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Meet the Oregon Health Authority VISTA Team!

Welcome 34 public health professionals who have joined the Oregon Health Authority AmeriCorps VISTA team from around the country. In a year of national service they will help build Oregon's capacity to reduce poverty and improve public health.

 

 

 


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Map view of all Oregon Health Authority VISTAs with their locations, projects and contact information.

OHA VISTA Leaders

Kyle Williams Brown joins the OHA VISTA team for his second term of service as our Fall 2017-2018 VISTA Leader! He was a member on our fall 2016 team where he served in McMinnville at Yamhill Community Care Organization, focusing on health equity. He attended Western Washington University and majored in philosophy and minored in chemistry. Kyle's past volunteer experience includes volunteering as an advocate for the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services helpline. Eventually, he hopes to attend medical school. Something unique about Kyle is that he's never tasted Pepsi! Update: Kyle got into med school, congratulations!

Sharlene Chiong joins our team as the Spring 2018-2019 VISTA Leader! Sharlene served as a VISTA at the Marion-Polk Food Share as a nutrition education coordinator, under the Mercy Corps NW VISTA Project. During her time there, she worked on project management, volunteer management, and marketing for hunger relief programs. Sharlene's hometown is Oceanside, California. Sharlene attended California Polytechnic University Pomona where she got a Bachelor's of Sciend in foods and nutrition, dietetics oiption and a minor in culinology. She eventually hopes to get an MPH and become a Registered Dietician Nutritionist. Something unique about Sharlene is that she is obsessed with food and enjoys learning about all of the aspects that come along with it: from the science to the social & environmental implications!
Vista member photo

Augusta Herman is serving at the Oregon Health Authority as our mid-year VISTA Leader. Augusta is from the Portland area and is joining the team for her second year of service; last year she served at the Multnomah County Health Department in the Director's Office where her projects focused on communications. Augusta received her bachelor's degree in medical anthropology from Creighton University and her Master of Public Health from Boston University, focusing on social and behavioral sciences and global health. Augusta provided her talents as a qualitative research assistant while in Boston, where she gained experience in project management, data analysis, and evaluation; some of her projects involved evaluating an unsuccessful community health worker intervention in Vietnam, perceptions of maternal vaccination in Zambia, and mental health treatment by Liberian traditional healers. She was also a student consultant for Massachusetts General Hospital and designed an intervention and communication strategy for reducing youth access to tobacco. She is happy to serve in the Pacific Northwest, and hopes to build her career as a public health professional and advocate in Oregon. In her spare time, she enjoys playing racquetball.  

Fall 2017-2018 cohort

Amber Madigan relocated to Oregon from Colorado Springs, Colorado. She will be serving with Coos Health & Wellness in North Bend where her projects will focus on accreditation and promoting breastfeeding friendly places. She earned a degree in health & society with a minor in biology from Doane University. Amber volunteered her time as an EMT and firefighter in Crete, Nebraska. She also completed a summer internship at Denver Health with the infectious disease department. Amber eventually hopes to attend medical school to become a surgeon. Amber’s unique assets include her ability to eat ice cream at any time of the day!

Drew Docter joins our team from Madison, Wisconsin and will be serving with Deschutes County Health Services in Bend. His project will focus on increasing access to quality healthcare for adolescents and young adults. He earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and earned certificates in both global health and environmental studies. During college, he had the opportunity to travel to Nepal as part of a community healthcare delivery course and worked alongside members of a rural Nepali village to repair a school damaged during the 2015 earthquakes. This past year, he had to the opportunity to tutor students of various ages who were studying to gain their high school equivalency. Drew would like to pursue higher education and return to school for his Master of Public Health. In his free time, Drew enjoys backpacking and would like to visit all of the National Parks in his lifetime! 

