Meet our 10th Anniversary Sponsors

Upstream Staff

Executive Director

Mel is a longtime advocate of health justice, economic opportunity, and environmental protections at the local and state levels. Over the past decade, Mel has successfully advocated for policies related to healthier food, active transportation, tobacco prevention and reducing health disparities. Since 2010, he’s served on several boards and committees including for the Oregon Climate and Health Resilience Plan, Health Share of Oregon, the Oregon Health Equity Alliance, and the Oregon Conservation Network. Mel has an MS in environmental engineering, an MS in nutrition policy, and a BA in economics, and is a former Fulbright Fellow.

Health Equity Manager

Claudia has a strong background in civic engagement and leading innovative community – building initiatives in racially and linguistically diverse neighborhoods. She has over eight years experience working with immigrant and communities of color and over six years experience with strategic planning, policy development and analysis. Her public sector experience includes community development work within the Seattle Mayor Nickel's office, constituent services within U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell's office, and other positions related to food policy, housing, education and literacy. Claudia holds a Master's degree in Public Administration from the University of Washington and a Bachelor's degree in English from Duke University. She is fluent in Spanish. When Claudia isn't working she enjoys reading,  wine, traveling, exercising while pushing a stroller, dabbling in pottery, and spending time with her family. 

Policy Manager, Food and School Health

Kasandra's role at Upstream focuses on food, healthy schools, and especially healthy food at schools.   Her accomplishments include helping secure chronic absenteeism as a key indicator for state school reporting, coordinating the Oregon School Garden Summit, securing millions in additional funding for Farm to School and School Garden programs statewide, and producing Oregon's Healthy School Food Report Card.  She currently chairs the "Healthy Kids Learn Better" coalition and serves on the steering committee of the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network. She is a dedicated bicycle commuter and spends her free time gardening, backpacking, and helping lead Depave, an organization she co-founded.  

Research Manager

Tia earned her PhD in Urban Studies with a dual concentration in Community Development and Community Health from Portland State University's School of Urban Studies and Planning. Her research efforts focus on healthy food environments, children's health, and ecosystem health. Recognized by the Oregon Public Health Association with an "emerging leader" award, Tia is passionate about working with communities to answer research questions that positively contribute to their lives.

Program Manager, Tobacco Prevention and Oral Health

Nafisa works collaboratively to reduce the endemic of tobacco use among minors, increase tobacco regulations in the retail environment, reform nicotine/e-cig regulations, provide educational information on the dangers of tobacco and increase access to oral health for children aged six months to five years old that are enrolled in licensed childcare programs in the tri-county area. Her work emphasizes policy and community based approaches. Prior to joining Upstream, Nafisa was the diversity and quality improvement coordinator for Multnomah County Health Department and has over 10 years of experience working to influence change and eliminate health disparities. As a multilingual individual who was born and raised in various African countries, Nafisa appreciates diversity and collaborative approaches to tackle systemic problems in healthcare.

Laura Heiser

Development Director

Laura Heiser came on board as the Development Director for Upstream Public Health in Spring 2013. She brings over 20 years of fund raising experience with her. Laura specializes in building relationships with individual and corporate donors and has experience grant writing and organizing special events. She has served as the Development Director for several Portland-based organizations including Children First for Oregon, Habitat for Humanity, and St. Andrew Legal Clinic. She was also the Annual Fund Manager for a national women's organization called Women's Funding Network, now headquartered in San Francisco, and has raised funds for several other health and human service organizations in her home town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Laura graduated with a BA in History from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and has taken several graduate level Nonprofit Management and Public Administrative classes at Portland State University. In her free time you can find Laura on her bike riding hundreds of miles to beautiful Pacific Northwest destinations.

Dental Health Coordinator

Ann is a licensed expanded practice dental hygienist who spent years in private practice. While working in private practice, she taught part-time in Clark College’s dental hygiene program as a clinical instructor. Her career turned towards dental public health when she accepted a position with Vancouver’s Health Department working with WIC moms and facilitating Smile Surveys. Another door opened and she found herself driving a 32 foot motor home equipped with two dental 'operatories' to public schools and community events to provide dental services for the under-served populations, a program Ann developed through the Free Clinic of SW Washington. The next exciting turn in the road was at the University of Washington where she spent several years working with the School of Dentistry creating and coordinating dental research projects. She continues to spend some of her time with dental research and the rest coordinating dental health opportunities for children. Last Spring, Ann's work with children included collaborating with Dental 3 to coordinate dental services for Head Start schools. Ann is continuing this valuable work at licensed daycare centers in the Portland tri-county area as the Dental Health Coordinator at Upstream Public Health. Her passion is to eradicate dental problems for all children! Her wish is that children would never lose sleep or miss school because of a tooth ache. Her free time is spent gardening, riding a bike or reading a good book.

Health Educator

Valerie is a licensed Expanded Practice Dental Hygienist in Oregon, has a Bachelor's in Kinesiology, and is an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She has had a diverse career in private and public healthcare services and as an educator. She has joined Upstream to focus on improving oral health education for families and children under the age of 6. The focus of her time will be to introduce improved nutrition practices and dental toothbrushing implementation, to both students, families and staff, through licensed childcare facilities in the Tri-County area. Valerie has a passion to see a reduction of dental decay in young children. In her spare time, Valerie can be found creating or teaching jewelry making, partner dancing or taking lessons, mentoring new moms on breastfeeding, or being with her sweet dog, Honey.

Office Coordinator

Amanda has over 10 years of experience working in education, project management and business ownership. Under the umbrella of Office Coordinator Amanda wears many hats at Upstream including: bookkeeping, grants management, web development, graphic design and event planning support. Holding both an undergraduate degree as well as a Master of Public Health, Amanda is thriving in the Upstream environment where she can collaborate to support the work of the brilliant Upstream team ... and sharing the power of a well-placed dark chocolate bar! After hours Amanda can be found working on her vintage VW bus, teaching Irish flute, working in her evolving garden, designing a chicken coop, raising her amazing kids and dreaming of training as a midwife to 'catch babies' someday....