places and hidden hiking trails. All of these thing bring so much joy and energy into my life.

Melissa Salazar

Melissa Salazar

Lead Friend

Melissa Salazar

Lead Friend

Melissa is originally from Southeast Texas and moved to the Pacific Northwest to attend college. She graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pacific Northwest College of Art. Melissa started as a volunteer working with our youth through our Next Steps Project. She then served a 10 month Americorps service as Post Secondary coordinator for the Next Steps Project. After her service was complete she transitioned into the role of a Female Adolescent Friend. She appreciated the commitment to the youth served at Friends. She enjoys making art of different mediums, reading, visiting museums and traveling.

Chris Sevilla

Chris Sevilla

Friend

Chris Sevilla

Friend

Originally from Northern Ca, Chris spent half of his life in the Oakland Ca area and the other half near Sacramento CA. In 2014, he moved to Portland Oregon to attend Portland State University. So far what he appreciates about Friends is how welcoming and genuine everyone has been, from employees to even the youth, I am very excited to be part of this awesome team.

Chris really enjoys going out with friends and being social, spending time with his dogs (Luna, a Huskie- and Drake, Boston Terrier). Chris also loves finding new things to do and new places to eat to eat here in Portland.

Greg Shuster

Greg Shuster

Friend

Greg Shuster

Friend

Greg is a first generation college graduate who comes from a Russian Jewish refugee family. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He is originally from Maryland and moved to Portland after his service where he attended Portland State University and got his degree in Psychology. Greg appreciates Friends research-based approach that guided the creation of the program. Friends of the Children is also unique in that from the top down, it feels like a big extended family. He values how the change created from the program and the effect on the community is long lasting, deep, and powerful. Outside of being a mentor, Greg loves to boulder, spend time with his wife and children and play Rocket League.

Annie Speed

Annie Speed

Friend

Annie Speed

Friend

Annie was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and went to school for Environmental Science in Flagstaff, Arizona. She is currently pursuing her BA in Special Education through an online university, and have worked in Special Education for 5 years. Annie is drawn to Friends after seeing the love and energy the staff members put into their everyday interactions. The relationships she hopes to build are one of the most exciting parts of this new journey, here at Friends. The commitment, compassion, and pure joy I see in the staff and youth, alike, makes me so excited to join this team. In her free time, she loves gardening, learning about permaculture (utilizing renewable energy sources), playing card and board games with friends, and cooking.

Tonia Teter

Tonia Teter

Friend

Tonia Teter

Friend

I was born in Kansas City Missouri which no longer resembles my childhood memories. Growing up, I considered myself bicoastal having grown up between my hometown and various parts of California. I earned my degree at the University of Missouri Kansas City, where I was VERY active in my sorority (shout out to Soror Kamala Harris on her VP nomination! SkeeWee!) I went on to attend the University of Missouri Columbia School of Law on the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship.

What do you appreciate about Friends of the Children? The long term commitment to supporting children and families.

What do you do outside of Friends of the Children that brings you joy and energy? Long drives that allow my mind to drift into space.

Taylor Strain

Taylor Strain

Friend

Taylor Strain

Friend

Taylor was born and raised in Gettysburg, OH and earned a Bachelors in Education from Ohio State University. In 2016, he moved to the west coast, engaging in youth focused programs for Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District and as a Vice Principal at Youth Progress Association. Taylor appreciates the long term commitment to youth and the focus on building relationships that is central to Friends of the Children–Portland's approach to mentoring. He likes to play basketball, Ultimate Frisbee, and video games, spend time with his family and travel.

Amy Van Denburgh

Amy Van Denburgh

Friend

Amy Van Denburgh

Friend

Amy attended Northern Arizona University for both her undergrad and Master degrees. After nine years teaching in South Korea, Palestine, the Czech Republic, Honduras, and Arizona, she spent the last year at the Oregon Food Bank in Nutrition Education. Amy is excited to join Friends of the Children and especially appreciate the emphasis on meeting youth where they are at. Now that she has fled the desert sun, she enjoys exploring Oregon with my dog and horse.

Graylen Walker

Graylen Walker

Friend

Graylen Walker

Friend

Graylen moved out to Portland in her Corolla 2 years ago from North Carolina. She attended UNC Chapel Hill (Go Heels!) for undergrad and UNC Charlotte for her MSW. She loves traveling and had the urge to move across the country after her 2015 graduation. She served as an AmeriCorps member with the MFS non-profit and helped run the SUN program at an elementary school. In her free time, she likes being outside, taking pictures of her cat, and recently joined a dragon boat team!

