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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.




oregon map

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


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.  

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 the OHA 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!
Carys 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 Multnomah County Opioid Prevention 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 the Multnomah County 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!
                                                      Fall 2018-2019 cohort

Adam Hostetter joins the team from Windsor, Illinois as the Built Environment VISTA with Crook County Health Department in Prineville. With a degree in geography and minors in environmental studies and biological sciences, Adam hopes to pursue a graduate degree in planning or geography. Prior to moving to Oregon, Adam worked at the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, a significant bird migration area in the Midwest. He has experience assisting reforestation projects, community education, surveying, and conservation and preservation work. Additionally, Adam is an Eagle Scout who enjoys learning about plants! 

An OHA AmeriCorps VISTA Partnership alumni, Anders Kass returned for a second term with the team! Anders is the Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Promotion VISTA with the Public Health Foundation of Columbia County in St. Helens. Prior to taking on this role, Anders served as a VISTA with Linn County where he focused on community preparedness in disasters. With a degree in psychology from Linfield College and a desire to pursue youth advocacy and social systems change, Anders hopes to build more connections within the behavioral health field during his VISTA year. Outside of work, Anders has been told that he is an excellent baker!

Angelique Colley is serving in Hillsboro as the Women, Infants, and Children Outreach VISTA with the Washington County WIC program. Angelique is familiar with nutrition and food systems as she previously interned at the Oregon Food Bank where she taught nutrition education and cooking classes to low income families. She majored in international studies at the University of Oregon and minored in city planning, public policy, and management as well as Spanish! Angelique hopes to use these skills in the Peace Corps someday and to also complete a graduate program in city planning with a focus on public health. Having grown up on the Oregon coast in Seaside, Angelique loves surfing, but is also terrified of sharks. She has memorized every shark attack off the Oregon Coast since 1974! 

Azalea Thomson returns to her hometown of Portland to serve as the Statewide WIC Community Engagement Specialist VISTA with the Oregon Health Authority Nutrition & Health Screening Program! Azalea was a global health major at Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University, and had the opportunity to study in Geneva, Switzerland. While there, she conducted research in partnerships and sustainable development. She also has worked abroad in Nicaragua and Uganda! Azalea hopes to pursue a master’s degree and ultimately has goals to work at the intersection of policy and advocacy in public health. One thing that Azalea loves to do is travel and learn new languages. She hopes to live abroad someday!

Originally from Delray Beach, Florida, Carissa Longo relocated to Salem to serve as the Family Behavioral Health VISTA with the Oregon Health Authority Health Systems Division. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami and studied philosophy as a pre-medical student with hopes to attend medical school and become a trauma surgeon. Prior to moving to Oregon, Carissa worked as an intramural supervisor for four years and volunteered with the Camillus House to help provide opportunity for the homeless community in Miami-Dade County. Something unique about Carissa is that she can snap her fingers with her pinkies! 

Courtney Barks joins the team from St. Louis, Missouri to serve with the Jefferson County Health Department where she will serve on accreditation and health equity-related projects. Prior to moving out west, Courtney attended Saint Louis University and volunteered at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She also has experience conducting research with toxoplasma gondii and Malaria drug selection research. In the future, Courtney hopes to continue her education and go to physician assistant school! While in college, Courtney competed as a Division 1 pole vaulter! 

As an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps FEMA Corps alumna, Courtney DuMond returns to her home state to serve at the Waterfall Community Health Center in North Bend, focusing on social determinants of health. Courtney is originally from Dallas, Oregon and went to George Fox University where she studied biology. One of her favorite experiences from college was serving with the James Project, a group that spent Saturday mornings working with nonprofits in the community. Before pursuing further education, Courtney wants to learn more about public health through travel, adventure, and service. She is very passionate about holistic health and enjoys Olympic lifting in her spare time! 

Relocating from Houston, Texas, Deanna Nelson joins the team as the Youth Communications VISTA with the Oregon Health Authority Adolescent & School Health Program. Deanna recently graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a degree in anthropology and psychology, but also studied economics and public health. While at Case Western, she worked as a computer tech support and was a member of the campus group Advocates for Cleveland Health. Deanna plans to return to school and earn a MPH and MBA with eventual plans to pursue a career in public health or health administration. An impressive fact about Deanna is that when she was in high school, she sang with her choir at Carnegie Hall! 

Drew Docter returns to serve his second year with Deschutes County Health Services in Bend, though he is originally from Madison, Wisconsin. Drew attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he studied microbiology and global health and had the opportunity to travel throughout Nepal and learn about the country’s rural healthcare system. With his education and experience with AmeriCorps VISTA, Drew is determined to combine his passions for science and health promotion in underserved communities. One thing you may be surprised to learn about Drew is that he grew up helping his dad raise Christmas trees on his family farm in the Wisconsin countryside!

Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Graciela Ferderer will serve with the Coalition of Community Health Clinics in Portland focusing on health access and engagement. After earning her bachelor’s degree from Lewis & Clark College, Graciela hopes to gain experience working in public health and eventually pursue a MPH focusing on epidemiology. Prior to serving as a VISTA, she has worked as a Bike Camp Instructor with the Community Cycling Center in Portland and with the Velazquez-Ulloa lab assisting with genotoxicology research. In her free time, Graciela loves making salsa and hot sauce from scratch! 

