Our People

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People are the heart of the Foundation. From our enthusiastic members, to our esteemed Legacy Circle, to our visionary Board of Directors, to our dedicated staff, we are an organization of women for women. 


Jessica Arzate
Jessica ArzateVice President
Jessica Arzate is the Senior Director of Impact at Greater Than (formerly “I Have a Dream” Foundation of Oregon), an education nonprofit working in partnership with the Reynolds School District. As a member of the leadership team at Greater Than, she drives decisions and strategy for the organization’s Impact Model. In addition to her leadership at Greater Than, Jessica serves as the first elected Latina on the Multnomah ESD School Board for Zone 4 (East Portland) and as Co-President on the inaugural School Board Members of Color Caucus with the Oregon School Board Association.
Pooja Bhatt
Pooja Bhatt
Pooja Bhatt (she/her/hers) is an experienced policy professional driven by a sense of cultural humility, curiosity, and belief that individual people, institutions, and systems must operate in ways that allow historically under-resourced communities to determine and actualize what they need to thrive. As a Senior Policy Advisor for Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Education Policy Advisor for Governor Kate Brown, she translated her values into action through policy levers and funding to remove barriers and close opportunity gaps, and by creating more inclusive work environments in the public sector. Her 15+ years of professional experience is rooted in Oregon, and has taken her to India to support the efforts of security guards organizing to create better working conditions for themselves. Pooja earned a Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan, with a focus on social policy.
Sirius Bonner
Sirius Bonner
Sirius Bonner is passionate about social justice and has made that the center of her career. Sirius’ work focuses on the intersections between social justice issues such as racial oppression, reproductive justice, queer rights, anti-fat bias, educational equity, poverty, sexism, and liberation; recognizing that as we begin to untangle one issue, we can untangle them all. Her work was recognized in 2014 with the Compass Award for achievements in equity and inclusion efforts.

Sirius currently works at Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette as the Vice President of Equity and Inclusion, bringing her leadership on equity initiatives. Previously, Sirius was the Special Advisor to the President for Diversity and Equity at Clark College, directed diversity recruitment at PSU, and worked at Reed as the director of multicultural recruitment in admission, a major gift fundraiser, and coordinator for the Multicultural Resource Center.
Andrea Chunga-Celis
Andrea Chunga-CelisSecretary
Andrea Chunga-Celis is the Grants Coordinator at Adelante Mujeres in Forest Grove, OR. Previously, she worked in human rights organizations in New York and Peru. Born in Lima, Peru and raised in Portland, Oregon, her passion is to provide equitable and just opportunities to underrepresented communities.
Shadiin Garcia
Shadiin Garcia
Shadiin Garcia is Chicana and Laguna Pueblo from New Mexico and has lived in Oregon for 16 years. She has worked for over 20 years as a teacher, as a public school administrator, researcher, a policy analyst, Indigenous education leader, and as a consultant. She has a Bachelor's Degree from Yale University in English with a specialization in education; a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership and a PhD in Critical and Sociocultural Studies in Education from the University of Oregon. She currently runs her own consulting company, Shoreline Consulting.
Courtney Mersereau
Courtney MersereauTreasurer
Courtney Mersereau is a Financial Advisor with Vision Capital Management, a women-owned, independent firm in Portland. As a CFP®, she is passionate about providing her clients the opportunity to make smart, confident financial decisions. She’s a founding member of Ninety-Nine Girlfriends, loves playing just about every sport and hanging with her Wire Fox Terrier, Dexter.
Gilda Montenegro-Fix
Gilda Montenegro-Fix
Gilda Montenegro-Fix is a Costa Rican woman, mother, wife, world traveler and global citizen. She represented her country in two Olympic Games (Barcelona ‘92 and Atlanta ‘96), in the sport of whitewater slalom kayak, being the only woman from all Latin America to compete in this discipline. This was the culmination of an international 10-year career in outdoor adventure leadership.

