OPAL Staff

Please contact OPAL at [email protected] for all inquiries.

Kevin Lionga Aipopo
All Pronouns
YEJA Community Organizer

Kevin is a storyteller and student leader based in traditional Kalupuya, Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, and Atfalati lands (Beaverton, Oregon). Their work centers around the intersections between their ethnic identity as a Black American and Samoan person and their gender fluidity. Kevin uses their platforms to interrogate systems of power, challenge normalcy, and uplift voices within their communities. Through interpersonal connection, community organizing, poetry, and education, they have found space as an emerging voice for Black, Indigenous, queer, trans, and climate liberation.

[email protected]

Calaix Alexander
Finance and Operations Director

Calaix (like "ballet") has been a social justice warrior from an early age. She is warm, yet assertive and passionate in her care and support of our most marginalized community members. When she's not streamlining systems, you can catch Calaix cracking jokes on stage or slaying monsters in Dungeons and Dragons.

[email protected]

Maritza Arango
Campaigns and Programs Director

Intersectional feminist, Latinx, neurodivergent, creative, activist that bikes in the city with a service dog. Maritza has a background with programs and projects within very diverse cultural and educational settings, with a strong action framework on Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion (DEAI). She brings to the team more than a decade of experience in formal and informal education, museums & community social justice work, and a lifelong experience in yoga.

They started their journey as a social justice advocate in her early college years back in Colombia. It was during her time studying at the Sorbonne University in Paris that she got officially immersed in both theoretical and action based social work. Maritza has a multicultural and trilingual life experience that has provided her with a strong passion to deeply connect and understand diverse communities around her.

Pedro Evenezer
Trainings Coordinator

As a young person, Pedro's climate awareness was first nurtured by the thoughtful instruction of early educators and then ignited by their first hand experience living through some rather intense climactic events. As an adult, Pedro hopes to build community power through collective skill sharing and escalated actions. They care deeply in the tradition of knowledge & resource sharing, and its transformative ability to help others realize their own agency & autonomy. When not vigorously typing away at a computer, Pedro enjoys riding their bike, reading, and dancing.

Ellie Gluhosky
Campaign Organizer

Ellie got her official start in community organizing in her beloved college town, Missoula, MT, where she focused on movement building primarily around housing and environmental justice, and voting rights. During the Covid-19 pandemic, she switched from organizing to direct service work to help community members secure housing. She is thrilled to be back in an organizer role and eager to continue advocating for and with her community. Outside of work, she can be found on top of the nearest mountain, or horizontally on her couch watching and reading copious amounts of nerd content.

[email protected]

Abby Griffith
Bus Riders Unite! Community Organizer

I am a person with a disability, and I rely entirely on public transit to get around. I am committed to advocate for a better transportation system in our city, because I strongly believe that those of us who cannot drive also have a right to get where we need to go safely. My vision is to bring our community together and advocate for safer, fareless transit. A fun thing about me is I love traveling, especially taking the local bus to explore nature!

Lee Helfend
Executive Director

Lee has been organizing against dominant power structures for over a decade in several different realms, from student organizing to labor organizing, from political campaigns to everyday acts of resistance. They are deeply committed to centering relationships, care, and appreciation in community organizing spaces, and believe the messy, complicated, untold parts of our stories hold the power that is necessary to change how we think about systems, culture, and each other. On any given day, you can find them strutting in heels too high, chasing the sun, and writing about the worlds we wished we lived in.

[email protected]

Josh Laurente
Policy and Advocacy Manager

Josh is a Pacific Islander raised and rooted in the indigenous Chamoru Islands of Guam and the Marianas, whom are still fighting to secure their right to self-determination from the United States. A car-free Portlander of nearly 10 years, Josh has devoted his energy towards fighting for climate justice, decolonization, demilitarization, and public transit accessibility. Prior to joining OPAL he worked with Portland Streetcar as a Rider Ambassador, a program modeling a non-police approach to public safety on transit, where he provided direct support and community outreach to unhoused riders. In his free time Josh advocates for inclusive democracy by serving on the board of directors at Next Up Oregon, as well as on Portland's Independent District Commission. In his other free time, Josh can be found in a local bouldering gym, binging One Piece, or catching movies at the Hollywood Theatre.

[email protected]

Brian Liu
Grants Coordinator

Brian is a first generation Taiwanese-American from Honolulu, Hawaii. Brian started organizing in Portland during the 2018 fall election session as a field canvasser with Forward Together. He was an APANO Vote Fellow during the 2019 special election session before finding a home at OPAL. As OPAL's Grants Coordinator, Brian enjoys exploring new avenues to push traditional fundraising practices toward more radical ends through effective community oriented storytelling and investment. He is currently a graduate student at the European Graduate School. In his spare time he enjoys rock climbing, loitering, and fretting over whether or not he'll ever graduate.