Jackson Storm relocated from Norman, Oklahoma to serve with Jefferson County Health Department where he will work on accreditation and health equity-related projects. He graduated from Dartmouth College where he studied geography. Jackson volunteered as an EMT with Dartmouth Emergency Medical Services, a student-run emergency responder service. He worked as a research assistant to investigate the environmental risk factors of ALS. He also interned at the Dartmouth organic farm. Jackson is excited to learn more about social and public health services and how they differ across the U.S. before eventually attending medical school. An interesting fact about Jackson is that he still eats his favorite childhood snack: cottage cheese and applesauce!
Lauren Thomas is a native Oregonian and will be serving in the Washington County Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program to work on community engagement and outreach. She studied public health promotion & health behavior at Oregon State University. She interned with the Center for Social Medicine in a rural village in India. Lauren also worked as a weight loss coach for two years. This coming fall she will be on her way to getting her Master of Public Health in health management and policy!
Sarah Shin relocated to Portland from Fontana, California where she’ll be serving in OHA's Injury & Violence Prevention Section as the Opioid Data Coordinator. She graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a degree in anthropology. Before VISTA, Sarah worked as a research assistant and produced a paper that conceptualized pathways to initiation and heightened use among African American female cocaine users. She also had the opportunity of volunteering at a women’s shelter with her sorority. In the future, she sees herself continuing her education and getting her PhD in anthropology and eventually becoming a professor. Sarah loves to rock climb and she is obsessed with pugs! 

Meghan Field is a Portland native and will be serving with Umatilla County Public Health to lead the Year of Wellness campaign and accreditation. She studied an array of courses in social science including urban geography, public health and urban planning at Portland State University. She has worked as a personal trainer in a gym and has worked with many individuals from all kinds of backgrounds. When she was 18, she volunteered at Loaves and Fishes senior center in Southeast Portland, feeding seniors and visiting with them. Meghan hopes to return to school to obtain a Master of Public Health or graduate degree in geography. She believes her time as a VISTA is just the opportunity that she needs to accomplish her long term goals of achieving a higher degree of discipline and improving her written and verbal communication skills. Meghan prides herself in making dad jokes and puns in every situation! Her ultimate life goal is to provide laughter to strangers, family, and friends.

Erin Scionti relocated to Pendleton from New Haven, Connecticut and will be serving with Umatilla County Public Health as the Community Health Improvement Planning (CHIP) VISTA. For the past three years, she worked for Simply Smiles, a non-profit organization focused in Oaxaca, Mexico and on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. She spent time on the reservation planning nutritious meals for the community and volunteers, hosting a daily summer camp, organizing a youth leadership program, and facilitating a youth wellness and suicide prevention program. Erin is dedicated to learning and gaining many experiences during her VISTA year. Eventually, she’d like to continue her education in a public health-related field. One thing unique about Erin is that she was the president of her school’s rock climbing club.


Seth Henderson joins our team from Cameron, Texas to serve in St. Helens at the Public Health Foundation of Columbia County, working on public health accreditation. He received his Master of Public Health in health policy and management from Texas A&M University, and his bachelor’s degree in health promotion from the University of North Texas. Seth also received his Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) certification. Before VISTA, Seth helped worked on designing community health assessments at the local health department and worked on quality improvement. Seth hopes to become the director of a health department and would potentially like to pursue a law degree. One thing unique about Seth is that the only time he’s left the U.S. was to study abroad in China!