Program Staff

Alicia Barajas

Alicia Barajas

Resource Coordinator

Alicia Barajas

Resource Coordinator

Alicia was born and raised in Fresno, California where she studied at the Fresno Institute of Technology. She has a strong appreciation for Friends of the Children's mission driven work to break generational cycles and empower youth to be successful. In her off time, Alicia enjoys outdoor adventures with her children, reading a good book, and sharing laughter with good friends.

Meghan Buckner

Meghan Buckner

Director of Program Operations

Meghan Buckner

Director of Program Operations

Meghan has been working in the youth development field for 15 years and at Friends of the Children for almost 10 years. Meghan holds a Bachelors Degree in Art Therapy & Child/Adolescent Development from Miami University of Ohio. Meghan was drawn to this field from a desire to work with youth through an interdisciplinary approach and advocate holistically in all areas of the youths’ lives. In her free time she enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest, creating art, and spending time with friends and family.

Briana Dumas

Briana Dumas

Program Manager

Briana Dumas

Program Manager

Briana left the San Francisco bay area for the great Pacific Northwest in search of cooler weather, more trees and higher mountains. She attended the University of Puget Sound, the University of Oregon and Portland State University. She wakes up every morning feeling blessed that she gets to do the work she loves and is inspired daily by the youth and families she serves. Briana enjoys gardening, adventuring with her family and dog Olive Juice, kickboxing and anything that involves being in, on or near large bodies of water.

Liz Gilkey

Liz Gilkey

Education Assessment Program Manager

Liz Gilkey

Education Assessment Program Manager

I am a fifth-generation Oregonian and I have lived in Newport, Eugene, and Portland. I’m a “Double Duck” because I earned two doctorate degrees from the University of Oregon: a PhD in Education and at JD in Law. I also attended UC, Santa Barbara (MA, Education) and Reed College (BA, English). I have worked in educational research, evaluation, and assessment since 2006. My professional mission is to work to close the opportunity gap in education, careers, and our communities by uplifting children who need the most support. I love that Friends shares this mission and puts children first, at the heart of the organization. I appreciate that we help children build important Core Assets like self-efficacy, perseverance, and hope. Outside of Friends, I enjoy dancing and hiking, spending time outdoors with my dogs, snuggling with my cat, reading, watching movies, and cooking.

Sierra Gonzalez

Sierra Gonzalez

Group Program Coordinator

Sierra Gonzalez

Group Program Coordinator

Sierra was born and raised in Carlsbad, California. She moved to Portland in 2015 to attend Warner Pacific University, earning a Bachelors in Social Work. She is thrilled to be a part of the Friends family and excited to bring culturally specific programming from a restorative perspective. In her free time, Sierra enjoys sleeping, spending time with her cats, and the occasional river adventure.

Phillip Johnson II

Phillip Johnson II

Program Manager

Phillip Johnson II

Program Manager

Phillip is from Portland and attended Warner Pacific with a sociology major. He appreciates the relationships with the youth and their families. Phillips loves being a youth pastor and doing things with his youth group. He enjoys working with his wife on her entrepreneurial endeavors. He loves playing with his two girls, writing and creating.

Brian Kay

Brian Kay

Community Engagement Manager

Estefania Perez

Estefania Perez

Bilingual Education Program Coordinator

Estefania Perez

Bilingual Education Program Coordinator

Estefania was born in Los Angeles before moving to the Oregon Coast where she spent her childhood. In 2013, she moved to Portland to earn her degree from Portland State University. She appreciates the values, dedication and commitment to the children. She is happy to be a part of an organization who genuinely has a desire and resources to make an impact in their life in a positive way. Estefania likes to get together with people that have similar health / fitness goals, to motivate and hold each other accountable.

Brian Pham

Brian Pham

Associate Director of Partnerships & Resources

Brian Pham

Associate Director of Partnerships & Resources

I am a proud Portland native. I graduated from Portland State University with a B.S. in Community Health. Working at Friends of the Children has been the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. We all come from different backgrounds and work experience, yet we are all here because of the mission. Outside of work, I enjoy being with family/friends, traveling, and eating all kinds of foods.

Wanda Poton

Wanda Poton

Associate Director of Education and Career Readiness

Wanda Poton

Associate Director of Education and Career Readiness

Wanda has been working with youth for 10+ years and is now leading and supporting Friends at Friends of the Children. Wanda has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Psychology from Portland State University. Drawn to the field of helping children because of her experience being the eldest in her family, caring for her younger siblings and being the first to graduate from college. She enjoys visiting, chatting and cooking for friends and family, exploring various forms of crafts/arts and reading to learn and develop. Wanda’s favorite past time is watching movies with her husband and three little doggies.

