Are you an Emerge Alumna? Do we have bad or outdated information about you? Please, let us know and we'd be happy to update your profile!

In my line of work people search for the right resources and support to challenge their business to new and innovative approaches. Equally, I have been searching for months for an organization that will provide the right resources and support to challenge myself to run for office. Emerge Oregon is that organization! Bringing innovation back to Oregon, supporting small businesses to thrive, and empowering women and persons with disabilities to achieve success is my platform for change.

Co-founder, Family Forward Oregon

A social worker turned community activist, Andrea Paluso is an advocate for systemic changes that will create a more equitable and sustainable future for all Oregon's families.
As the co-founder of Family Forward Oregon, a nonprofit organization working to build a family-friendly economy, Andrea has engaged families to speak out on issues as varied as paid family leave, child care quality and affordability, health care reform, outdated employment policies, and economic inequities for mothers.
Andrea's additional work experience includes working in community health clinics and direct-service se

Tiffany was born & raised in Oregon and has lived most of her life in Salem. She is deeply committed to making Oregon better for all.
Upon completion of her thesis, she will have a master’s in Political Science from Portland State Univserity. She has worked for U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and the Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign efforts in 2014.

Sunny is a dedicated community advocate. She was a member of Emerge Oregon's first class of women. She looked to Emerge to develop the skills and relationships necessary to be a stronger advocate on issues important to Oregonians. Her priorities include better health care access for the uninsured, as well as stable and appropriate funding for public schools and universities. Currently, Sunny leads Portland State University's Center for Women's Leadership as Executive Director.

Whether serving as an AmeriCorps volunteer, public school educator, board member, mentor or community advocate, Roberta Phillip-Robbin's commitment to public service has been clear and at the forefront.
Recognized as a distinguished graduate by the faculty at Lewis & Clark Law School, Roberta has received several awards and scholarships for contributions to her community while a student.

Dr. Huma Pierce is fiercely committed to guiding Oregonians towards health care equality for all. Fluent in several languages including English, French, Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi, Huma attended the University of Toronto for Biology with a Minor in Near/ Far Eastern Religion.

Kellie Pierson is a native Oregonian with a unique perspective.  Born and raised in the beautiful Mt Hood Corridor, Kellie’s family owned and operated many small businesses from Government Camp to Gresham to Hood River. Married for 25 years, Kellie and her husband have two grown children; a daughter in college and a son in medical school.

I'm thrilled to participate in this program! I appreciate all the hard work of Oregon's public servants, and I'm sure Emerge Oregon's success will further our government's successes. I'm looking forward to really digging in and moving forward on important issues such as health care, alternative energy resources, and social justice issues, at the state and local level. We're moving into a new and inspired era of public leadership, and I hope I can be a part of it.

Having lived internationally and across the country, Leesha considers Oregon home.

Milwaukie City Council

Karin grew up in a small town in New Jersey and graduated from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. She attributes much of her initial leadership development to her fellow women’s college classmates, many of whom hailed from all over the country and world. Karin moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2005 and attended Lewis & Clark Law School. After serving as her neighborhood association chair and chair of the local wastewater plant's good neighbor committee, Karin was elected to Milwaukie City Council in 2014 and continues to serve her community in this role.

Terri has been passionate about advocacy and civic engagement for close to 20 years.
In Portland since 1998, she began volunteering at farmer’s markets and local ivy pulls before joining the Tryon Creek Watershed Council, where she built the organization from an all-volunteer group to a 501(c)3 non-profit with paid staff. 
Terri is currently in her second publicly-elected term as zone 5 director and chair on the West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District.

Guiza Ramirez is committed to promoting equality in education and advocating for children and families in the community. She has been an activist for 15 years. First in California, where she worked as a Parent and Child Group Facilitator and Program Coordinator for West Ed, Educational and Community Initiatives. Then she served as a Case Work Specialist for the Orange County Child Abuse Prevention Center.
Guiza continues to empower children and families through her work as an elementary school educator in Portland Public Schools.

Charese Rohny is a proud mother, wife, and attorney.  She advocates for civil justice and individual’s rights.  She has faith in people, the power of conversation, and compromise but is committed to standing up to injustices and holds the conviction that “sooner or later one has to take sides if one is to remain human.”  As an attorney for nearly 20 years, she has helped people from all walks of life who are in crisis to move toward resolution, solve injustice and to protect values of equality and fairness.

As a native Oregonian, Linda is committed to social justice with a particular focus on the health and well being of emerging communities. In her current role at the Oregon Latino Health Coalition, she works to ensure public policy results in better health outcomes through the engagement of Latino community members in the legislative process. Linda is proud of her work to see that all women have access to prenatal care and aspires to see that health care is patient centered, affordable and accessible to all Oregonians. 

Shelli's professional experience combines public, government and community relations, project, program and people management and oversight and public policy work. She has worked for the federal, state, city and county levels of government and has served on the staff for three elected officials and worked for two non-profit organizations.
Shelli currently works for the Oregon Department of Transportation, Region 1 as the Area Manager- West.  She has 6 direct reports which include project leaders and construction project managers and 40 indirect reports.

Emerge Oregon is actively creating a more honest and fair representation of society within the political system. I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in Emerge Oregon. I have known for years I would be politically active. I feel it is my duty to serve society and with the assistance of Emerge I know I can be a more effective leader in the state of Oregon.