Jenny Bennett joins the team from Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Florida. She will be serving at Yamhill County Public Health in McMinnville where her work will focus on building county-wide partnerships with a focus on those living in poverty with lack of access to health care services, affordable housing, and healthful food. Previously, she interned with a nonprofit, Girls On The Run and worked to empower young girls to recognize their limitless potential. More recently, she worked with Jacksonville’s growing homeless population to gain safe and stable housing. Jenny envisions herself returning to school to pursue a degree in public administration and focus her work in nonprofit management. In her free time, she finds herself watching The Office!
Bert Cramer joins the team from Cambridge, Maryland to serve with Coos Health & Wellness, focusing on emergency preparedness. He earned a bachelor’s degree in development sociology from Cornell University and continued to pursue his education, earning his master’s degree in politics & security from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Academy, as well as a Master of Science in disaster resilience leadership science from Tulane University. He has served with both Peace Corps and Peace Corps Response in Kyrgystan. He also worked as a graduate research assistant for the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy in New Orleans, Louisiana. After VISTA, he hopes to work in the public sector for disaster management with an emphasis on translational research. One fun fact about Bert: he loves spicy food!
John Schmiedl joins our team from Chicago, Illinois to serve in Salem with Marion County Emergency Management. He double majored in public health and emergency management at St. Louis University and has worked as a nature counselor for six summers at a summer camp. This past year, John worked as a track and field coach and personal tutor at Loyola Academy. He looks forward to learning more about the recovery phase of the emergency management process, and its intersection with behavioral/mental health. Career wise, he hopes to pursue a master’s degree or apply to law school. Something unique about John is that he’s never left the country!
Kendra McSheridan joins our team from Burlington, Washington and is serving with the Student Nutrition and Activity Clinic for Kids (SNACK) program to work on outreach and program development. She recently graduated with her bachelors in exercise science from Linfield College. Before beginning VISTA, she interned with the SNACK program and worked as an Anatomy TA during college. She has ample experience volunteering throughout the McMinnville community. She intends to go to graduate school in a medical/health-related field. Kendra spent all of June traveling around Europe!
Peter Ngo returns to the team for his second term of service in OHA's Injury & Violence Prevention Section as the Opioid Data and Outreach Coordinator VISTA! Over the past year, he served with the OHA Public Health Division on health equity, language, and accessibility of services. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a Bachelor of Science in biology and a Bachelor of Arts in creative advertising. Previously, he worked as a hotline operator and hospital advocate for the Dallas Area Rape Crises Center and organized a Take Back the Night rally on his college campus. Peter would like to go to medical school while also obtaining a Master of Public Health. He hopes to become a women’s healthcare provider, address women’s health disparities on urgent issues like maternal mortality and opioid abuse. Peter considers himself to be a closeted hippie!