Gilda studied Psychology at the University of Costa Rica, worked as a bilingual/bicultural family advocate with multicultural families for 10 years in Hawaii and Medford. Ms. Montenegro-Fix is the founder and senior consultant of Celebrate Diversity! a consulting and training company in Cultural Agility successfully providing services to a variety of organizations in Oregon. Having worked in the fields of outdoor leadership, social work, early childhood, cross cultural communication and EDI (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion), she is passionate about facilitating understanding, cultivating harmony and building bridges that connect us all.
Laura Rodriguez
Laura Rodriguez
Laura Rodriguez is a first generation Cuban-American. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Florida Atlantic University and a Master’s degree in Social Work in Community Organizing, Planning, Policy and Administration from Boston College. Laura is currently pursuing a PhD from Portland State University. Her research will focus on improving health care systems’ ability to provide equitable services to children who have special needs and who hold multiple intersecting marginalized identities.

Laura’s professional experience includes service coordination, supervision, program management, full-scale program direction and management, and systems analysis. She has had the privilege of working with multiple populations, including run-away homeless youth, homebound elderly, and children/youth with special health care needs, in addition to spending several years in the reproductive health field. In her free time, Laura likes hiking with her wife and their dog, and is obsessed with watching foreign detective dramas.
Brook Shelley
Brook Shelley
Brook Shelley lives in Oakland, CA with her cat Snorri, and works for Slack. Her writing has appeared in Queer Quarrels, The Toast, Lean Out, Transfigure, and the Oregon Journal of the Humanities. She speaks regularly on queer and trans issues, and is also on the board of Basic Rights Oregon.
Amy Sample Ward
Amy Sample WardPresident
Amy is the CEO of NTEN, a membership organization of nonprofit technology professionals. A speaker, author, and trainer, she has worked with groups and spoken at events around the world. In 2013, she co-authored "Social Change Anytime Everywhere: How to Implement Online Multichannel Strategies to Spark Advocacy, Raise Money, and Engage Your Community" with Allyson Kapin.


Emily Evans
Emily EvansExecutive DirectorThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
“Working alongside a visionary board of directors to build a new foundation, from the ground up, is the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m delighted to be part of this work, in part to help realize my grandmother’s long-held ambition that women in ​Oregon would ​break new ground in equality and achievement. I believe our foundation is the missing link that will transform the generosity of Oregon women into lasting change for women and girls ​across the state.”

Born and raised in Ashland, Oregon, Emily was formerly​ the​ Lead Development Officer at the Forum for Youth Investment, a nonprofit think tank in Washington DC. During her five-year tenure, ​Emily directed an annual multi-million dollar fund development effort and partnered with national and local foundations all over the country. Prior to her work at the Forum, ​Emily helped launch the Women’s Leadership Institute in Washington DC as Interim Director of Partnerships and Advancement. While there, she secured the largest board member gift in the organization’s history and helped produce events featuring notable women leaders including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, NPR’s Linda Wertheimer, and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. While completing her Master’s in Public Administration at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, she was president of the Maxwell Women’s Caucus. ​Emily’s undergraduate degree is from Bryn Mawr College. ​​Emily lives ​with her partner and two kids in NW Portland.

Ami Patel
Ami PatelSenior Program ManagerThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Ami is a firm believer of Audre Lorde's words "There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives," which has driven her approach to her nonprofit work as a community builder.

She worked with cross-sector stakeholders at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights to establish green jobs vocational programs, and organized with students of color around higher education affordability with the Greenlining Institute. Ami co-founded a South Asian LGBTQ youth group in Los Angeles, and has provided outreach support for national arts festivals. She brings with her an MA in Asian American Studies from UCLA and a love of storytelling as a form of resistance and resilience. Ami grew up in Corona, CA, surrounded by a boisterous Gujarati community, and lived in Los Angeles, Oakland, and Kailua before moving to Portland. She would love to talk to you about the cultural importance of food, missing the ocean and sun, and any amazing poets of color you have been reading.