Mollie Ruskin is a designer and founding member of the United States Digital Service at the White House, where she worked to improve the government’s ability to deliver beautiful, human and easy-to-use services for the American people.
Mollie started her work in federal government as a Presidential Innovation Fellow at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, leading a human-centered design project to improve Veterans’ experiences with VA services.

As steward over the 14 historic cemeteries in the Portland-metro area, Emma has spent her time at Metro both caring for families that are hurting and caring for this unique part of Oregon’s history. Emma now has her own young family and is dedicated to keeping Oregonians safe, educated and employed. She is also deeply committed to working closely with local leaders to educate, preserve and honor those who came before us and those who will come after. Emma grew up in Florida and moved to Oregon in 2008.

Legislative Director, Oregon Environmental Council

Andrea Salinas started her public service career on Capitol Hill where she served as a legislative aide in both the House of Representatives and Senate as a legislative aide working on defense, tax, trade, budget and labor issues for eight years.

The first college graduate in her family, Consuelo Saragoza knows firsthand the advantages that only education can provide. In her early professional career as a teacher and advocate for families and children, Consuelo cemented her ongoing commitment to see that other young people are afforded the same educational opportunities she experienced. Currently a public health professional, Consuelo recognizes that the connection between health and education is inseparable.

Sierra lives with her family in a drafty old farmhouse on the Oregon Coast, and is an active member of her rural community. When she isn’t chasing small children and animals, Sierra serves on the Tillamook County Planning Commission and as a board member for several local non-profits. Sierra is fascinated with the process of governance, and looking forward to expanding her involvement.

Natalie is a sixth generation Oregonian, having returned to Portland after several years to be closer to her family. While she studied international relations and politics she has always been drawn to art. In 2002, she graduated from Guilord College in Greensboro, North Carolina with a Bachelors of Fine Art in Painting. Immediately after school she accepted a job teaching art in Chicago. During her time in Illinois, she felt the stirring of political activism during the Obama campaign, and became heavily involved as a volunteer.

Ebony Sloan-Clarke began her career as an advisor for Mothers Against Gang Violence. After receiving her Masters in Social Work from Portland State University, she joined LifeWorks NW as a child and family therapist in their Leo Ni Leo program. She then spent several years in various management positions at the Juvenile Justice Center in Philadelphia, including a year as Behavioral Health Clinical Director. Ebony returned to LifeWorks NW in early 2008 as Culturally Specific Addictions Services Director.

Legislative Assistant, Oregon State Senator Steiner Hayward

Rachel has always desired a life of public service. She moved to Washington, D.C., as quickly as she could after college, to work on healthcare, housing, and education issues at the federal level.
Now back in the Pacific Northwest, Rachel serves as a prosecutor in Washington County where she is the Deputy District Attorney for domestic violence and stalking cases. She is active within the legislative committee of the Oregon District Attorney’s Association and has raised funds to support the Domestic Violence Resource Center.
Rachel earned her B.A. from the College of William & Mary, M.P.P.

Legislative Director, Co-Speaker of the House Roblan

Christy Splitt is the Legislative Director to Co-Speaker of the House Arnie Roblan (D- Coos Bay). She grew up in Chicago and Northern California before graduating from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in History. She then earned her Master’s degree in Education and became a high school civics teacher.
After three years in the classroom, she decided to experience civics first hand by working in Oregon politics. After getting her start at the Bus Project, Christy served as chief legislative aide to State Rep.

Samaura Stone grew up listening to her mother tell haunting stories about the Civil Rights Movement. Sparking her curiosity about justice and equality early on, Samaura realized that it would take many more strong, impassioned leaders to continue the fight for these critical rights.
A recent college graduate, Samaura majored in Social and Behavioral Studies. Currently a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for children in Multnomah County, she is also interning as a Program Assistant for the YWCA's CASA program in Vancouver, Washington.

Evangelina Sundgrenz is a multilingual marketing and communications professional, managing message development on behalf of business and organizations across the Pacific Northwest. Additionally, she has managed programs in education, arts, and advocated to expand childcare subsidy programs in California. Evangelina is a passionate advocate for equity, public education, and social change. She also serves on the Eugene 4J School District budget committee and Basic Rights Oregon Equity PAC.

Eugene City Councilor

Eugene City Councilor Claire Syrett has been an active community member and social justice advocate since moving to Oregon over 20 years ago. A dedicated labor union activist, Claire is employed by the Oregon Nurses Association serving as a labor relations representative assigned to Coos Bay/North Bend. Before joining ONA, Claire served for two years as the executive director of the Lane Coalition for Healthy Active Youth a non-profit working to combat childhood obesity through advocacy and action.

Jenni is a West Linn City Councilor. She was first elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2012. She currently serves on the leadership team for the West Linn Rotary Club, and has enjoyed serving on the Board of Directors for Clackamas Women’s Services and Providence Milwaukie Foundation for over three years. Jenni also is a certified public accountant (CPA) and attended undergraduate school at UCLA and then Northwestern University where she earned her MBA. She and her husband, Dennis, are the proud parent of two children, Summer and AJ.

Put Yourself On The Ballot

Learn about the Emerge program and how to apply:

Support Our Work

Emerge Oregon needs your help to expand our training.