Fariborz Pakseresht, ODHS Director
Fariborz Pakseresht (Fair'-borz Pahk'-ser-esht) became the Director of the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) in September 2017.
Fariborz came to ODHS from the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) where he was responsible for the state's juvenile corrections agency. During his time at OYA, he was honored with the Outstanding Administrator Award from the Council of Juvenile Corrections Administrators for his leadership and contributions in the field of juvenile justice.
Earlier in his career, he served eight years with ODHS in a variety of leadership roles. He also spent 11 years with the Oregon Department of Administrative Services.
Fariborz earned his undergraduate degree in political science from Willamette University and holds a certificate in public management from Willamette's Atkinson Graduate School of Management.
Liesl Wendt, ODHS Deputy Director
Liesl joined ODHS in November 2018 as the deputy director. She brings experience from both inside and outside the ODHS during her more than 20 years working in the government and non-profit sectors.
Liesl has served as a technical advisor to the Oregon Department of Justice on the temporary lodging of children and youth in our Child Welfare program. She also was the director of Self-Sufficiency Programs, departing in 2014 to serve as an interim Multnomah County commissioner and later taking on the director of Multnomah County Human Services role.
She built strong and enduring connections at the state and local levels as the Chief Executive Officer of 211Info, a community information organization. During her five years with 211Info, Liesl led the organization's expansion across Oregon, adoption of new communications technologies and an increase in the specialization of services.
She also has worked in Oregon local government and with other non-profits in policy advocacy, community engagement and program management positions, and has held leadership roles with United Way Worldwide.
Don Erickson, Chief Administrative Officer
Don Erickson is the Chief Administrative Officer for the Oregon Department of Human Services. He oversees 12 programs which help support the work of the department, including: Contracts and Procurement; Facilities; Imaging and Records Management Services; Background Check Unit; Business Information Systems; Publications and Creative Services; Payment Accuracy and Recovery; and Program Integrity.
Erickson is a licensed mental health therapist in several states including Oregon. He began his career in a Western Montana outpatient behavioral health clinic specializing in substance abuse and mental health treatment. In addition to counseling, throughout most of his career, Don has taught graduate-level courses, provided clinical supervision and served on licensing and ethics review boards. He has been recognized as an authority on the treatment of post-traumatic stress and trauma informed care and suicide prevention. Increasingly, Erickson's work has focused on the development and implementation of innovative behavioral health and human service programs.
Erickson has worked as the Bureau Chief of Behavioral Health Services for the State of Arizona where he implemented evidence-based programs for children's wraparound services, employment and housing services for consumers in behavioral health system, intensive adult case management and peer delivered services. He has authored and implemented policies for behavioral health services for infants and toddlers, children's trauma informed treatment and served as executive sponsor for Arizona's Driving Suicide to Zero program.
In 2012 Don was awarded the National Council of State Governments annual award for Innovation, Excellence and Ingenuity for his role in creating and implementing a statewide suicide prevention program.
Eric Moore, Chief Financial Officer
In July 2008 Eric moved to the Children Adults and Families Division of ODHS and became the Chief Financial Officer of ODHS in July 2011.
Eric received a BS in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and a Juris Doctorate from Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark.
After becoming a member of the Oregon State Bar, Eric began his public service career with the Department of Revenue in November 1995. In 1997 he joined the Oregon Department of Transportation to do personal services contract work. In 1998 Eric moved to the Oregon DMV to become the first Records Policy Unit manager. From 2000 to 2005 Eric was a Presiding and then Deputy Chief Administrative Law Judge with the Oregon Office of Administrative Hearings. In 2005 Eric moved to the Budget and Management Division of DAS as the ODHS Health Services and Children Adults and Families Budget and Policy Analyst for the Governor's budget.
Nakeshia Knight-Coyle, Office of Aging and People with Disabilities Director
Nakeshia Knight-Coyle was named Director of the Office of Aging and People with Disabilities (APD) in September 2022 after serving as the division's interim director.