[email protected]

Avery Temple
Housing Justice Community Organizer

I'm a queer, genderfluid, multiracial person of Indigenous and settler descent. To me, housing justice means that everyone, no matter their background or demographic, has a safe, caring and kind place to rest. Within my work, I center education and connection because I believe that successful movements require strong relationships. In all containers that I organize in, I strive to create safe spaces for people to learn dream, collaborate, grieve, struggle, and love together.

I also co-founded The Healing Underground, which is an abolitionist, healing justice, and arts grassroots collective in Portland, Oregon. When I'm not organizing, you can find me with my hands in clay at a local ceramic studio, writing, reading, daydreaming, and eating with or feeding my loved ones.

OPAL Board

Allison Carvalho
Board Member

Allison Carvalho is a former domestic worker, housing organizer, curriculum designer, facilitator, and Chief of Staff turned strategy consultant. She has worked with small businesses, academic institutions, residents, nonprofits, and governments to develop strategic partnerships, equity strategies, community engagement opportunities, and communication plans. Equity, access, and healing are at the heart of her work & the communities she comes from. Allison enjoys walking around Mount Tabor, camping, “check all that apply” questions, and the music of Carlos Santana.

Rebeka Dawit
Associate Attorney, Crag Law Center

Rebeka has been passionate about working in the environmental justice space since her coursework at UC Santa Cruz, specifically at her internship with Safe Ag Safe Schools, an environmental justice organization dedicated to protecting school children from pesticide exposure. After seeing the gaps in the law that leave environmental justice communities vulnerable, she decided to go to law school. Now, she works as Crag's primarily environmental and climate justice focused attorney. When not at work, she enjoys hiking, embroidering, baking, painting, and cultivating her apartment jungle from various local plant nurseries.

Thuyu "T" Gedi
Board Member

Thuyu "T" Gedi is currently a freshman at Portland State University with a focus on pre-nursing, as well as minors in sociology and writing. She has been a member of YEJA for three years, and this is her first year as a board member. In her free time, she enjoys playing her bass guitar, reading fashion magazines, and spending time with her cat, Woodstock.

Aaron Golub
Board Treasurer

Professor and Director, Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning, Portland State University

Dr. Golub has twenty-five years of experience working in the advocacy and academic arenas on issues of transportation equity and justice. Examples of his past work include his involvement in advocacy efforts to affect the equity outcomes of several transportation plans in the San Francisco Bay Area, his work on a federally-funded toolkit to advance transportation equity practice in the US, and his research support for two civil rights legal cases in the area of transportation plans and policies. He teaches courses at PSU on urban planning research methods, environmental justice, public transit planning, and transportation policy.

Valerie Goodness
Board Member

I have a master's in natural resource sustainability, and a PhD in American Indigenous studies, where I work to protect or restore culturally significant landscapes, foods and medicines for this continent's First Peoples. I would like to see more BIPOC inclusion in all levels of environmental justice from the boardroom to the laborer. Being outdoors, beading, gardening, and crafting is my jam!

Tristan Isaac
Interim/Vice Chair, OPAL Board of Directors

Tristan first got involved with OPAL in 2017 as an organizer-in-training and quickly became an active member of Bus Riders Unite before joining the steering committee and OPAL Board of Directors in 2019. Now as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors as well as the BRU representative on TriMet's Transit Equity Advisory Committee, Tristan seeks to promote a vision of robust, accessible and safe public transit as an all-encompassing strategy to address climate change, air quality, pedestrian safety, urban mobility, social atomization and much more. Tristan enjoys critical media analysis of all kinds, anarchist theory, afrobeat music and listening to podcasts while playing indie video games.

Jamie Newsome
Board Member

Jamie was born and raised in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. After graduating from High-School, she attended Indiana State University where she majored in Human and Environmental Systems. Environmental Justice has always been a passion of Jamie’s since she was a kid. Growing up, she would read natural disaster books and had an interest in Weather and Climate. Newsome has held positions at the Bureau of Land Management as a Park Ranger and OMSI as an Outdoor Science Educator. Newsome currently works at ELSO Inc as their Wayfinders Program Director and teaches Black and Brown kids about Outdoor STEAM Education. In her free time, she enjoys hikes, working out, traveling and trying new restaurants.

Deborah Olson
Bus Riders Unite! Steering Committee

I have been doing volunteer work since the last century (Yes, I am that old!). I joined OPAL and Bus Riders Unite! around when BRU persuaded TriMet to allow more time on a single bus ride fare. Since I am in my 60s, I'm concerned about leaving this planet in good shape, with cleaner air and giant trees for future generations.

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