Our Team – Oregon
Emielle Nischik (she/her/hers)
College Possible Oregon Executive Director Emielle Nischik joined the organization in 2015 and previously served as their director of development and communications, helping to triple the budget and expand programming and students served across the state.
Nischik brings more than 15 years of experience in business development, nonprofit leadership and fundraising. As a first-generation college graduate, she believes strongly in the power of education and is honored to be able to meld her personal experience and passion to further the mission of College Possible. She holds a Masters of Public Administration and a certificate in nonprofit management from Portland State University and volunteers with several community based organizations focused on educational equity in Oregon, including KairosPDX, Ninety-nine Girlfriends Women’s Giving Collective and on the Partnership Council with All Hands Raised. The greatest joy and challenge of Nischik’s life is being a mother to two small children and teaching them to love all the outdoor adventures her home state offers.
Contact Emielle at ENischik@CollegePossible.org.
Melody Aron (she/her/hers)
College Program Coordinator
Melody was born and raised in Las Vegas, NV as a first-generation Eritrean American. Her parents immigrated from Eritrea and Ethiopia fleeing a time of war in hopes of creating a better life for themselves and their families. Growing up in an immigrant household she and her family were faced with many challenges in every part of life and as an adult, she understands the importance of being aware of the resources available in order to maximize our opportunities in this country. Giving back to her community has become a high priority for Melody as a result of her life experiences and she hopes to leave a lasting impact through College Possible as well as her other avenues of interest. Melody enjoys traveling and learning about the history of the different parts of the world and their people and finds so much value in those experiences. She enjoys spending time in the park or hiking with her two-year-old Dalmatian Penny mainly to drain her of all her energy. She also has an obsession with music and movies from all eras/genres and food as a wannabe vegan.
Cari Allyn Brooks (she/her/hers)
Director of College Success
Cari comes to College Possible from a career in higher education that included roles as an English instructor, advisor, academic coach, writing center director and student services director. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Learning Sciences at Clemson University, where she studies access and equity in higher education, with a focus on academic tracking as a social justice issue. Cari enjoys traveling with her husband, three adult children, and daughter-in-law, especially to destinations that let her indulge her interest in Disney entertainment and history. She enjoys running slowly, losing herself in movies, reading good books and getting to know her new hometown of Portland.
Christina Carl (she/her/hers)
Corporate & Community Engagement Officer
Christina joined College Possible Oregon in 2018 as Development Manager and currently holds the role of Corporate & Community Engagement Officer. She has spent her career in non-profit fundraising, including healthcare, disability services, history and arts. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Christina graduated with a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. She spends her time outside of work volunteering with her child’s school, being active and spending as much time as possible with her family, including her children who inspire her to work for educational equity where all youth have opportunities to learn and thrive.
Deysi Cisneros Maciel (she/her/ella)
Senior College Program Coordinator
Deysi joined College Possible in 2018 after serving a year of service as an AmeriCorps member at Willamette Academy, a college access program in Salem, OR. As an immigrant, first-generation and student of color, Deysi experienced lots of challenges in accessing and completing college. Willamette Academy provided Deysi with the guidance and mentorship to feel empowered and resilient to achieve her goal of attending and graduating from Willamette University. Through her participation as a middle and high school student in a college access program, she saw the value and influence programs like this can have on students from underserved communities. This influenced her commitment to social justice and education equity. Deysi hopes that future generations know that they belong in higher education and that they can walk on campus with confidence since their identities and experiences are equally valued and important.
Yulissa Flores-Lopez (she/her/hers)
High School Program Coordinator
Yulissa comes from a first-generation, low-income background. Her parents are immigrants who came to Oregon in the '90s to start a better life for themselves and their children. Although not understanding English or the American culture, what they did understand is that education is the key to a better future. Yulissa is the oldest of four and growing up it was instilled in her, and her siblings, that they would go to college and graduate. This dream was not just her parent’s dream, it eventually became her dream. Being the oldest, Yulissa felt lost in the process and was unsure of how to do this. She got lucky in her junior year of high school. College Possible had expanded and was recruiting for its first cohort in Oregon. She quickly signed up and was accepted into the program. After joining, Yulissa had access to so much knowledge and resources. Thanks to College Possible, in 2019 Yulissa was able to become the first in her family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. This was a momentous year for her family; but it did not last long, in a good way, the following year, her younger sister also graduated with her bachelor’s degree. What was once a dream has now become a key milestone in her life. It is no longer something that they can only imagine but something that can actually become a reality and has now become normalized in her family. Yulissa can’t help but feel thankful for the impact that College Possible and other access programs have on families like hers. Her life trajectory and knowledge have greatly expanded and she is proud to be a bridge between the two worlds that she has been balancing in the United States.
