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Community Council

The Community Council advises Portland Children’s Levy staff and the Allocation Committee on Levy policies and procedures, including community engagement and potential future funding rounds. It is composed of 11-13 members, who are approved by the Allocation Committee. The council was created in 2022, operates under a set of bylaws and is working through a three-year plan.

Meetings are open to the public, and notices are sent to our email list prior to meetings and posted on the PCL website. You can  to stay in the loop about the Community Council, funding opportunities and other updates. 

Learn more about the City of Portland’s advisory bodies.

Alejandra Favela

Alejandra Favela is an education professor and former bilingual elementary school teacher who has spent the last 25 years teaching and advocating for underserved children and families. She currently teaches at Lewis & Clark College and was previously director of the English for Speakers of Other Languages program there. “I believe that our best investment for the future is in supporting children and families,” Alejandra writes. She is fluent in Spanish and is very fortunate to be a dual U.S./Mexico citizen. After living in many different places, she finally found home in Portland. She treasures the rich cultural diversity and natural beauty of Oregon.

Alix Sanchez

Alix works to build collaboration across the continuum of services for domestic and sexual violence survivors in Multnomah County, with a focus on providing funding for survivors from historically marginalized communities. He previously managed the Child and Family Services programs at the Native American Youth and Family Center and served as the executive director of the Oregon Community Health Workers Association. Alix previously served on PCL’s Small Grants Design Team. He is Two Spirit and a member of the Little Shell band of Ojibwe. “I believe that the community served is the expert in their own needs and they have deep insight into how to meet those needs and thrive,” he writes. Alix is the parent of two children (ages 10 and 4). In his non-work time, Alix is a published poet and active in local community theater.

Amarachi Duru

Amarachi is deeply engaged in program management and grant writing, with an emphasis on promoting projects centered on health equity and youth empowerment. Amarachi is a Nigerian-American native of Portland and has dedicated her career to the upliftment of underserved, marginalized communities. She previously served as a youth program lead and advocate at a community-based organization in Portland, with a focus on supporting African immigrants and refugee youth, and assisted African/Afro-Caribbean immigrants and refugees, LGBTQIA+ people and Spanish-speaking immigrants. “I am thrilled to contribute to this advisory board because my passion lies in empowering the youth in our communities,” Amarachi writes. “The ongoing work of advocating for health equity within the African immigrant and refugee community is ceaseless and crucial to not simply our survival, but us flourishing.” During her free time, she likes to spend time with her loved ones, stay active and read Black contemporary literature.

Cathie Pedersen

Cathie brings professional experience in grantmaking, program development and budgeting. She currently oversees grant-funded projects and manages the life cycle of grants and contracts for a local university. She previously served as a grant reviewer for Metro and worked with American Indian and Native Hawaiians in carrying out public health projects in their communities. She has first-hand experience helping a family member with a disability navigate the public school system. “I strongly believe that it’s important to support children to thrive in and out of school, which includes breaking down barriers, increasing opportunities, and improving food security,” Cathie writes. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, hanging out with her partner and adult triplets, and traveling.

Deian Salazar

Deian serves on the Oregon Commission on Autism and is co-chair of the Social Services and Adult Supports Subcommittee. He is involved with the Multnomah County Democratic Party and previously with Participatory Budgeting Oregon. Deian has autism and ADHD, is Latino and has Pueblo and Jewish roots. He is especially interested in youth education and loves learning from others. “I have elevated young, diverse youth as much as I can,” Deian writes. He views education as the bedrock of economic opportunity. Deian is laser-focused on a good balance between performance, efficiency and looking at things holistically.

photo of Jacob Valentine, Community Council member

Jacob Valentine

Jacob Valentine, born in Hawaii and raised in Hilo, learned the importance of community and love through food from his mother and grandmother. Inspired by his grandmother’s culinary skills, he developed a passion for cooking. After moving to Oregon at 11, he continued using food to connect with others. Jacob pursued business and culinary arts education, eventually becoming a youth leader in a local church. Realizing the lack of food education in his community, he founded the nonprofit Feed the Mass to teach cooking and promote unity. When the pandemic hit, he started providing free meals to those in need, sparking the successful FED Program. Despite financial challenges, the community’s support allowed the organization to thrive, relaunching cooking classes online. Jacob’s journey reminds us of food’s power to educate, empower and bring people together.

