OregonMESA

Board & Staff

Committed to student success.

Oregon MESA’s staff and advisory board are committed to reaching more schools, strengthening existing programs, and developing partnerships in order to fulfill our mission for achieving equity in STEM.

MESA Staff

ERICK CHONG-MARQUEZ

Spanish Translator

A recent transplant from Silicon Valley, Erick is working towards his MA in Education to become a High School Spanish teacher. He loves to travel and meet people from all over the world. As a Spanish Translator, Erick directly translates, proofreads, and revises materials for students, families, and partners. He ensures event language accessibility through a culturally-aware lens. Erick is excited to serve our Pacific Northwest community and increase language accessibility for MESA’s students, families, and overall community.

 

SARA FREEDMAN

Events Coordinator

With thirteen years of experience, Sara joins the MESA team with a passion for managing the details of events and other programs that build community. After obtaining a master’s degree in Geography from Portland State University, she started off her career working as a Cartographer in natural resource management. Originally from Schenectady in upstate New York, Sara has considered Portland her cherished home since 1992. She loves to see live music, travel and takes every opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. 

KELLI GARCIA

Education Coordinator

Kelli has ten years of experience working with students and running after school programs through non-profits prior to her starting at MESA. She has been with MESA since 2018 growing the Mentor Program. She has a B.S in Environmental Science from Portland State University. As a member of the Navajo Nation, Kelli is always looking for opportunities to bring native youth into the world of STEM.

 

VALENTINA LONDON

Outreach & Engagement Coordinator

Valentina was born and raised in Santiago, Chile, and moved to the Pacific Northwest with her parents at ten years old. After her first summer science camps, Valentina was inspired to pursue a degree and career in STEM, especially after seeing the lack of representation for Latina women. She went on to get her Bachelor of Arts & Science degree from The Evergreen State College, and went on to work in various conservation, outdoor & science education roles. Valentina is a firm believer in empowering our youth and providing resources for them to excel.

 MAHATHI MANDELLI

Curriculum and Training Coordinator

Mahathi is a computer science major at Portland State University from India. She is tremendously motivated by MESA's efforts in supporting and assisting middle and high school students. She participated in social projects in her native country as part of her college and the World Youth Organization. She enjoys music, cooking, traveling, and creating art. As an engineering student, Mahathi is dedicated to ensuring that young people have a solid understanding of Stem subjects and pursue their interests to the best.

 

 MICHELLE PEREZ

Operations Coordinator

A graduate from Portland State University with a B.S. degree in Environmental Science and Management, Michelle worked for community and sustainability with the CCAR Research Experience for Undergraduates Program, and PSU’s Student Sustainability Center Garden Task Force. Prior to her MESA position, Michelle was an Operational and Sustainability Consultant in Arizona. As a member of the Latinx community, Michelle strives for equity while empowering students to find their confidence in the STEM fields.

LAURA ROSAS

Outreach Specialist

Laura is a Spanish and Psychology double major at Portland State University. Co-director of the student group Las Mujeres, and event coordinator for DreamPSU, Laura wanted to join Oregon MESA as our Outreach Specialist because she feels that every student, no matter their background or income level, should have an equal opportunity to succeed in their education.

 

 

LAURA SKINNER 

Mentor Coordinator

Laura is a Mechanical Engineering student at Portland State University. As a middle and high school student, Laura was introduced to engineering through the MESA programs at her schools. With the support of mentors who visited her schools, Laura was inspired to pursue an engineering degree. After working at MESA as a mentor herself, Laura now hopes to continue inspiring a new generation of MESA students through her work as Mentor Coordinator.

 

MICHELA SOTTURA

Communications & Marketing Coordinator

Born and raised in Italy, Michela is an international graduate with a B.A. in English. Prior to joining MESA in 2019, Michela worked for the Portland Community College Women’s Resource Center, serving the Portland community with a feminist intersectional approach. Michela brings her passion for equity and creativity to MESA, overseeing external communications, branding, and fundraising. Michela is committed to MESA’s work to create an equitable STEM future of talented, empowered, and diverse innovators.