Salvador Garcia Lopez (he/him/el)
High School Program Coordinator
Although Salvador was born in Portland, Oregon, his earliest memories of growing up took place in a small town in Michoacan, Mexico. Salvador returned to Portland at the age of seven without knowing English and embarked on the journey of public school in East Portland. At a young age, Salvador knew he wanted to go to college but did not know how to get there. In the spring of 2013, Salvador heard about College Possible recruiting for their first Oregon cohort and instantly knew that he needed to be a part of it.
Salvador attended Portland Community College where he earned his AAOT and then transferred to Western Oregon University where he earned his B.S. in Earth Science with a minor in Biology. While in college, Salvador volunteered and worked with organizations that focused on college access and success like Upward Bound, Greater Than and TRiO.
Upon graduating from college, Salvador moved to Philadelphia, PA to do a year of service with College Possible Philadelphia and then moved to New York City, NY to do another year of service at Great Oaks Charter School NYC.
Outside of College Possible, Salvador enjoys being outside and exploring the beauty of Oregon (rain or shine), catching up with friends over food or coffee, going to concerts, and training for local 10Ks and half-marathons.
Margarita Gutierrez Lemus (she/her/hers)
Senior Program Director
Margarita bring personal and professional experience to her role in furthering the mission of College Possible. In addition to her commitment to educational equity, she brings in aspects of her experience organizing and mobilizing for economic and immigration justice. Margarita was born in Michoacán, Mexico and immigrated to the United States at the age of five. She grew up in Salem, Oregon, and graduated with a B.A. in ethnic studies from Willamette University where her commitment to justice began.
Margarita dreams of a world so just, that programs like College Possible are no longer needed.
Contact Margarita at MGutierrezLemus@CollegePossible.org.
Elena Hein (she/her/hers)
Senior Development Director
Elena Hein (MPA) began working for the organization in the fall of 2020. She came to College Possible with two decades of fundraising experience, including working for nonprofits in human services, health and the arts. Elena has focused her career on advancing social justice and is excited to support educational equity in our community. As a first-generation college student, Elena understands the challenge College Possible students face in navigating the higher education system and wishes more students could have a coach to help them make it to college graduation.
Elena received her Associate in Arts from Portland Community College, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oregon and her master’s in public administration with a focus on nonprofit management from Portland State University. In her free time, Elena likes to hike, make jewelry, listen to podcasts, and spend time with her nieces and nephews.
Contact Elena at EHein@CollegePossible.org.
Willa Johann (she/her/hers)
High School Program Coordinator
Willa joins College Possible with ten years of experience in student support, having worked as a composition instructor at the University of New Hampshire and as a college admissions and writing coach here in Portland. Having attended college on a needs-based scholarship, she is deeply committed to college access and educational equity work and is thrilled to support College Possible students on their journey to and through college. With a background in writing and editing, she is particularly passionate about empowering others to tell their stories. Out of the office she spends most of her free time gardening, exploring the outdoors, and paddling on the Willamette River as the coach of local outrigger canoe team Wasabi GRIT.
Emma Lee Reasoner (she/her/hers)
Recruitment and Program Operations Coordinator
Emma grew up in a bi-coastal, biracial family, spending time in rural Maine and the Bay Area of California. After completing her B.A. in English and Ethnic Studies, Emma served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with a college-access nonprofit called Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano. Emma also taught First-Year Writing at the University of Connecticut while taking the opportunity to study literature some more. Her favorite work involves narratives of immigration and transition, and she is passionate about supporting students as they define their own personal histories and futures.
Nicole Mays (she/her/hers)
Senior Grants Manager
Nicole is a first-generation college graduate who earned her bachelor’s degree at Western Washington University. She joined College Possible in 2014 because of her belief in the power of education and equitable opportunity for all students. She brings ten years of nonprofit experience in fundraising, operations and communications. In her free time, Nicole coaches high school volleyball and loves to hike and explore the pacific northwest.
Efrain Ortega (he/him/his)
Navigate Program Coordinator
Efrain has been involved in higher education advocacy since his time as an undergraduate at Oregon State University. Having the opportunity to work with College Possible as the Navigate Program Coordinator, he partners with eight communities in rural Northwest and Eastern Oregon. In his role with the Navigate team, he has been able to design and implement a college access curriculum that tailors to students from rural backgrounds. Efrain joined College Possible in 2020 and enjoys every opportunity to support the next generation of students achieve a college degree.
