Linda Nilsen Solares, MPA, Executive Director
Linda, a native of rural Michigan, has had diverse experience in the world of health care, starting with public health community organizing in Central America with a non governmental organization called Outreach International.
After moving to the Portland area in 1993, she spent 12 years working for Washington County, most of that time in the Department of Health and Human Services, where she worked as a Health Educator and Program Manager for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening program.
Immediately prior to her work with Project Access NOW, Linda managed the Essential Health Clinic, a free urgent care clinic in Washington County.
Linda spends her non-work life with her husband Edgar, a school teacher in Beaverton, and their two vivacious daughters.
Call Linda at 503.413.5549.
Photo credit: Andie Petkus Photography
2012 National Nurses Day
2012 National Doctors Day
March 2012: Celebrating Action: Bridges to Healthcare
January 2012: What’s your WHY?
December 2011: Nobody Can Do Everything
November 2011: The Nexus of Giving and Getting
October 2011: Light a Fire
June 2011: We’re on Facebook and Twitter
February 2011: Values in Action and Celebrating our Shared Successes
January 2011: New Year and More Impact as We Connect People to Healthcare. Today.
December 2010: Looking back, looking forward
October 2010: Health reform, Project Access NOW, and you
September 2010: Another Open House, another milestone
August 2010: Sneak peak at Project Access NOW outcomes
July 2010: In-kind contributions keep us up and running
June 2010: New fiscal year heralds expansion
May 2010: Healthcare reform and Project Access NOW
February 2010: New board recruits, new program, and an event to boot
January 2010: Broadening the Project Access NOW circle
November 2009: The challenges of success
October 2009: Announcing publication of the Interim Evaluation Report
September 2009: Consider the many ways to get involved with Project Access NOW
August 2009: Project Access NOW sets sights high for 2009/2010
Linda’s profile in The Sign, the e-newsletter of Semiosis Communications, our corporate partner.
Janet Hamilton, Director of Operations
Janet, a recovering Californian, has called Portland home since 2003. Her love affair with the Pacific Northwest began 12 years before that when she began traveling here regularly for her work as a healthcare information systems consultant, a profession she has yet to fully shed, despite various career and educational forays as a coffee shop/specialty grocery store owner, organizational development consultant, mediator, and even one day of law school.
While working as Director of Information Systems at Columbia United Providers in Vancouver, Janet’s strong desire to live andwork in Portland and to become even more involved in the important work of helping people navigate our broken health care system led her to the new position with Project Access NOW.
Janet is thrilled to be riding her bike to work everyday, and honored to be counted among the outstanding staff of Project Access NOW. When not at work, you can find Janet coaxing her tomato plants through the June gloom, overspending at a farmers market, or paddling on one of our fabulous waterways.
Call Janet at 503.413.5541.
Elgin Dean, IT Specialist
When Project Access NOW was just getting off the ground with two busy staff, it became clear the organization needed to pay attention to technology support. Elgin Dean had been managing the Human Computer Interaction Lab at Lewis & Clark College and was identified as a recent graduate who could potentially jump in and help out with a variety of Project Access NOW’s technology needs. On a fine May day in 2008, he visited the tiny Project Access NOW office to learn more about this job opportunity.
“I did expect to be interviewed,” Elgin recalled. “But as soon as I walked in the door, Linda asked me to start fixing things.”
Elgin sailed through his slightly unorthodox interview and became the third staff member of the organization. Things have changed a lot since then.
Call Elgin at 503.413.5541.
Cristina Tobón, Program Manager
Cristina Tobón has dedicated herself to helping people adjust to “living in America”. After moving from Colombia to Miami, Florida, she experienced the common assimilation difficulties. She said, “Having the privilege of education and language skills, I thought others without those would struggle even more, so I decided to help.”
For the following 6 years, Cristina worked as a program manager for the Family and Children Faith Coalition of South Florida, which provides after-school services, prevention education, and mentoring. In mid-2010, the organization was forced to severely cut its budget, leaving Cristina with a near-obvious choice: visit Portland where her daughter lives. Cristina soon fell in love with the city and decided to stay.
