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


Engagement Specialist

Originally from South Dakota, Krista is a first generation student at PSU, double majoring in Psychology and Business Administration. Her childhood was spent in different communities such as South Dakota, Colorado, Texas and Mexico. The personal experiences that Krista encountered in these communities are the reason she aims to provide a support system for every child to succeed in academics and accomplish their dreams. Her past experiences include working for a Spanish Immersion daycare, mentoring ESL students, and student-teaching elementary age students.


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. 


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.



Procurement & IT Specialist

Kiran is a graduate student at Portland State University from India, studying Electrical and Computer Engineering. Before joining PSU, he worked as a software engineer in the SAP domain for 5 years in India. He is excited to join MESA as an IT Specialist to oversee Oregon MESA’s equipment and supplies for office operations and programs, to ensure students are set up for success. Outside of work he enjoys playing games, sports, reading fiction books, traveling and exploring street food around the world.



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.


Curriculum & 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.



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.


Regional Coordinator for Clackamas & Marion Counties

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. 


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.




Operations & Office Specialist

Arya is a passionate Computer Science student at Portland State University from Iran. He is a proud member of the International Federation of Inventors' Associations (IFIA). Arya has already achieved success by winning an invention competition. Beyond his studies, Arya indulges in interests ranging from programming and sports to movies and video games. With a fervent commitment to innovation and a dedication to making a positive impact, Arya is poised to inspire others through his journey in technology.


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.




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.



Executive Director

Elizabeth is a an innovative leader and strategic thinker with extensive experience driving nonprofits and community-based initiatives. Prior to joining MESA, she served as executive director of PDX Women in Tech, a local organization working to create access, dismantle inequities, and fuel belonging in the tech industry. Prior to that, she was with Boys & Girls Aid, and managed partnerships at Diversa edu. Creating an equitable future has been a steady thread throughout her career. She is honored to join an organization that ensures students have the access, support, and resources needed to reach their highest potential.


Marketing 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.

Advisory Board


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.


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.


Member | Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at VertueLab

Juan Barraza is the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at VertueLab. In this role, Juan is responsible for envisioning, creating, delivering, and continuously improving upon the support programs we offer to innovators and entrepreneurs, either on our own or with partners. Juan joins VertueLab from Portland State University, where he served as the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. He believes that entrepreneurship is a great equalizer in society, and that any individual with an idea or concept and a strong work ethic can create a great venture with a direct economic impact on family and community.


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.


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.


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.


Member | Tech Leader and Mechanical Engineer

Rihana Mungin enthusiastically joins the MESA advisory board as an established tech leader and Mechanical Engineer. As a first generation black college student and Portland State University alum, she supported many NASA experiments aboard the International Space Station. She worked to prepare new technology for astronauts to succeed on deep space missions as well as partnering with Nickelodeon to send Slime to space. Rihana brings her leadership expertise and passion for elevating historically marginalized communities from her tenure with PDXWIT, a Portland based non-profit paving the way for equity in the tech industry.


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.



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.


Member | Director of K - 5 Mathematics and Science for Portland Public Schools

Patrice Woods has been in the education field for 17 years, 14 of which have been specifically in mathematics education. She is national board certified for adolescent and young adult mathematics instruction and is the current Director of K - 5 Mathematics and Science for Portland Public Schools. In addition to this role, she has served on the P – 3 Advisory Council, the Regional Equity Committee for MESA, and the Mathematics content panel for ODE. She is also currently a member of the Racial Equity, Social Justice (RESJ) Core Team in PPS. Patrice is a lifelong learner and fervent about affecting systems to be equitable and culturally relevant in order to support the provision of greater outcomes for students in their STEM journey.


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.

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