Casey Rauch (she/her/hers)
Director of College Access
Casey began her work with College Possible in the Program Coordinator position, working in both the Flagship and Navigate programs for three and a half years. She took on the role of Program Manager, College Access in the fall of 2020.
As a first-generation college graduate from a low-income background, Casey is passionate about educational equity and believes education should be a right, not a privilege. Growing up in a small, rural community in the midwest, college was not acknowledged as an option for everyone. After earning her degree in English and Secondary Education, Casey taught for a year before joining AmeriCorps, where she served students in one of our College Possible partner high schools. Casey’s personal experience to and through college, along with her professional experience working in education continue to fuel Casey’s commitment to college access and education equity.
Outside of work, Casey is proud to be the mother of two small children who challenge and inspire her daily. She enjoys spending time with her family, exploring the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest.
Tuyen Ta (she/her/they)
Development and Administrative Associate
Tuyen ("Twin") joined the College Possible Team in November 2021 as our Development and Administrative Associate. She is passionate about higher education, community-centric fundraising, and building relationships in the communities we serve. Tuyen grew up in Northeast Portland and returned to Portland after graduating from Colgate University with a major in English Literature and a minor in Rhetoric and Writing. During college, Tuyen had opportunities to work for a range of different nonprofits, including an environmental grassroots organization in upstate New York and a nonprofit for migrants and refugees' rights in Cape Town, South Africa. Tuyen credits many of the opportunities she had in college to the coaching and mentoring she was given as a College Possible student from 2015 to 2020. Outside of work, Tuyen loves to explore new restaurants and small businesses in Portland.
Dr. Robin Beavers
VP of Philanthropy & DEI Initiatives at Trillium Family Services
Dr. Robin Beavers is a community engagement and outreach specialist dedicated to developing and managing programs that promote the wellness, equity, and inclusion of all people in our society. For over 20 years she has served as a higher education and career development professional; including 12 years at Self Enhancement, Inc.(SEI) as a post-high program manager, and four years at Portland State University as the Assistant Director for Diversity Recruitment & Outreach in the Office of Admissions. In recent years, she has moved into the world of philanthropy, hoping to inspire others to invest time and finances to help all communities thrive, including serving as the Development Director for SEI for two years, VP for Advancement & External Relations at Warner Pacific University, and currently serves as the VP of Philanthropy & DEI Initiatives at Trillium Family Services. Dr. Beavers is an adjunct professor who teaches MBA and organizational leadership graduate-level courses and holds a B.S.in Business Management and Communication from Concordia University, a M.S. in Education, Policy, Foundation and Administration from Portland State University, and an Ed.D. in Education Leadership from Concordia University. Dr. Beavers was born and raised in Portland, OR, by her parents who have been married for over 60 years. She is the youngest of four children, has two adult sons and two young granddaughters.
Group Physician Advisory Services Practice Leader
Northwest native, Thomas (Tommy) and his wife Kirsten are proud parents of their ten-year-old daughter, Quincey Elizabeth. To round out the family, the Bookman’s have a four-year-old Havaton named Piper. When they are not busy being "managed" by Quincey, the Bookman’s enjoy local travel to visit family, everything outdoors and gatherings with friends. In addition, Bookman is a proud graduate, and former student athlete of Oregon State University (class of 1994) and is the employee benefits practice leader with Group Physician Advisory Services (division of The Partners Group) with over twenty-five years of industry related experience.
Retired, President, AT&T Oregon
George Granger, now retired, is the former President of AT&T-Oregon, where he focused his career on the wireless industry and made a remarkable commitment to community service. His work focused on community partnerships and working with elected officials throughout the state. Granger’s wireless career started at Cingular Wireless, where he became the company’s Director of External Affairs. After Cingular merged with AT&T Wireless, Granger managed AT&T’s relationship in an important region of California that included Silicon Valley. In 2013 Granger was promoted to President of AT&T-Oregon and has embedded himself in the community ever since.
Granger is passionate about driving innovation in education and investing in local communities. For nearly 20 years, he was an elected member of the Castro Valley School Board in California, serving as president of the board three times. Granger was an activist president, leading three successful campaigns to pass school bonds that funded more than $100 million in facility improvements. Granger has continued his dedication to innovation in Oregon, serving as a current board member of Friends of the Children, College Possible, and the Technology Association of Oregon, along with supporting dozens of worthwhile efforts across the state.
Managing Director, Intel Corporation
Clark Haass brings twenty-five years’ worth of marketing and business development experience to the Oregon Board. After working for Extended Systems for eight years, including serving as director of product marketing, he moved to Portland to work for Intel. For the past 22 years, Haass has been with Intel and is currently a Managing Director in Corporate Business Development. He is eager to bring his knowledge of strategic planning and marketing to the Oregon board. Haass received both a bachelor's and Master of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Wyoming and the University of Washington, respectively, and an MBA from Boise State University.
