Our Team

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.

We’re hiring! Join our team.


Sarah Headshot

Sarah Shaw Dixon, Executive Director, she/her/hers


Sarah believes that a joyful, healthy, successful life is something that we all deserve to have and define for ourselves. Stemming from her own experiences of struggling with positive self-identity through youth, adolescence and early adulthood, she dedicated her career to creating inclusive spaces that proactively support young people to develop social-emotional skills, be confident in who they are, kind to one another, and pursue the things in life that make them happy. She believes that our communities can be places where we uplift each other, ensuring everyone can thrive and that addressing decades of marginalization, racism, sexism, and damaging stigmas of mental health is our collective responsibility. Youth are hungry to learn about the world and find their place in it; what a powerful community we can build if everyone is empowered to authentically shine. She is humbled to bring her experience and skills to lead Family of Friends Mentoring in creating an environment for kids to do just that in east Multnomah County, the place that for her has become “home.”

Her personal joy is in spending time with loved ones, especially her young daughter, being in nature whether she’s exploring national parks or her own backyard, and cooking and eating good food. She enjoys trying new things, and also values spending time alone reading or watching a movie.


Desiree Headshot

Desiree Gutierrez, Program Manager, she/her/hers

dgutierrez@family-of-friends.org  cell: 503-351-5805

Desiree moved to Portland from California when she was 14 years old and shortly after she met a women who became a blessing in her life. She supported and mentored Desiree in a time of life when Desiree felt she had no adults to trust, depend on or to love her. It is because of this woman that Desiree has such great passion for helping people gain the skills and tools to be their better selves. After 7 years’ working with Metropolitan Family Service SUN program at Oliver Elementary School, she is excited to join the team at Family of Friends.  When she’s not out supporting her community, you can find her with friends and family: husband Gilberto and four children, Angelina (20), Yasmeen (18), Gilbert (12), and Gabriella (3). They enjoy hiking, bike rides, river trips and BBQs in the back yard.


Monica 2017 headshot

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!).



Board of Directors

Alejandra headshot

Alejandra Galindo, Latino Network

Alejandra manages Latino Network’s Community Healing Initiative, which engages at-risk and gang-involved youth to reduce violence and juvenile justice system involvement. When she’s not advocating for youth or spending time with her family, she’s working part-time as a real estate agent in the Portland Metro Area. She is extremely excited to join the Family of Friends Mentoring board to continue to serve her community and young people.


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.  

Joe Walsh headshot.jpg

Joe Walsh, City of Gresham

A native Oregonian, Joe graduated from the University of Oregon before starting a 10-year career with the Boys & Girls Clubs. There he learned firsthand about the impact of gangs on youth, and has used that experience to coordinate gang prevention efforts including mentoring programs in Hillsboro, Beaverton, Vancouver, and now, Gresham. Joe lives in Camas with his wife Alia and their three children: Lily (16), Jack (14) and Molly (10). He enjoys rooting for the Ducks and Blazers, and binge-watching Netflix. When not sitting on the couch, Joe also likes playing basketball, camping, and hiking, and plans to one day hike the Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail.



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.

Headshot 2

Lisa Elwood, Clackamas County Bank

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.

Michael Gonzales, City of Gresham

Originally hailing from Southern California, Michael grew up in a big, multi-generational, Hispanic household where family always came first. His parents’ passion for serving youth trickled down the family chain, leading Michael to follow in their footsteps of being a positive difference maker in the lives of others. He’s spent a big chunk of his adult life working with kids in a variety of ways, whether it be as a middle school teacher for at-risk youth, mentoring school aged children on financial literacy, being a “Big Brother”, as a coach for his kid’s sports teams, or simply as a positive role model for his own children. When Michael and his wife decided where to raise their family, they chose Gresham to remain close to their “village” where they knew first-hand the importance of having that stable family influence and support system in their kid’s lives. Outside of work, Michael enjoys cooking (especially BBQ), playing any sports he can still participate in (over the hill leagues), travelling and experiencing different cultures, checking out new places to explore in Oregon, and above all else, spending time with his family and friends.


Nali Thanasouk, Trillium Family Services, Board Treasurer

Nali Thanasouk leads the financial departments of Trillium Family Services and the Trillium Foundation. Nali has spent several years working in the manufacturing industry and started her career as an intern at the Boeing Co. She has held several financial/business positions throughout her career. In 2013, she came on-board with Trillium as the Controller, and has rapidly grown to love the non-profit arena and its mission.  Ms. Thanasouk received a Bachelor of Arts in Finance/Accounting at Portland State University, and obtained a Master’s Degree from the University of Oregon in Applied Information Management.

Renee McKechnie headshot.jpg

Renee McKechnie, OHSU, Board Secretary

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.


Shelly Arnold, Rivermark Community Credit Union