Chris Partipilo comes to Portland from Corvallis, Oregon where he recently graduated with his Master of Public Health in human development & family studies from Oregon State University. He is serving with Multnomah County Environmental Health in the Healthy Homes program with a focus on outreach in the refugee community. Chris worked as a graduate research assistant on the Kindergarten Readiness Study at Oregon State University. He worked with a team to assess and develop interventions to improve self-regulation for children entering the formal school system. Something unique about Chris is that he was adopted from South Korea and his master’s thesis focused on the experiences of transracial adoptees using cultural services during their upbringing and it's relation to substance usage in adulthood. He is certainly motivated to serve in a position where he can positively affect various outcomes for marginalized and underserved populations.
Jill Robinson comes to us from Boston, Massachusetts to serve with the Oregon Health Authority Health Systems Division, focusing on family behavioral health in Salem. She studied women’s and gender studies with a concentration on globalization, poverty, and human rights at Georgetown University. Prior to VISTA she was a staff assistant in donor relations at Harvard, stewarding donors and alumni on behalf of the university president. Eventually, Jill would like to pursue her Master of Public Health with a concentration on health policy and global health. An interesting fact about Jill is that she is tone, pitch, and rhythm deaf, but she can differentiate colors and hues near perfectly!
Julian Diaz relocated to Portland from Atlanta, Georgia. He is serving in the Oregon Health Authority's Public Health Division with a project focus on statewide health equity. Before joining the team, he worked at the CDC in the National Center for HIV, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention Center policy office. Julian is dedicated to reducing and eliminating health disparities due to socioeconomic status and race through policy. He received his Master of Public Health with an emphasis in health policy from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. He’s unique in that he’s fluent in Spanish!
Kevin Clark joins the team from Baker City, Oregon to serve with Tillamook County Public Health and leading the “Year of Wellness” campaign, engaging community partners to support the campaign. He graduated from Eastern Oregon University and majored in physical activity & health. Previously, he worked in the Get Outside After School Activity Program during his final year of college. The program aimed to teach adolescents aged 12-15 fun, non-competitive outdoor activities and cancer prevention knowledge. He also worked as a security officer for three years at Eastern Oregon University. Kevin would like to eventually go to graduate school to continue his education in public health and wellness. Something unique about Kevin is that he is a self-proclaimed hacky sack champion!
Robert Bauman relocated to Newport from Richland, Washington to serve with Lincoln County Public Health in Newport to work on health equity related projects. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in political science. Last summer he had the opportunity to intern in the state offices of US Senator Maria Cantwell. Robert would like to go back to school for his Master of Public Policy. On the long term, he would like to work in public service in some capacity. An interesting fact about Robert is that he competed on a game show on ESPN this past year!
Anders-Kass.jpg Anders Kass will be serving with Linn County Public Health in Albany, focusing on emergency preparedness. His first term of service was with Heart of Oregon Corps Youth Build in Bend where he wrote grants and worked on improving development resources. He attended Linfield College where he studied psychology. Anders has also interned with YouthMOVE Oregon, a nonprofit organization, working as a Peer Support Specialist for six months. In the future, Anders would like to pursue a Master of Social Work and eventually work his way into the youth advocacy field. An interesting fact about Anders is that he had a brain tumor at the age of twelve.
Zach Wells 1.jpg Zach Wells returns to Oregon to serve with the Opioid Safety Team at the Multnomah County Health Department. He previously served as the Outreach Coordinator for the Central Illinois Pride Health Center. His work helped to provide quality and inclusive healthcare to LGBTQ+ community members living in Central Illinois. He majored in Public Health with a minor in Critical Gender Studies from the University of California, San Diego. Eventually, he hopes to attend graduate school for his master’s degree in social work and pursue a career that works to provide access to healthcare for marginalized communities. We are sure that Zach has many unique attributes, but one he wanted to share is that he won a lip sync battle dressed as Miley Cyrus. 

 

