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Community Gathering Center Leadership Group

Abdul H. Fofanah works with African immigrant and refugee youth at Lutheran Community Services Northwest. A native of Sierra Leone, Abdul recently served on the Mayor’s Immigrant and Refugee Task Force.

Amrina Sugaipova Qaisi is an active member in the Chechen, Russian and Muslim communities of Portland. She serves on the national board of Chechnya Advocacy Network, headquartered in New York, and is a member of the Muslim Educational Trust.

Baher Sami Raphael Butti is a political asylee from Iraq. A psychiatrist by training, he works as a counselor in the Intercultural Psychiatry program at OHSU, where he founded an Arabic clinic.

Carlos Gelin and Judith Gelin (shared position) are the founders of the Society for Haitian Arts and Culture. Carlos is a master drummer who focuses his civic energy on crime and poverty reduction and youth empowerment and Judith is a musician and performing artist.

Cece Hughley Noel is Executive Director of Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Program, where she works with very diverse groups of stakeholders to reach consensus on community issues. Cece works with many organizations, among them Women in NAACP and the Center for Intercultural Organizing.

Ekaterina Stoops holds a Ph.D. in Education who works in the Portland Public School District’s Russian Immersion Program. Ekaterina is passionate about cultural and language preservation.

Elzbieta Howard, an Executive Board member of the Slavic Coalition, is an active member of the Polish/Eastern European community. She works as part of a multicultural team providing mental health crisis response, outreach and consultation.

Evelyne Ello-Hart serves as the Coordinator of the African Women’s Coalition. Originally from Cote d’Ivoire, Evelyne recently graduated from the Western Institute for Organizing and Leadership Development for Immigrants and Refugees (WILDIR), a program of Western States Center, where she worked with immigrant leaders from eight states.

Maria Lisa Johnson, a Latina from Peru, is the Executive Director of Latino Network. A member of the Mayor’s Immigrant and Refugee Task Force, Marialisa also volunteers with the Portland Public Market, Northwest Constitutional Rights Center and the Coalition for Educational Excellence.

Martha Perez is active in Latino, Native American and peace communities. She considers herself a “general political activist” who works on a wide range of issues—immigration, environment, civil rights, health care and more.

Jesus Armando Estrada is the son of a Mexican immigrant father and Texas-born mother, who spent his youth migrating throughout the west. Now a retired school teacher, he is the co-founder/ President of the Oregon Association of Bilingual Educators and serves as President of Frente Comun, a Latino advocacy organization. He also currently serves on KBOO radio’s conflict resolutions committee and supervises student teacher interns for Oregon and Washington Universities.

Jo Ann Bowman, a prominent African American community leader, is the Executive Director of Oregon Action. A former state legislator, Jo Ann serves on the boards of Coalition for a Livable Future, KBOO Community Radio and Portland Community Media, among others.

Kayse Jama, a refugee from Somalia, is the Executive Director of the Center for Intercultural Organizing. He recently served on the Mayor’s Immigrant and Refugee Task Force.

Lul Abdulle is the Director of the Somali Women’s Association, where she organizes cultural awareness presentations for neighborhood associations and district coalitions. Lul is a 2007 Spirit of Portland award winner.

Murad Nuryagdiev works as the immigration coordinator at Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees (SOAR), a program of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. A current Diversity and Civic Leadership Academy participant, Murad also serves on the newly formed Vision into Action (VIA) Coalition Steering Committee.

Sonny S. Tan, an active member of the Cambodian-American Community of Oregon and retired U.S. Army Colonel, has more than 20 years of demonstrated leadership experience in operations, planning, training, coaching and mentoring. He also serves on the President's Board of Visitors for Minority Affairs at Oregon State University.

Rolia Manyongai Jones has been involved with visionPDX since 2006, most recently serving on the visionPDX Transition Team. She has worked with many African organizations in Portland, including Oregon Association of Liberia, Africa House, Friends of Libera and African Women’s Coalition.

Therese Nakito Lugano, a former member of parliament in her home country of Democratic Republic of Congo, now serves on several boards: Light of Africa, Congolese Community of Oregon and African Community Coalition of Oregon. Therese is a participant in the City’s Diversity and Civic Leadership Academy.

Waddah K. Sofan is an active member of Muslim Educational Trust and serves on the Board of the Center for Intercultural Organizing. Originally from Palestine, Waddah is a professional interpreter who works to empower children with disabilities in his free time.