In her new start, she volunteered at the Center for Intercultural Organizing, which helps immigrants and refugees settle in Portland’s communities. One of her co-volunteers was Hikari Ward, who worked as a care coordinator at Project Access NOW at the time and who told Cristina about job openings there.
“I was looking for a job, so it was perfect timing,” Cristina said.
Photo credit: Andie Petkus Photography
Debbie Rieke, Manager of Development and Resources
Debbie Rieke was volunteering for Northwest Portland Ministries on a planned hiatus from paid work to focus on personal goals and service to the community when she learned of Project Access NOW. While waiting for a meeting to begin, she picked up one of Project Access NOW’s brochures on display in the lobby that was shared by both organizations. After reading about Project Access NOW’s mission and vision, she instantly felt the need to become involved. She reached out to program coordinator, Lorraine Williams, and began volunteering shortly thereafter.
Debbie likes to be around people and has always been driven by the desire to help others, so her prior experience as a Certified Medical Assistant and, later, as a Human Resources professional, proved to be a good fit with Project Access NOW. She drew upon her knowledge of staffing and organizational development to enhance Project Access NOW’s community volunteer program, and she became the liaison between staff and community volunteers. Debbie’s knowledge of planning corporate events also proved valuable as she became involved in planning the annual Bridges to Healthcare event as well as other events throughout the year.
Photo credit: Andie Petkus Photography
Annabelle LaVallie, Care Coordination Specialist
After majoring in English and Chicano Studies in college, Annabelle LaVallie moved to Portland in 2001 to attend school to become a writer. She worked a number of jobs in bookstores that allowed her to follow her passion for the written word. She had also always been interested in serving the community. Eventually, she put the writing career on hold to explore a career in public health.
While she was working as a bilingual Clinic Assistant for Planned Parenthood of the Columbia Willamette, Annabelle ran across the ad for a Care Coordination Specialist with Project Access NOW. Seeing it at it as an opportunity to serve a larger, more diverse population, Annabelle applied for and got the job.
Janet Lara, Care Coordination Specialist
Janet Lara was looking for a job with steady hours and a schedule that would allow her to be home more with her new baby. She has prior experience working for dental health care providers. Her friend is a Care Coordination Specialist at Project Access NOW and suggested she apply for an open position there. It was a perfect match. Janet fit right in with the rest of the Project Access NOW team.
As a Care Coordination Specialist, Janet answers phone inquiries, discusses program information with new clients, processes enrollment applications, and provides overall customer service. She enjoys her job and says, “Project Access NOW fills an important need in the community, and it feels good to be a part of that.”
Michael Conway, Development Associate
Michael moved to Portland with his wife, Laura, after completing his Masters degree in Social Science in May of 2012 from Humboldt State University’s Environment and Community program. After visiting Portland many times they thought they’d like to make it their home. Looking forward to enjoying the energy Portland offered, they packed their two cats and moved three days after graduation.
School offered Michael a broader and better understanding of the inequities in the world. Having lived without health insurance for his academic career and some of his childhood, he knows first-hand the challenges of getting medical care without insurance. After hearing of Project Access NOW through a job posting, he wanted to help. Project Access NOW offered Michael the chance to help connect people to health care and create a more equitable community.
Jennine Smart, Partnership Relations Manager
Jennine Smart had recently completed her Master’s degree in Social Work from Portland State University when a friend spotted an ad for an open position with Project Access NOW and forwarded it to Jennine. A short while after responding to the ad, Jennine received a call from Project Access NOW’s director of Operations, Janet Hamilton, inviting her for an interview.
After further exploration and a second interview, Jennine was hired as our Partnership Relations Manager.
Adam Merecias, Care Coordination Specialist
For Adam Merecias helping people has always been important and he knows a lot about connecting those in need to services and resources that can help them. After obtaining a degree in community health education from Portland State University, Adam worked as a family advocate for the Oregon Child Development Coalition. It was his job to help connect families and children to services such as the Oregon Health Plan and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. He also taught classes to parents through the Head Start program.
Adam knew of Project Access NOW through his volunteer work as a medical interpreter at The Essential Health Clinic. He had also met former program manager, Katie Ulin, a few years ago. So, when he noticed a job posting for a care coordinator at Project Access NOW, he applied.