A social justice leader who has served the State of Oregon since 2010, Nakeshia's expertise is in setting the strategic vision for human services organizations in collaboration with the communities they serve. She has over 25 years of health and human services experiences, both international and domestic, that have focused primarily in the public sphere. She previously served as APD's Equity Strategy Manager, a role in which she established a foundation for APD to systemically embed equity protocols in all policy and rulemaking as well as in its operations. Prior to rejoining ODHS in 2021, she served as the Senior Advisor for Equity Initiatives in Oregon's Early Learning Division. Her other roles with the Division included Director of Grants and Operations and Director of Programs and Cross Systems Integration. Earlier in her career she worked for APD as the Aging and Disability Resource Connection Coordinator and Interim Manager for the State Unit on Aging.
Nakeshia is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at Portland State University, holds a Master's Degree in Social Welfare and has completed significant graduate studies in health policy, management and behavior at the State University of New York at Albany and has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from Ohio University.
Rebecca Jones Gaston, Child Welfare Division Director
Rebecca became the Child Welfare Director in November 2019 after serving as the executive director of the Social Services Administration at the Maryland Department of Human Services. In that role, she oversaw both child welfare and adult services, which focuses on the needs of the elderly, disabled and vulnerable adults.
Rebecca has worked in human services and child welfare for more than 24 years as a social worker, advocate, therapist, consultant, and administrator. She spent eight years with Casey Family Programs, providing technical assistance to child welfare agencies throughout the United States. Rebecca also served as the national director of a campaign for foster and adoptive families in collaboration with the Ad Council and Children’s Bureau. She was a program director with the National Association of Former Foster Care Children of America and a program coordinator for the National Center on Permanency for African American Children at Howard University.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania.
Anna Lansky, Office of Developmental Disabilities Services Interim Director
Anna Lansky became the Interim Director of the Office of Developmental Disabilities Services (ODDS) in October 2022. Prior to this role, Anna served as ODDS Deputy Director since 2015 and helped to set and implement the strategic vision for Oregon's I/DD programs. She oversaw ODDS' policy and Medicaid authorities and led many strategic initiatives including the Compass Project and service equity.
Before coming to ODHS, Anna was assistant director of the Arkansas Division of Developmental Disabilities Services. She led efforts to improve home- and community-based services for people with I/DD, including the Community First Choice Program, Health Homes and the Payment Improvement Initiative. Before serving as assistant director, Anna worked in the Arkansas Department of Human Services on business-process improvement and the design of automated cost-allocation and financial systems. She also led departmentwide projects in the Office of Policy and Planning, including health care reform efforts.
Anna holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and Global Studies from Hendrix College, where she graduated with distinction, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She has volunteered with international nonprofit organizations including the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Heifer International.
Jana McLellan, Self-Sufficiency Programs Interim Director
Jana McLellan was appointed to the role of Interim Director of Self-Sufficiency Programs in March 2022. Prior to her current position, Jana represented ODHS in a joint department response to the COVID-19 pandemic as Director of the COVID Response and Recovery Unit. Building a large unit over two active years of the pandemic was one of the highlights of her career. Prior to this cross-departmental assignment, Jana served as Deputy Director of ODHS Child Welfare Programs beginning in 2018. For a brief eight months during this period, she also served as the Interim Director of Child Welfare while a permanent director was sought.
With years of experience in leadership roles in the public and private sectors, Jana has built a career on transformational change. As director of the State Operated Community Programs in the Office of Developmental Disabilities Services, she created the Stabilization and Crisis Unit. This effort involved working with more than 20 residential group homes to refocus their purpose and fulfill the state’s need for short-term, intensive treatment facilities for vulnerable Oregonians.
Prior to her work with ODHS, Jana served as executive director of the vocational rehabilitation nonprofit Port City Development Center, and held several roles in Multnomah County Government, including Chief Operating Officer. Jana holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in juvenile justice from the University of Oregon.
Keith Ozols, Vocational Rehabilitation Services Director
Keith Ozols was named the Director for Vocational Rehabilitation in July 2019. He has been with ODHS for eight years.
Keith previously served as the workforce and youth manager for Vocational Rehabilitation since 2015, overseeing expanding programs relating to workforce engagement, benefits planning, the Oregon Ticket to Work program and multiple transition programs for students with disabilities.
Before joining ODHS, Keith was the executive director of Incight, a Portland-based nonprofit that provides educational and employment services for people with disabilities. His prior experience includes counseling English language learners in workforce, college and career readiness.