Brie Richards
Brie RichardsOperations ManagerThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Brie grew up in the small mountain town of McCall, Idaho, and is a 2012 graduate of Concordia University – Portland, where she earned her BA in English and a minor in business. After graduation, she went on to find that she is passionate about nonprofits and working for mission-driven organizations. She joined the Women’s Foundation of Oregon team as the Database and Office Administrator in March 2017. In Brie’s free time, she loves reading, writing, and spending time hiking and camping with her partner, her daughter, and her dog.
Rachel Torres
Rachel TorresThe Giving Project ManagerThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Rachel Torres moved to Oregon from the Midwest. She grew up with corn fields in her backyard and continues to use a rural perspective in her work. At a young age, Rachel became involved in grassroots campaigns in her small town, and the experience fueled her desire for organizing communities and learning more about social justice movements. Rachel believes that for her work to be successful it must be intersectional. She is dedicated to learning, unlearning, and growing for the rest of her life around oppressive systems, ideas, and values to support the most impacted communities in dismantling them.

Rachel has worked as a researcher and data designer on several reports for community and foundation organizations here in Oregon including Count Her In, Leading with Race: Research Justice in Washington County, and the Urban/Rural Connection Project. Rachel looks forward to working with communities and individuals to develop more equitable and inclusive philanthropy practices. She is excited to have an opportunity to be a part of the Women's Foundation of Oregon and to focus the power of women's collective resources to improve the lives of women and girls with The Giving Project.

Legacy Circle

  • Verna Bailey
  • Lynne Bangsund
  • Kaaren Beaver
  • Alice Bergman
  • Anne Booth
  • Dorothy Boothe
  • Coventry Boucher
  • Patty Brandt
  • Nancy Bryant
  • Leslie Cable
  • Joanne Carlson
  • Valri Chiappetta
  • Susan Corey
  • Dotti Cowart
  • Kim Cunningham
  • Kim Curtis
  • Nicole Deering
  • Nancy Delbrueck
  • Mary Edmeades
  • Kris Elliott
  • Marna Elliott
  • Lura Elsen
  • Julie Falk
  • Joan Foley
  • Marybeth Fossati
  • Trish Gallus
  • Linda Girard
  • Cathie Glennon
  • Linda Kilham Goebel
  • Michele Goodman
  • Nancy Graham
  • Sharon Graver
  • Brenda Grootendorst
  • Karen Holce
  • Joan Horstkotte
  • Lynnette Houghton
  • Beth Hutchison
  • Cobi Jackson
  • Jean Josephson
  • Mary Kalafatis
  • Stephanie Knight
  • Carolee Kolve
  • Laura Krum
  • Hazel Larpenteur
  • Catherine Lingas
  • Priscilla Wold Longfield
  • Laura Luthi
  • Christine McClave
  • Marcella McGee’
  • Lora R. Meyer
  • Austin Moller
  • Ginny Morthland
  • Katy Neill
  • Karen Nelson
  • Anne Noall
  • Susan Palmiter
  • Lynne Parker
  • Sandy Patchin
  • Carol Petersen
  • Jeanette Pippin
  • Dana Plautz
  • Lee Ragen
  • Diane Redd
  • Debby Rhoades
  • Daneal Louise Richards
  • Mary Roberts
  • Traci Rossi
  • Jeannie Santos
  • Molly Schank
  • Laurie Pickett Schulte
  • Elinor Shanklin
  • Kimberlee Sheng
  • Rita Silen
  • B.J. Simmons
  • Barbara Spence
  • Molly Spencer
  • Carrie Stevens
  • Christy Stockton
  • Sue Sullivan
  • Chris Swanson
  • Gale Swanson
  • Jeanne Teisher
  • Mary Kay Tetreault
  • Deborah Thomas
  • Julie Vigeland
  • Sue Walcutt
  • Beth Warner
  • Megan Wentworth
  • Cheryl Wideman
  • Barbara Wilkinson
  • Janet Williamson
  • Kathleen Wilson
  • Kathy Wilson
  • Lynda Wonacott
  • Sonia Worcel
  • Charlene Zidell
  • Marilyn Zook

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