Kelley Weigel, Executive Director
Kelley Weigel brings a passion for justice to her decades of community organizing – a plus when looking at her resume of front line efforts to fight the right in the Pacific Northwest. Kelley started with the Center in 2002 and has been instrumental in the Center’s multi-issue approach to working for social justice. Organizations credit the Center’s support in advancing their own wins and successes for racial and gender justice.
She is a graduate of the Center’s first intensive leadership program, the Western Institute for Leadership Development. WILD clinched Kelley’s commitment to organizing. She developed skills with Community Alliance of Lane County and then the Rural Organizing Project. Kelley also has worked on ballot measure campaigns proactive and defensive.
Kelley is a lifelong learner and that keeps her feeling fresh in this work. Having a seven year old son also keeps her on her toes.
- Superhero power to fight social injustice? The power to have individuals recognize that small and incremental change is just as powerful as splashy media moments.
Phone: (503) 893-3812
Yee Won Chong, Development & Communication Director
Yee Won joined the Center in 2008 and has since quadrupled the number of donors by using new methodologies, changing the internal organizational culture and revamping the communication strategies at the Center. Yee Won translates these direct experiences into trainings and workshops to help grassroots organizations in various ways including storytelling, using new technology and fundraising as relationship building. In 2012 Yee Won delivered a talk at TEDx Rainier in Seattle about growing up in Malaysia, being an immigrant and transgender.
Before moving to the Northwest, Yee Won was the Development Specialist of United for a Fair Economy and Development Director of Haymarket People's Fund. Yee Won is currently on the board of directors for GIFT (Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training).
- Superhero power to fight social injustice? I have always wanted “killer eyes” like Cyclops of X-men, but instead of damaging things with my optic blast I would look into people’s eyes and convince them not to be meanies.
Phone: (503) 893-3811
Nancy Haque, Building Political Power Director
Nancy joined the Center in 2007 and as the Director of the VOTE project, she has had the great pleasure of seeing organizations move and grow so that they can win incredible policy victories. She also manages the Oregon Racial Equity Report Card and the Leadership Development programs AMP and WILD.
Prior to joining the Center, Nancy worked as the Western Region Field Organizer for National Jobs with
Justice, based out of Washington, DC. She also worked at the Working Women’s department of the AFL-CIO and for several years as an organizer for Portland Jobs with Justice.
Born and raised in Washington, DC and the surrounding suburbs, Nancy first fell in love with the Pacific Northwest as a student at the Evergreen State College where she studied political economy and social change. She also earned a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has been an activist since high school, fighting for workers’ rights and economic justice at home and around the world.
In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, baking, crafting and staring at Mt. Hood. She is also on the board of directors of Basic Rights Oregon and volunteers many hours bringing healthy affordable food into her community with Village Gardens.
- Superhero power to fight social injustice? My superpower would be being able to move people to action because if enough people are moved to act toward justice, we can fight all social injustice.
Phone: (503) 893-3805
Cynthia Lin, Trainer & Organizer
Cynthia gained her organizing experience in the eight years she lived in Madison, Wisconsin, prior to moving to Portland. She worked with Freedom Inc., an anti-violence and youth organizing group and Operations Welcome Home, a volunteer organizing collective that struggles against homelessness and the criminilization of poverty. She was a social justice educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Multicultural Student Center and is the co-founder of the Institute for Justice Education and Transformation. Cynthia has consulted with several grassroots groups, mostly in Wisconsin, on leadership development, evaluation and participatory action research.
Cynthia has a joint Master's degree in Environmental Studies and Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently working on a PhD in Civil Society and Community Research also at UW-Maddison. She has a background in environmental engineering and found her entre into social justice work through environmental justice and anti-globalization struggles.
-Superhero power to fight social injustice? I would want to be able to knock my head against a brick ceiling like Super Mario and access abundant sources of sustainable social justice funding.
Phone: (503) 893-3810
Jen Lleras, Trainer & Organizer
Jen joined the Center in April 2012 as the Trainer & Organizer. Jen attributes a great deal of her leadership and organizing skills to Western States Center.
Before joining Western States Center, Jen worked at Basic Rights Oregon as the Project Coordinator on collaboration with unions. This project, the first of its kind in the nation, worked to build community understanding and support among unions and the LGBTQ community and to increase leadership skills of LGBT union members.