Moving across the United States, India Neville joins us from Washington, D.C. to serve as a VISTA with Yamhill County Public Health focusing on the CHIP, reaccreditation and opioid prevention. India earned a degree in public health from American University and hopes to get her MPH someday! While in school, India provided her talents to the Latin American Youth Center with the sexual health outreach program and Martha’s Table, a community center in downtown D.C. When India was in high school, she pole-vaulted competitively and met her best friend doing it!  

An Oregon native, Jonathan Torres is serving in Newport with Lincoln County Public Health as the Health Equity VISTA. Jonathan recently completed a summer associate position with Campus Compact’s AmeriCorps VISTA program serving with the 9th Grade Counts program at David Douglas High School. Jonathan has participated in many public health opportunities over the past year: volunteering with Prism Health, the Cascade Aids Project, and OHSU, as well as working in a neurobiology lab at his alma mater Lewis & Clark College.  He hopes to pursue a master’s degree in public health with a focus on epidemiology. One interesting fact about Jonathan is that he has swam competitively for twelve years, including at the collegiate level! 

Katie Walsh is the Reaccreditation and Outreach VISTA with Crook County Health Department in Prineville. Originally from Salem, Oregon, Katie is excited to bring her talents back to Oregon. Before joining the OHA VISTA Team, Katie worked as a medical records technician overseas in a military hospital and volunteered at the Misawa Air Force Base hospital in Japan. She is currently working towards her MPH and sees herself working in public health emergency management, health promotion research, or disease prevention. Although she is an Oregon native, Katie has spent the past four years working and traveling the globe – she has been to Australia, Italy, England, Germany, Japan, and Thailand! 

Joining the team for her second year, Laura LaLonde will serve in the Oregon Health Authority Injury & Violence Prevention Program as the Opioid Data Collection VISTA. Last year, she served as the Tobacco Control and Prevention VISTA with Multnomah County where she conducted community outreach. Laura has her MPH in health management and policy from Portland State University, but hopes to go to veterinary school some day! She is a true animal lover and currently volunteers with the Oregon Humane Society and the Pixie Project. Laura has two cats - and you can find them on Instagram! 

Liz Stankov is relocating from Ann Arbor, Michigan to serve at Lake Health District in Lakeview with a focus on opioid abuse prevention. With a degree in psychology and minors in urban studies and “Community Action and Social Change” from the University of Michigan, Liz has experience working with immigrants and refugees seeking asylum, adults experiencing developmental disabilities, and for a county Adult Drug Court program. After serving with AmeriCorps VISTA, she hopes to complete a Masters of Social Work degree and become a licensed social worker specializing in mental health and addiction treatment. When she’s not in the office, Liz loves being outdoors and camping. She loves the smell of campfires! 

Maiya McNaughton joins the OHA AmeriCorps VISTA Partnership Project all the way from Colchester, Connecticut. Equipped with a degree in International Studies and Human Services, Maiya will serve at Coos Health and Wellness as the Maternal and Child Health Promotion VISTA in Coos Bay. She has previously lent her talents to the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut where she fundraised and attended the weekly Mobile Food Pantries and Health Quarters, where she assisted in the creation of a social enterprise and clinic remodel! While in school, Maiya studied abroad down under in Australia and had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand and Bali! 

Hailing most recently from Klamath Falls, Michael Burton is relocating to Coos Bay to serve with Coos Health and Wellness, focusing on emergency preparedness. Michael recently graduated with a degree in communication studies and population health management from Oregon Tech, where he gained experience working with youth at the local YMCA and elementary school. After serving as a VISTA, Michael hopes to pursue law and potentially join the FBI. Something unique about Michael is that he has lived in three different countries across two different continents! 

Savanna Santarpio is joining the team from Boston, Massachusetts as the Oregon Health Authority Injury & Violence Prevention Program Opioid Risk Reduction & Education Outreach VISTA. Savanna earned her MPH at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University where she had the opportunity to develop a workforce training program with the director of the MPH program. With her education and experience, she developed skills in literature review, survey development, and data analysis. Savanna is eager to join the workforce and hopes to apply these skills at a government agency in effort to address health disparities burdening the United States. Back in Boston, Savanna belongs to the 5th generation of a family-owned pizza restaurant, which was established in 1903!

Shelby Sweet is originally from Gilbert, Arizona but has found a second home in McMinnville where she will be serving as the Program Development & Outreach VISTA with the Student Nutrition and Activity Clinic for Kids (SNACK) program. She studied mass communications and religious studies at Linfield College, where she was a student ambassador and student coordinator for a pre-orientation program focused on service-learning and leadership. Eventually, Shelby wants to go to graduate school to study public relations or media studies. When Shelby studied abroad in England, she hosted a radio show! 

Tammy Yamamoto is joining the team for her second term at Washington County Public Health as the Emergency Preparedness At-Risk Populations VISTA in Hillsboro. Prior to joining the OHA AmeriCorps VISTA Partnership Project, Tammy served with the Portland American Red Cross as the Preparedness Coordinator for 7 counties in an AmeriCorps State/National position. She is passionate about preparedness community education and hopes to provide the public the information they need to be resilient and successful. Tammy is always looking for new thrills – she has been skydiving and hopes to bungee jump someday! 

Zach Wells returns as the Opioid Safety VISTA with Multnomah County Health Department. Zach first joined the OHA VISTA Team in January in this position after working as the Outreach Coordinator for the Central Illinois Pride Health Center. Prior to serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA, Zach attended the University of California – San Diego and studied public health and critical gender studies. He hopes to continue his education and get an MPH to work in harm reduction research and project management. Zach has the unique experience of spending a month hiking and traveling around the lower Himalayas in Northern India, and the only footwear he had were flip-flops!

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