Geraldine Sandberg

Geraldine Sandberg

Program Operations Coordinator

Rose Solowski

Rose Solowski

Associate Director of Family and Alumni Engagement

Rose Solowski

Associate Director of Family and Alumni Engagement

I love being outdoors, I am super creative: I love to paint, craft and sew. I love to read. I have an awesome family- my husband and I have 2 kids. We have a dog, a cat and 3 chickens. I also am on the board for a local youth baseball organization. I started as a Friend in 2003 and love this organization with all my heart!!

Ki'ilani Viernes

Ki'ilani Viernes

Senior Program Manager

Ki'ilani Viernes

Senior Program Manager

Ki'ilani was born and raised in O'ahu, Hawaii. She graduated from Eastern Washington University with a BS in Applied Developmental Psychology and minors in Psychology and Special Education. She has a Masters in Education in School Counseling from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. Ki has been at Friends for 11 1/2 years and appreciates the longevity of the commitment made to the youth served. She also appreciates the inclusive work environment - the open, welcoming community we have that encourages folks to be who they are and appreciates each unique person. Additionally, she appreciate sthe relationships made with youth, their families, and co-workers. Outside of Friends, she plays with her dog, Keona, takes pictures out in the community, creates artwork, is in nature, does community service activities and spends time with her niece and nephew.

Administrative Staff

Joy Fauth

Joy Fauth

Program Facility Coordinator

Joy Fauth

Program Facility Coordinator

Born in Toppenish WA, my family moved to occupied Palestine 17 miles from Gaza when I was 8 (1964). Moved back to OR @19, been here ever since. Went to OR College of Education, it is now called Western OR University. LOVE all food, love relaxing and camping by a loud babbling rivers, and walking on the Ocean shores. Friends is the most amazing program, appreciate the early intervention, and that it is long term, and not a band aid solution.

Audrey Forrest

Audrey Forrest

Director of Operations

Audrey Forrest

Director of Operations

Audrey has been a part of fundraising and development in Portland since 2004 and with Friends of the Children since 2012 focusing on events, campaigns, operations and logistics for the team. Watching Friends work with their youth is truly inspiring and motivates Audrey every day. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys getting outside with her husband, two girls and dog, Olive.

Val Graham

Val Graham

Accounting Manager

Rose Hawk

Rose Hawk

Human Resources Specialist

Rose Hawk

Human Resources Specialist

Rose is a Portland native, a mama bear, a lover of people and a great listener. She holds a degree in Business Administration from Warner Pacific University. Before joining the team at Friends of the Children, she spent years growing communities in the health and wellness industry. Rose is honored to be a part of the team at Friends of the Children, specifically supporting the mission of guiding our youth out of a survivor mindset to a thriving mentality. When she’s not working she likes to go dancing, garden, and spend time with her daughter.

" I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou

Brenda McCoy

Brenda McCoy

Executive Assistant

Brenda McCoy

Executive Assistant

Brenda grew up in Southern Oregon where she was raised by her grandmother. She holds a BS in Biology from Portland State University and an MS in Environmental Education from Southern Oregon University. Just before Friends, Brenda was working in non-profit Elementary School administration. In her free time, Brenda does a lot of volunteering and works as a benefit auctioneer for several other non-profits. Her favorite thing to do is travelling the world with her teenage son.

Denise O'Neill

Denise O'Neill

Human Resources Manager

Denise O'Neill

Human Resources Manager

Born and raised in Portland, Denise attended Seattle Pacific and then Concordia University majoring in Business. Denise is excited and privileged to have the opportunity to work at Friends in the role of Human Resources Manager. She has previously worked in the solar manufacturing environment for eight years. Outside of work, Denise volunteers with local animal rescues fostering dogs. She currently has four dogs and enjoys hiking and curling up with a good book.

Terry Robertson

Terry Robertson

Receptionist

Terry Robertson

Receptionist

A lover of people, Terry has been with Friends since October 2016. She loves that she is able to serve the community that she grew up in and believes that being a local is crucial in making a profound connection with the kids. Whether she is in or out of the office, her goal is to make at least one person smile a day.

Tana Schield

Tana Schield

Accountant

Tana Schield

Accountant

Outside of Friends, I like to feed the goats on Rodney Ave, workout at the Dishman Community Center, and discover chickens in the neighborhood.

Jack Vollert

Jack Vollert

Facilities & Partnerships Manager

Jack Vollert

Facilities & Partnerships Manager

Jack grew up in California. After graduating from Santa Clara University, he moved to Portland. His first job in Portland was a crisis intervention counselor at a homeless shelter in Old Town. He has been with Friends since 2000 and started as a Friend. He appreciates the hard work and dedication to the mission at Friends. He likes cooking and eating meals with his family and is a drummer in a rock trio called Three Finger Jack.

Adam Zahn

Adam Zahn

Senior Accountant & IT Administrator