 

KEHINDE TIMOTHY

Development Specialist

Kehinde is an undergrad student at Portland State University studying Business Administration with a double major in Management & Marketing. She has a passion for equity, diversity, and youth empowerment. Her past experiences include a media planning internship at the GROWTH Initiative, where she worked closely with her client to produce a TV ad and increase their overall social media presence. She currently runs a small event decor business, and enjoys cooking, dancing, and traveling.

CONNIE TRAN

Office Specialist

Connie Tran is a current 3rd-year undergraduate student at Portland State University, majoring in Biology with a minor in Psychology & Neuroscience. From a young age, she has noticed the many disparities among minorities, especially in education. Connie is excited to work with Oregon MESA to help mentor prospective, young teens in pursuing an education and career in what they are passionate about.

JACK WANITKUN

Procurement & IT Specialist

Jack Wanitkun is a current Computer Science major at Portland State University. As a passionate programmer and problem-solver, Jack is currently developing a full system from software to hardware to provide real people with tangible solutions. After working with MESA students as a mentor, sharing his skills and love for STEM, he is now responsible for overseeing MESA’s equipment and supplies for office operations and student programs, providing additional support throughout the school year for student success.

TONG ZHANG

Executive Director

Tong is a first-generation American who immigrated from China to the US as a small child. She has a background in working with organizations to create meaningful and sustained social impact. This includes being a founding staff member and COO of Thread. She has a Ph.D. in Immunology from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and is a proud alumnae of North Clackamas Schools. Tong is passionate about the MESA mission of engaging underserved students in STEM in her home state of Oregon and beyond.

MESA Regional Coordinators

COMING SOON! 

MESA Regional Coordinator for East Multnomah County
Mt Hood Community College

COMING SOON!

MESA Regional Coordinator for Klamath County
Oregon Tech

 

ALICIA AUTAJAY

MESA Regional Coordinator for Washington County -  Centro Cultural de Washington County

Alicia is a first generation graduate who values education as a tool for opportunity. With a liberal arts BA from Simpson University, Alicia has many years experience working with non profits and early childhood educators to provide resources to underserved populations. She hopes to be a part of the effort to close the achievement gap by partnering with MESA and bringing change to her community in Washington County and beyond.

LESLY RODRIGUEZ 

MESA Regional Coordinator for Clackamas & Marion Counties
Oregon Tech

A recent graduate from Portland State University with a B.A. in Community Development and a minor in International Studies, Lesly has worked from a very young age to serve and further develop communities of color and underrepresented communities. Among others, she has worked at Portland State University as a mentor for a Latinx program, and in Washington and Multnomah County as a health worker. 

Advisory Board

DR. TIMOTHY ANDERSON

Chair | Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science, Portland State University

As a member of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Tribe, Dr. Anderson is one of the few Native American engineering faculty members in the U.S. He is a fellow of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society as well as the Portland International Center for the Management of Engineering and Technology. His current research focuses on applications of productivity analysis, technology forecasting, quantitative benchmarking, and new product development in diverse areas. He has worked with and consulted for a range of companies including the U.S. Postal Service, Oki Electric Corporation, Honeywell, CenturyLink, and Nike.

KYLE RITCHEY-NOLL

Vice Chair | Education & Workforce Policy Director at Oregon Business Council

Kyle is the director of education and workforce policy for the Oregon Business Council, a business roundtable focused on improving Oregon’s quality of life and economic prosperity. In this role, Kyle helps advocate for equitable, student-centered learning at all levels in Oregon education. She also leads the Oregon CTE-STEM Employer Coalition. Kyle has broad experience in business leadership and engagement, collaborative partnerships, strategic initiatives, and public policy efforts. Prior to this, Kyle was the executive director of the Oregon Council of the American Electronics Association (AeA), the state’s high-tech trade association, and was previously awarded the Portland Business Journal 40 Under 40 award.

CHRIS BOZZINI

Member | Manager in Portland General Electric's Environmental Group

Chris is a manager in PGE's environmental group responsible for site cleanup and other support within the company. He manages a staff of eight working on multiple issues including environmental cleanup, waste management, permitting, avian protection, and terrestrial biological resources. Previous to PGE, he worked in consulting at firms including CH2M Hill. Chris is a Professional Engineer with a BS in Chemical Engineering, an MS in Civil Engineering, and an MBA. Chris has been with PGE and in Portland for the last four years. He is married with two children and two dogs.