Vice President, The Standard
Anne Hoot is a Vice President responsible for Corporate Development activities at The Standard. During her 25 year career at the company, she has performed a variety of roles, from actuary to leading the fixed income investment portfolio to heading up a personal finance start-up venture for the company. She began her career as an actuarial student in Dallas, Texas. Landing in Portland in the 80’s she has achieved the designation of Fellow, Society of Actuaries and is a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries.
Sona Karentz Andrews
Professor of Geography and Provost Emerita, Portland State University
Dr. Sona Karentz Andrews is a Professor of Geography and Provost Emerita at Portland State University. She grew up in New England and has lived in Portland for ten years. Sona began her college studies at the Nishan Palanjian Armenian College in Beirut, Lebanon and completed her bachelor’s degree in geography from Worcester State College in Massachusetts. Her master's and Ph.D. are from Arizona State University (also in geography). Sona has held faculty appointments in Geography at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Boise State University, and Portland State University. She has held administrative appointments at a number of the universities, including served as Portland State University’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Vice Chancellor of the Oregon University System, and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Boise State. Sona also serves on the Portland Opera Board. Her previous board service includes Oregon Humanities, Planned Parenthood Willamette Valley, the City Club of Boise, Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership, and the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame. Sona is bilingual (she speaks English and Armenian).
Associate General Counsel, GINN Group
Sarah Mathenia is a long-time supporter of College Possible Oregon. As well as giving financially, Sarah has spent time with staff understanding and championing the College Possible model. Her interest in getting more involved on the board stems from her experience growing up. Daughter of a single mom, she was not financially privileged, but her mom’s dedication to her growth and the privilege of attending a good high school cleared Sarah’s path to college. She wants that opportunity for all students.
Sarah graduated from college and law school at University of California - Davis. She is a member of the bar in Oregon and Washington. With expertise in real estate and business law, she practices with GINN Group. She expects to bring career experience, practical business sense and industry partnerships to her board work and looks forward to working on the development committee.
Sarah balances her career with family time, currently juggling at-home learning for her two young children with her external obligations. She is fluent in Spanish and briefly owned a boutique which offered artisan-made clothing, jewelry and textiles from Central and South America and Mexico. If you have an interest in criminal and forensic psychology, you will find a curious partner in Sarah.
Environmental Manager, Portland General Electric
Tom Nilan is an environmental professional with 25+ years of experience in engineering consulting, trade association, and electric utility industries. Tom joined the College Possible Oregon board in 2018, where his interest in helping youth without a family higher education history/financial means navigate the myriad of challenges of the college process, with the aim of a level playing field for all. He has served on the boards of the Deschutes River Conservancy (water conservation and habitat restoration) and Post 15 (outdoors experiences for high school youth). Tom has degrees in Chemical Engineering (Penn State) and an MBA (UCLA). He has lived in Portland since 2002, where he and his family (one of whom is still in college) enjoy the Pacific Northwest’s great outdoors at every opportunity.
Vice President Sustainability, Target
Agata Ramallo-Garcia leads integration of sustainable businesses practices for Nike, Inc. Her team supports business functions across the company in their sustainability strategies and efforts. Ramallo-Garcia also oversees strategic planning and annual business planning process, including business case development and financial valuation of sustainability, performance management of sustainability targets, predictive analytics and the development of tools to measure business impact of sustainability. Ramallo-Garcia, a 15-year Nike veteran was previously responsible for strategic planning, change management and program/project management at Nike in the US and Europe, managing various functions including corporate responsibility, supply chain, finance and information technology. Before joining Nike, she worked at IBM in The Netherlands.
Attorney, Charese Rohny Law Office, LLC
Charese Rohny has represented individuals as an attorney for over 16 years. Since she started her legal career as law clerk in 1993 at Barton & Strever, P.C. and Rosenthal & Greene, P.C., she has dedicated herself to promoting positive change for individuals. She has had the privilege of working with and being mentored by some of the most respected, honored and successful trial lawyers who have relentlessly fought for individuals and social justice. Charese graduated from Willamette University College of Law in 1995, was admitted to the bar, and began working in Salem, Oregon at Vick & Conroyd, P.C. a well-respected high volume practice representing physically and emotionally injured individuals. There she was able to build and manage a large case load that allowed her to gain a substantial amount of trial, arbitration and deposition experience in her first six years of practice. Her practice has always included employment discrimination and civil rights cases. In 2001, she moved to Portland, Oregon to work on more complex commercial litigation and to focus more on employment law at Markowitz, Herbold, Glade and Mehlhaf, P.C. She then left to become a partner at Crispin Employment Lawyers where she was able to exclusively handle cases involving employee’s rights. She started her own firm in downtown Portland in March 2006.