Jami K. LeBaron

Jami works as the program director at the nonprofit Leach Botanical Garden, creating educational and environmental community programming and partnerships. She graduated from Portland State University with a B.S. in community development and special interests in environmental studies. Outside of work, Jami is involved in the ceramics community and is part of the Oregon Potters Association. She has previously been a small business owner and worked as a summer camp counselor, leading rock climbing and high-ropes challenge courses for youth. “Community is the driver for better mental, physical and psychological outcomes in life,” Jami writes. She lives in Northeast Portland with her family and their dogs, cat, goats and chickens.

Kamla Hurst

Kamla is the waste prevention grants program manager at Metro. She is honored to contribute her experiences in philanthropy, facilitation and community engagement to advance the Levy’s incredible mission. Kamla is a mom to two Japanese American boys and has served on the Parent Teacher Association’s equity group at Richmond Elementary School. “I am excited about the opportunity to dismantle systems that oppress kids of color and other disadvantaged community members in order to create a more flourishing region for everyone,” Kamla writes.

Karina Bjork

Karina Bjork is a communications professor at Portland Community College’s Southeast campus. She also works on the college’s Pathways to Student Success and YESS (Yes to Equitable Student Success) committees and programs to ensure all students can succeed in their educational goals. “Being a part of this advisory body would mean that I get to be a part of giving future generations a pathway I didn’t have, a pathway that makes the road to their success a little bit easier than mine,” Karina writes. Outside of academia, Karina is working to expand research in racial and cultural representation in education literature and in the field. “Representation is one of the first steps in showing students of different backgrounds, races and cultures that they can achieve the goals they set for themselves.”

LaNae Johnson

LaNae is passionate about positively impacting the lives of people of all ages through philanthropy and community programs. LaNae recently relocated to Portland after working with nonprofit organizations advancing student and community outcomes in Los Angeles County. With more than a decade of experience working with multicultural and multigenerational communities, she most recently oversaw a charter high school providing 16 to 24 year old students with opportunities to earn their high school diploma and receive workforce training. LaNae is looking forward to serving on the Levy community council to increase access and opportunity for Portland’s youth and families.

Lisa Wittorff

Lisa is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice as a therapist, focusing on families and children. She finds joy in supporting parents of kids who are neurodivergent and folks of all ages who identify as queer, trans, nonbinary, or are exploring their sexual and gender identities. She worked for Child Protective Services for 22 years in Sacramento, including 12 years working with foster children being placed for adoption. Lisa, a single parent by choice, adopted 3 Black children with special needs from foster care. Her children are all now young adults, giving her the ability to volunteer for public service. After moving to Portland from Sacramento in 2011, she served as the director of services for students with children at Portland State University, which gave her a close look at the struggles parents have in Portland. “I hope to bring my expertise to be a part of positive change for children and families in Portland,” Lisa writes.

Lolita Broadous

Lolita is a supervisor of SUN Community Schools for Portland Parks & Recreation and also oversees the Teen Collaborative Grants. After a brief stint as a classroom teacher, Lolita found that she was more passionate about addressing the barriers and issues that students faced outside of the classroom and wanted to become an advocate for those students. Lolita had a chance to do that during her work at Multnomah County, where she was a part of the prenatal through third grade early learning engagement program, with a focus on reaching and connecting communities of color and underrepresented communities to early learning opportunities. She has a master’s degree in early learning education. Lolita is a Black woman and a new grandmother. “I have been a single mom and involved with multiple systems,” Lolita writes. “I understand how social and educational services can be helpful and how those same systems can be detrimental to families.”

Stephen Pham

Stephen leads operations, finance, culture, and diversity, equity, and inclusion work at a national education nonprofit. He previously worked as a 5th grade math and science teacher and also led instructional innovation for a national education management organization focused on providing an equitable education to students furthest from opportunity. Stephen identifies as a queer, second-generation Vietnamese American. “I hope to bring my personal and professional perspectives and partner with the community to help achieve the goals of the levy in an equitable and responsive way,” Stephen writes. Raised in Southern California, Stephen holds a Bachelor of Science degree from UCLA and looks forward to developing deeper roots as a newer Oregonian.