RICKY BUSTAMANTE

Member | Manager of Transmission Planning, Bonneville Power Administration

Ricky oversees reliability, expansion, and interconnection planning activities for the Northwest Federal Transmission System at the Bonneville Power Administration. Ricky is a first generation Mexican-American, born and raised in Oregon. He attended Glencoe High School in Hillsboro, Oregon, and Rice University in Houston, Texas, where he received a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering. Ricky is passionate about connecting under-represented and disadvantaged youth to careers in STEM and to empowering them for professional success. His wife is a high school science teacher and they have two kids.

ROMANNA FLORES

Member | Enterprise Business Solutions | Intel

Romanna Flores has spent 25 years creating innovative, digital interactions in a variety of industries (education, finance, and high-tech). Her formative education at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago couldn’t have been more well-timed for experimenting with emerging technologies - focusing in areas such as computer design, 3-D modeling, animation and programming. Her passion for re-purposing electronic gadgets is currently being shared with her precocious son and very understanding husband.

FORD MORISHITA

Member | University Supervisor PSU College of Education

Ford Morishita served as a science educator in the North Clackamas School District for 33 years. Ford has also worked as Regional Science Coordinator in Washington, a STEM Consultant for Discovery Education, and currently supervises teacher candidates for PSU College of Education. He has previously served as a founding member of the Teacher Advisory Council for ODE and continues to serve as an original member of the Chalkboard Project Advisory Council. Ford was the 1997 Oregon Teacher of the Year, received the 1997 Milken National Educator Award, and in 2008 was designated as a lifetime National Associate by the National Academy of Science. Ford received his MAT and BS in Biology from Lewis and Clark College.

JACKIE MURPHY

Member | Program Officer at The Collins Foundation

Jackie currently serves as a Program Officer at The Collins Foundation. Her past roles include serving as the first full-time executive director of Airways Science for Kids, After School Program Manager for Self Enhancement, Inc. in Portland and Director of Student Services at Heritage University on the Yakama Indian Reservation. Jackie is deeply committed to connecting youth of color and under-served youth to education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. Jackie has a strong background in culturally-specific and culturally-responsive education, holding a master’s in education from Heritage University.

JENNIFER RUWART

Member | Founder and CEO at Roger That Agency

Jennifer Ruwart is Agency Director of Roger That, a brand development and design agency. She loves working with companies who are in business to do good. With a career that spans two decades, four continents and multiple industries, Jennifer’s depth and breadth of experience serves Roger That’s clients well. Today, whether helping clients articulate their brand promise or unique value proposition, she has an uncanny ability cut through fluff and jargon to get the heart of the matter painlessly.

DAVID SQUIRE

Member

Dave Squire offers 45 years of executive leadership experience in Oregon high tech, and 30 years of active involvement in education, workforce and economic development. He has served on the boards of the Oregon Community College A Association board, Lintner Center for Advanced Education, the Oregon Quality Initiative, Worksystems Inc., the Leadership & Entrepreneurship Charter High School and Moyo Jasiri. He served 6 years as an elected member of the Portland Community College Board of Directors. David now serves on the boards of Oregon MESA and Saturday Academy and is a Fellow at Oregon Learns.

MICHELLE YORK

Member | Teacher on Special Assignment at Portland Public Schools

Michelle York offers 20+ years as an educator in the classroom which includes advocating for student experiences in college and career readiness, mentoring new and pre-service teachers in secondary mathematics, and engaging stakeholder support for STEM opportunities in K-12. Her passion for lifelong learning led to earning National Board Certification in Early Adolescent Mathematics and a Doctorate in Education. She currently works in Portland Public Schools as a Teacher on Special Assignment and serves as a secondary school representative and chair of the Program Approval Committee on the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission. Her interest and passion for engineering and math problem solving comes from a childhood spent in an engineering family and she continues to share the joy of discovery with the next generation.

Help Oregon MESA thrive

Our success depends on a passionate community of supporters who believe in our commitment to equity in STEM education. Join us as a volunteer, mentor, donor, or other supporter.