Meet our team
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.
Cari Allyn Brooks
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.
Deysi Cisneros Maciel
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.
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.
AmeriCorps Recruitment and Program Operations Coordinator
Alisa grew up in Northeast Portland before obtaining her B.A. in Economics from Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN. While in Minnesota, she was an Undergraduate Fellow at Macalester’s Career Exploration Center and served a half term of AmeriCorps service for Minnesota Alliance with Youth. She enjoys hiking, reading (mostly fiction), and spending time with her 3 nephews.
Salvador Garcia Lopez
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
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.
Individual Giving and Major Gifts Officer
Emma was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas where she attended the University of Kansas earning degrees in English and American Studies, with a focus on Women and Gender Studies.
Emma has more than 15 years of nonprofit experience fundraising for arts education, children’s advocacy, and housing and homelessness before joining College Possible.
Access to higher education has never been more important, or more inaccessible than it is today. Emma is excited to connect with community members around a shared commitment to education equity and give donors the opportunity to make transformational impact in the lives of Oregon youth.
Emma is a member of ninety-nine girlfriends and serves on the board of OAASIS (Oregon Abuse Advocates and Survivors in Service). She lives in Southeast Portland with her husband, young son, cat, and three chickens.
Emma Lee Reasoner
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.
Senior Director, Development
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 10 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.
Career Pathways Manager
Zach joined the College Possible Oregon team as Career Pathways Manager in 2022. With a B.A. from Arizona State University and an MPA from Portland State University, Zach comes to this work after most recently coordinating a professional development program out of the Center for Public Service at Portland State that launches graduate students into public service careers in Oregon. Prior to that, Zach’s career ran the gamut in the education field—from teaching high school Spanish, to training English teachers in Nicaragua as a member of the Peace Corps, to managing student success and retention initiatives at the University of Houston. It is during his time in higher education that Zach was intimately introduced to many of the inequities and barriers to college-readiness that students from low-income and marginalized backgrounds face. Supporting College Possible’s mission that ultimately seeks to yield economic mobility, job satisfaction, and life-fulfillment for the students the organization serves is a true honor. Outside of the office, Zach can be found hiking, enjoying live music, or playing board games with friends.
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.
Navigate Program Coordinator
Jocelin is a first- generation college graduate who earned a bachelor’s degree at Oregon State University. She joined College Possible in the summer of 2022 because she wants to be the type of mentor for students that she wished she had growing up. Growing up in a low-income community with very few resources to higher education, Jocelin is very passionate about equity in education and believes that all students should have equal access to higher education regardless of their background. Throughout her college experience, she has worked directly with college access and success organizations including CAMP (College Assistance for Migrants Program), EOP (Equal Opportunities Program), TRIO, and LSAMP (Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation).
Outside of College Possible, Jocelin enjoys spending time with her loved ones, exploring the great PNW, going on scenic runs, indoor cycling, and weightlifting.
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.
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.
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.
Scholarship Program Manager, The Renaissance Foundation
Callie Forrest is the Scholarship Program Manager at The Renaissance Foundation. She graduated from Oregon State University with a bachelor's degree in human services. After college, she served two terms of service as an AmeriCorps member with College Possible Oregon. She loved her time working with her 40 wonderful students at Reynolds High School and counts it among her most meaningful work. She then worked as a program coordinator with College Possible, helping to launch a virtual advising initiative at the Oregon site. After departing College Possible, she worked in human resources, volunteer management, and program management. In her free time, she enjoys playing soccer, gardening, and hanging with her pug.
Senior Consultant, Slalom
Karen Healey is a senior consultant at Slalom, an international consulting firm and focuses on building high performing teams. Previous to Slalom, Karen had a career in marketing, leading marketing teams for organizations focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy. Her community work includes serving as a member of the education committee of 99 girlfriends (a women's giving collective) and serving on the board of Friends of Multnomah Public Library. Past volunteer experience includes volunteering with SMART as well as serving on the board of Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together local affiliates. In her spare time, you will find Karen reading, hiking or cooking (although not at the same time).
Senior Vice President, The Standard
Anne Hoot is a Senior 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).
President, Quinn Thomas
Erin serves as President of Quinn Thomas, a marketing communications and public affairs agency serving clients in healthcare, higher education and energy across the northwest. Erin’s expertise is in healthcare and technology communications and serves as strategic advisor to clients while also leading all aspects of the business. Erin comes to Quinn Thomas after many years in Washington, DC and London, where she was a communications professional for a key federal agency, global communications firm and a Fortune 100 company. Relocating to the Pacific Northwest, she was Director of Marketing and Brand Communications at Kaiser Permanente running integrated communications campaigns. Erin is passionate about volunteering and extending the Agency’s pro bono marketing and advocacy services to the community. Erin is a 2019 graduate of the Portland Business Alliance Leadership Portland Program and has a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Towson University in Maryland. She lives in Northwest Portland with her husband Steve and daughter, Cameron.
Associate Attorney, Black Helterline
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.
VP 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.
Wealth Management Consultant, The Partners Group
Geneva Stegemoller is a Wealth Management Consultant with The Partners Group. She has been with The Partners Group for 10 years and in the industry for 24 years. Geneva is very passionate about helping young individuals find their career path by mentoring through The Partners Group mentoring program and as a “Big” with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Geneva came to Oregon 15 years ago by way of Kansas City, Missouri. Go Chiefs! She has three children, ages 25, 22, and 19. When she is not at work you can find her playing golf, wine tasting or in the kitchen cooking for family and friends.
Founding Chair & Retired CEO, Fred Meyer & 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.
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.