National Director of Sales Operations, Wyld
Natasha Shauger is the National Director of Sales Operations for Wyld. Previously, she was the director responsible for National Sales Operations and Business Development for Xerox’s US Channel Sales organization. During her tenure with Xerox, she has held various roles within channel sales, supply chain and engineering. Natasha comes from a lineage with a strong commitment to philanthropic work in the education space – specifically college prep and cultural enrichment; and has a passion for seeing underrepresented students flourish academically by enabling them with tools, confidence and community support. Natasha has a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and an MBA from Portland State University. Originally from California, Natasha is a 19-year resident of Oregon and enjoys her free time exploring life’s adventures with her husband, daughter and son.
Retired Chair & CEO, Compli
Ken Thrasher, retired as chairman of the Board of Alternative Legal Solutions Inc. (dba Compli) in December 2018, and was its chairman and chief executive officer from 2002 through December 2009. Prior to joining Compli, Ken served 19 years in executive positions with Fred Meyer Inc., including serving as president and chief executive officer from 1999 to 2001, as executive vice president and chief administrative officer from 1997 to 1999, as senior vice president and chief financial officer from 1987 to 1997, and as vice president and treasurer from 1982 to 1987. In addition College Possible, Ken also serves on the boards of directors of NW Natural, The Jensen Quality Growth Fund, Children’s Public/Private Partnership, and is on the OSU College of Business Dean’s Council of Excellence. He is also a senior director on the Oregon Business Council. Prior to 2020, Ken served as a member of the board of directors for GSL Solutions Inc, Children’s Institute, Friends of the Children, Education Northwest, the Portland State University Foundation, the Cradle to Career Council of All Hands Raised, Albertina Kerr Centers, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and is past chair of Oregon’s Quality Education Commission. Ken has a B.S. in business administration from Oregon State University and in 2012 was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Portland State University.
Advocacy & Partnership Associate, Children’s Institute
Amy joined Children’s Institute in 2019 as another step in a career of public service. She worked as a policy advisor in Portland City Hall and then as a youth programs coordinator in various schools across Portland. Amy’s current work at Children's Institute is focused on embedding community engagement practices into policy advocacy. She is grateful for all the students and families who have shared their lives with her, and in turn, she hopes to elevate their voices at the policy table. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Carleton College in sociology and anthropology with a concentration in educational studies.
Ambassador Board Members
Project Manager, ELSO, Inc.
Erin has been learning, growing and teaching across Oregon since her youth. As a neurodivergent learner who struggled in the public school system, Erin consistently found refuge and learning in nature. Inspired and empowered by the beautiful complexity of the world around her, she began her professional journey in natural resources, an interest which grew into a deep passion for unpacking human relationships with the natural world and led her to an ever-evolving career as an educator. In all aspects of her life, Erin is deeply grounded in the importance of recognizing the ways in which dominant systems cause harm and believes in a restorative, community-centered approach to healing people and the planet. Erin finds joy and strength in family, friends, good books, overly-complex board games, time in nature, and hanging out with her horse Trillium.
Scholarship Program Manager, The Renaissance Foundation
Callie grew up in Humboldt County in northern California. After graduating college, she served as a College Possible flagship high school coach and then CollegePoint leadership team member. Since then she has worked in human resources, volunteer management, and scholarship program management.
Attorney, Tonkon Torp
Mick Harris is a business attorney at Tonkon Torp in Portland, Oregon. Mick's interests outside of work include writing, reading, podcasts, comedy, sailing, horology, fighting global warming and reveling in Portland's excellent restaurant scene.
Client Associate, Mercer Advisors
Korina was part of the first Portland cohort of AmeriCorps members for College Possible Oregon and worked with College Possible's first class of graduating seniors as a high school community partners program VISTA. She is passionate about providing higher education access to all and furthering College Possible's mission of educational equality. She currently works for Mercer Advisors and lives in North Portland with her husband and two dogs.
Partnerships Director, Portland Workforce Alliance
Native Portlander. Cat mom. Passionate about access to higher education, I strive for the opportunity to authentically collaborate with individuals to prepare and guide their success within it.
Donavan Miller is a Financial Advisor at Edward Jones. He is extremely passionate about partnering with established professionals to help them reach their desired future state. When not in the office doing what I love, I enjoy fishing, hiking, watching/playing sports and volunteering.