The impact of our program is made possible by the inexorable dedication of our 70+ volunteer mentors who partner with our youth, their parents, committed donors, Board members, and community partners.
Our small but mighty staff provide the backbone support for our mentors and youth.
Curtis Young, Interim Executive Director, he/him/his
Curtis holds a BA in Psychology and an MA in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. He has 20 years of experience in mission-based organizations including 12 years in administrative leadership. Curtis has served as an Executive Director for almost a decade and has championed Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives for board, staff and participants in the organization he’s led with an emphasis on BIPOC, low-income and rural populations. Curtis has spearheaded efforts to develop community-based programs at low-income, multi-generational housing developments and accessible summer programming across the Greater Portland Metroplex. Curtis has additionally been involved with Family of Friends Mentoring for over 3 years and has been a long-time supporter of the organization. He is excited to lead Family of Friends into furthered success and growth during transition and moving forward.
Monica Segura, Bilingual Program Coordinator, she/her/hers
Monica joined Family of Friends in fall of 2017 and is the primary support person for the program’s Spanish-speaking matches in Gresham. She has a passion for working with youth, volunteers and families and is excited to work for Family of Friends. She has lived in Oregon for 17 years and is studying Psychology at Oregon State university where her focus is social psychology and women’s studies. Monica’s hobbies include reading, attending concerts, and running (she ran her first half marathon this year and plans on many more!).
Bianca Gonzalez , Community Engagement Manager, (she/her they/them)
Bianca knows all too well the importance of having a guiding light during some of the most integral and vulnerable times of childhood. Although she didn’t herself have a mentor until later in life, it was school teachers and non- familial stable adult figures growing up that kept her from getting lost amidst some of those darker days. Ultimately, a mentorship would have done wonders at an early age, fortunately, however that opportunity came later in her 20s- a teacher directed Bianca to use her passions for social justice, communal and personal healing to therefore translate that into her life’s work. Bianca was drawn to Family Of Friends because she has seen how important a solid adult figure can be in providing guidance in the right direction. This is especially true for BIPOC and Queer youth, and as Queer identifying- she recognizes the unique need for a focus to make QBIPOC youth feel safe and empowered.
Outside of the Organization Bianca likes adventure, whether that be a fun drive through the mountains or hike somewhere new! She was born and raised in Colorado but is happy to call Oregon her new forever home.
Jennifer Jones is our Program Director with Family of Friends. Jennifer is excited to work with mentors and mentees to collectively impact our kids and families so all can flourish and thrive! Jennifer considers herself a connector with over 25 years working within various youth serving, non-profits organization and school systems in Michigan, Washington and now Oregon. Jennifer is deeply passionate about equity, youth development and leadership, and walking with people.
Board of Directors
Francisco Marquez, OnPoint Credit Union
Francisco came to Oregon from Juarez, Mexico when he was 13 years old. He understands the feelings of loss and isolation among young people when they face a completely new culture and customs. When he became a father at age 18, a mentoring program at Reynolds Learning Academy became a life line, and completely changed the course of his life. It introduced him to a community of other teen parents and mentors who became his village of support and helped him develop confidence as a parent and a love of the outdoors in Oregon.
He is now a financial advisor at Merrill where he is driven to help low-income families position themselves for a better future. He’s excited to be a part of family of Friends Mentoring and help pay forward the power of mentoring.
Lula Chaney, Native American Youth Association
Lula is a long time resident of Portland Oregon. Lula has a huge place in his heart for the youth of today. This is evident in the passion and drive he brings to his work. He is the founder of Intercity Sports Ministries (ISM); a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the legacy of Evelyn Collins (Miss Collins) the Mother Theresa of NE Portland. Lula is a passionate and avid advocate for youth and loves anything sports related, enjoys relaxing, listening to rap and R&B music, and appreciates traveling and day trips.
Lisa Elwood, Clackamas County Bank, Philanthropy Committee Chair
Lisa Elwood is a Sam Barlow High School graduate, who has resided in Gresham for 24 years with her husband of 28 years and their two grown kids. As a native Oregonian, Lisa and her family enjoys the Pacific NW outdoors by hiking, biking and camping. Lisa has over 30 years of experience in banking and is currently a Loan Servicing Officer for Clackamas County Bank where she works to connect non-profit organizations in the surrounding communities with bank services and provide resources to those organizations with volunteers and other support. Understanding the importance of mentors in one’s life, Lisa finds passion in giving back as a volunteer to help impact kids and other community members like the mentors that she has had in her personal and professional life. She strongly believes that every child and young adult needs a healthy role model in their lives to help build character, integrity and life skills to be a successful adult.
Renee McKechnie, OHSU, Board Chair
Renee is the Director of Digital Strategy for Oregon Health & Science University where she puts her Masters in Biomedical Informatics to good use by guiding strategy, infrastructure and user experience for OHSU’s websites. Through her career and volunteer work, she’s been involved with social service programs for more than 15 years. Renee is passionate about mentoring, and maintains a 6+ year relationship with her teenage mentee, Emily. As a native Oregonian, Renee enjoys gardening, skiing, and obsessing over the weather with her husband, Evan, and their dogs, Lucky and Rune.
Sandra Swartzendruber, Retired Banking Professional
Sandra first got involved with the program in 2016 when her husband Cloy started mentoring a 10 year old boy. She saw first hand the positive difference this program made in both their lives. Sandra has over 35 years of banking experience, most recently as Vice President of Commercial Loan Operations for US Bank. Unfortunately she has been medically retired for the past several years. She now enjoys volunteering her time and has served on multiple nonprofit boards, mainly focusing on children. Sandra has two adult children and just welcomed her first granddaughter in February 2021. She enjoys traveling with her husband, including going to their cabin at Lake Merwin and spending time on the water. She also enjoys riding power a assisted hand cycle to go on long bike rides with friends and family.
Emon Ghassemi, Youth Services Manager for City of Gresham
I have been a proud Oregon resident since 1986. Immigrated from Iran in 1986 at the age of 4 due to the Iran/Iraq war (1980 – 88). Growing up in the NW, I’ve gained much appreciation for the great outdoors (hiking, camping, walking, exploring, etc.). Growing up and having positive role models and mentors around me was one of the main reasons I wanted to get into youth work. Giving back to the community and helping the youth have a positive outlook is the ultimate gift.
I work as the Youth Services Manager for the City of Gresham and oversee everything youth related. My focus is on bringing positive recreational activities, resources, and services to the 30K youth and their families in Gresham.
Incredibly excited to be part of a team that is so passionate about helping youth and serving the community.
Nic loves to have fun. It was the first thing that drew him to Family of Friends in 2017, seeing a group of mentors and mentees in the community having an absolute blast! When he learned that one of the core values of the program was focusing on fun, and how powerful it can be in a kid’s life, he knew he had to volunteer! Matched with his mentee since 2018, they have done just that. Whether it’s hanging out at the arcade for hours, running around the park, or just simply enjoying a movie and some popcorn, they look forward to fun each week.
Outside of his match, he enjoys cooking dinner for his fiancé, soaking up sunshine while paddle boarding together in the summer, and is a huge San Diego Padre baseball fan.
In his professional life, Nic is a Director at TSP Technology, a Cybersecurity/IT provider, and is involved in both the Gresham Rotary Club and the Portland Rotary Toastmasters. Nic is looking forward to bringing those skills, along with his passion for fun, to the board!