Spring 2018-2019 cohort
Jaime Collazo joins our team from Leander, Texas. He is serving at Mid Rogue Community Foundation as the Development Coordinator VISTA, where he will work will work to improve housing access and address the social determinants of health. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Texas. In the past, Jaime interned with the Texas Department of State Health Services and volunteered with Breakthrough, a non-profit that helps students from low-income communities graduate from college. Jaime is interested in learning more about a career in public health. A fun fact about Jaime is that he can draw pretty well!
Yvan Saastamoinen comes to Portland from Las Cruces, New Mexico, to serve as OHA’s Emergency Medical Services and Trauma VISTAYvan attended the University of New Mexico, where she majored in psychology and minored in economics. She previously interned with the Make-A-Wish foundation in New Mexico, and volunteered at the Agora Crisis Center, a call center that provides emotional support to clients and specializes in suicide prevention. Yvan plans to attend graduate school for a public service program in economics or public policy. Yvan is an avid traveler, and once spent 7 weeks on a cross-country road trip, where she traveled to 28 states! 
Marisa Fiat will be serving in Portland at the Oregon Pediatric Society as their Program Development VISTA! Marisa considers her hometowns to be Olympia, Washington, and Miami, Florida. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami in religious studies, and her master’s degree from Cardinal Stritch in urban education. In the past, Marisa was a research assistant for a team investigating quality of life after traumatic spinal cord injuries. She also taught kindergarten in Milwaukee with Teach for America right before the start of her VISTA year! Marisa hopes to go on to earn a master’s degree in public health with a focus in pediatric nutrition. An interesting fact about Marisa is that she doesn’t have a sense of smell!
Casey Fritz comes to us from Springfield, Illinois, to serve at Lines for Life as their Communications VISTA! Her work there will focus on developing effective communications that connect economically disadvantaged individuals to mental health support and services. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in public relations from Illinois State University. In the past, she worked as a public relations intern with Hoogland Center for the Arts, and volunteered with World Merit, a Non-governmental organization. In the future, she hopes to pursue work in international affairs and global health! Carys is also a big theater fan and performer, and she hopes to join community theater productions in Portland!
Victoria Sanstrum will be joining the team from Corvallis, Oregon. She will serve at the Oregon Health Authority as the Statewide Vulnerable Populations VISTA! Victoria attended Oregon State University, where she majored in political science and minored in social justice. Victoria previously worked as a Corvallis Youth Volunteer Corps Team Leader, where she got to help youth participate in service projects. During her time as a canvasser for OSPIRG, she discovered her passion for advocacy work, and the impact that grassroots political action can have. As a VISTA, she hopes to gain a deeper, real-world understanding of the research and analysis side of policy implementation. When Victoria was thirteen, she participated in a service trip to Assuit, Egypt!
Gabe Lavaly is a Portland resident and will be serving in Portland at Lines for Life as their YouthLine VISTA! He attended Portland State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science in community development. Gabe previously volunteered with TRiO student support services at Mt. Hood Community College, where he coordinated activities, mentored students, and held self-health events! He first discovered his passion for public service during a park building project when he was younger. Gabe is excited to learn more about the non-profit world as an AmeriCorps VISTA, and to bring his community organizing skills to Lines for Life!
Corie Ufert joins our team from San Antonio, Texas! She will serve as the Umatilla County Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention VISTA, where she will work to prevent opioid and other prescription drug abuse. She earned her bachelor’s degree in public health and epidemiology from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She worked as a certified nurse aide while completing her degree. She’s also worked as a research intern for the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, participated in environmental clean ups, and organized her sorority’s annual for 5k for juvenile diabetes for three years in a row! Corie hopes to work in health policy someday, and get her master’s degree in either public health or health policy. A fun fact about Corie is that she is an avid cook and loves to explore new types of food and cooking techniques!
Matthew Persson relocated from Sycamore, Illinois, to Roseburg, where he is serving at the Health Care Coalition of Southern Oregon as the Douglas County Health Equity VISTA. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, Chicago, where he majored in sociology. During his time at UIC, he volunteered with UIC Engage, a program that allowed him to tutor underprivileged students. Matthew has also worked as a blogger for startup companies, and he is interested in pursuing a career as an editor or writer. A fun fact about Matthew is that he is the youngest of six children!
Tajel Mehta moved from Seattle, Washington to Eugene to serve with HIV Alliance as their Education and Outreach VISTA! Tajel has a Bachelor of Arts in international relations from the University of San Diego, and a master’s degree from King’s College London in global health and social justice. She has done policy research and global nurse management for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health, and worked with the International Rescue Committee to prepare 35 child refugees for academic and social life in the U.S. educational system! Tajel hopes to go on to earn a Doctorate in Public Health. A fun fact is that she is a dual citizen of both the U.S. and U.K.!
Hannah Nahorniak is from Reno, Nevada and is serving as the Klamath County Health Promotion VISTA! She attended the University of Nevada, Reno, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in public health. Previously, Hannah worked as an intern for Immunize Nevada, where she advocated for immunizations. After graduating from college, she volunteered as an English Teacher in Nepal at a women’s empowerment center. Hannah hopes to work in clinical research in the future. Hannah has also been a dancer for 15 years, and has danced competitively!
Carissa Quasny comes to Portland from Chicago, to serve as Multnomah County’s Environmental Health Tobacco Prevention VISTA! She earned her bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University, where she majored in public health and minored in business and entrepreneurship. She previously interned with Kaiser Permanente for two summers, where she managed their internship program, and she has volunteered with the Cascade AIDS project. She is currently working towards a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and hopes to become a public health nurse! A fun fact about Carissa is that she is in a band called Surfacer, and they are recording an album this year!

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