Prior to BRO, Jen was the Organizing Director at the Oregon Student Association, where she led campaigns to ensure students receive affordable and accessible college education. Jen graduated from the University of Oregon with double major in Ethnic Studies and Spanish.
- Superhero power to fight social injustice? The ability to communicate in any language. I don’t want language barriers to hinder my ability to organize communities.
Phone: (503) 893-3809
Steve Mayes, Operations and Finance Manager
As the Operations and Finance Manager, Steve has been able to help the Center cut costs and implement new accounting systems that streamline our financial reporting work.
Steve joined the Center in 2010. Prior to coming to the Center, Steve was the Financial and Administrative Manager for Oregon Action a state-wide organization dedicated to building new leaders from underrepresented community members. In 2003, he began to focus on organizations devoted to social and economic change. Steve has assisted large and small businesses with fiscal management, technology, high level management and board consulting. He has served as treasurer on several nonprofit boards and currently volunteers for the local performing arts theaters.
In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, relaxing in a mountain cabin, hiking trails and cycling. You can always find him at the Alpenrose Velodrome enjoying cycling events put on by the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association.
- Theme song while fighting social injustice? Public Enemy's “Fight the Power” because the song is completely damning the systems of overt power, it’s also a statement of intent of wiping the social injustice slate clean, not only for black people but for all people.
Phone: (503) 893-3807
Rosa Yadira Ortiz, Development and Communication Manager
Rosa joined the Center in September 2012 as the Development and Communications Manager. Prior to moving to Portland, she was based in Chicago working as the Midwest Community Educator of Lambda Legal. As an active leader in the Chicago LGBTQ community, she served on the board member of Amigas Latinas from 2007 to 2012 and was part of the organizing collective for Dyke March Chicago from 2003 to 2008. She was honored as a “30 under 30” honoree by Windy City Times in 2003. Most recently, Rosa was part of the founding cohort of the Advocacy Academy of Chicago Foundation for Women to strengthen and build relationship among Chicago’s leading female advocates for social justice.
Rosa’s family includes her partner, Sullivan, and their dog, Lola. She also has a strong and loving circle of given and chosen family who inspire her. Rosa is a proud godmother and aunt to three beautiful girls.
Rosa has a Master’s in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University with an emphasis on race, gender and sexuality and a Bachelor’s degree in Latin American and Latina/o Studies with a double major in Spanish from DePaul University.
- Superhero power to fight social injustice? Teleport. If we can reunite with those who inspire us, who challenge and nurture us, we can continue with the necessary work with passion and ganas (energy).
Nolan Pleše, Development and Communication Intern
Nolan joined the Center as an intern in November 2013, after being inspired by the Center’s work on equity issues.
Prior to joining the Center, Nolan had worked on numerous political campaigns. His first was in 2008 with the Obama campaign. In 2010, he interned for former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury’s campaign for governor. While working on his undergraduate studies he volunteered for former Congressman David Wu’s campaign in 2010, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici’s special election campaign, former Rep. Jefferson Smith’s campaign for mayor, and numerous campaigns and ballot initiatives through the Oregon Bus Project.
Nolan graduated from Portland State University with a BA in Political Science in 2012. Nolan spends his free time with his friends, family and girlfriend, exploring all Portland and the Pacific Northwest has to offer. He enjoys any excuse to get outside, even in the rain. In his spare time, Nolan has been taking survival skills classes with Trackers PDX.
- Theme song while fighting social injustice? Michael Franti’s “I Know I’m Not Alone” because even when things seem impossible or difficult to achieve, I know I will never be alone in the fight for equality for all people.Phone: 503-893-3816
Aimee Santos-Lyons, Gender Justice Director
Aimee joined the Center in 2007 and has since helped many grassroots groups to understand and claim their voices in public decision-making. As the Project Manager for Strong Families Northwest, Aimee is working with organizations in Washington to re-frame how to define a family to be more inclusive. In 2011, Aimee has helped Idaho's Women of Color Alliance to push through a bill prohibiting female prisoners from being shackled during childbirth. Aimee is also a superstar fundraiser and brought in the most donors during the Center's first online campaign.
Aimee brings 12 years of both U.S. and international experience in both social development and humanitarian concerns, with a special emphasis on gender equity, reproductive health and gender-based violence.
Educated in the U.S. and the Philippines, Aimee holds a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University. She comes from a large family and has three kids.
- Superhero power to fight social injustice? Read minds like Marvel girl, Phoenix.
Phone: (503) 893-3803