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Meet the Oregon Board of Directors!

24 Apr 2021 — 7 min read

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Meet the Oregon Board of Directors!

Our board is comprised of passionate volunteer leaders from across the state. 

We asked our board why they chose to volunteer with us, what it means to them to serve with us, what AFSP events they look forward to every year, their favorite AFSP memories, and more. Read on to meet our incredible board!

Angela Perry

Angela Perry, Board Chair
(She/Her)

Tigard, OR

What year did you start on the Board?
2017

What is your heart connection to the cause?
I live with chronic suicidal ideations, am an attempt survivor and a loss survivor--Jim (1998), Ryan (1998), Milo (2014) and my aunt Jean (2017).

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Board Chair, Executive Committee (Chair), Volunteer Engagement Committee, Programs & Education Committee, Nominations & Leadership Committee, Community Engagement Committee (Chair), Public Policy & Advocacy Committee (Chair), Portland Walk Planning Team

What AFSP events do you look forward to every year?
Advocacy Day, participating in advocacy work has been pivotal in helping me find my voice and healing. Knowing how dark of a place it is to be actively suicidal and finding a way out I am now able to help work as a flashlight to help others to find their way!

Prison Walks, it is amazing to go into a place most people want to avoid and get to share your heart and hear them share theirs. The adults in custody I have met have been the most engaged, real, raw and cup filling to be able to share HOPE in places that do not usually have that.

What's something about you we may not know?
I love camping, finding heart rocks and traveling!

Jenn Fraga - Oregon BoD

Jenn Fraga
(She/Her)

McMinnville, OR

What year did you start on the Board?
2020

Why do you volunteer?
I want to help others know they aren't alone.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Board Secretary, Executive Committee, Public Policy & Advocacy Committee, Programs & Education Committee, Nominations & Leadership Committee

What AFSP events do you look forward to every year?
I most enjoy the Prison Walks and Advocacy Day. I can't wait until we are able to walk in the prisons again.

What's something about you we may not know?
I have a 2-year-old Green Cheek Conure named Rikku and love to read.

Carmen Johnston - Oregon Board

Carmen Johnnston
(She/Her)

Aloha, OR

What year did you start on the Board?
2021

Why do you volunteer?
I volunteer to help other people. I lost my husband to suicide almost 3 years ago and one of my sisters is an attempt survivor.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Healing Conversations Coordinator, Programs & Education Committee, Volunteer Engagement Committee

What AFSP events do you look forward to every year?
Annual Walk and ISOSLD

What's something about you we may not know?
I have 2 cats but love dogs, I am determined to pick up crocheting again.

Jeana Gannon-Gonzales - Oregon Board

Jeana Gannon-Gonzales
(She/Her)

Oregon City, OR

What year did you start on the Board?
2021

What is your heart connection to the cause?
I lost my brother, Steve to suicide in 2012. His death crushed me in ways I did not understand. Through my grief, I searched for answers, resources, and networks. In 2016, I attended the Portland Out of Darkness Walk. The connection I found during the event was exactly what I needed. For the first time, I felt safe to talk about my brother’s death with others who understood. I knew my brother’s suicide was bigger than me, therefore my passion became around advocacy work for suicide prevention. In 2017, I began to volunteer with AFSP’s Education Committee. I became trained and presented the accredited curriculum, Talk Saves Lives for Portland Public School, and other local businesses. I found a family with AFSP. I will Be The Voice, and an agent of hope.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Portland Out of Darkness Walk Planning Committee, Programs & Education Committee, Volunteer Engagement Committee

What AFSP event do you look forward to every year?
I look forward to the Out of the Darkness Walk each year. I really appreciate the bead ceremony to connect with others in a very deep and meaningful way.

What's something about you we may not know?
I am a Chef, Community Organizer, and Health Educator. And I LOVE dogs.

Maili Halverson - Oregon Board

Maili Halverson
(She/Her)

Vancouver, WA

What year did you start on the Board?
2018

Why is volunteering important to you?
After my brother died by suicide, I learned about AFSP and all the good work that they do which led me to becoming a volunteer. With suicide prevention, families will not feel the pain that I felt after losing my brother.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Board Treasurer, Executive Committee, Nominations & Leadership Committee, Programs & Education Committee

What AFSP event do you look forward to every year?
International Survivor of Suicide Loss Day and the Portland Out of the Darkness Walk.

What's something about you we may not know?
I love collecting vintage vinyl records and thrift store shopping.

Lucianne Ryan - Oregon Board

Lucianne Ryan
(She/Her)

Hillsboro, OR

What year did you start on the Board?
2020

Why is volunteering important to you?
I am a suicide survivor and survivor of suicide loss. If what we do as suicide prevention advocates can help just one person find hope in their dark times, then our work is worth doing.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Programs & Education Committee Chair

What is your favorite AFSP event?
The OSU Out of the Darkness is my favorite Oregon AFSP event for two reasons. I have been Chair and volunteer coordinator of that event for the past few years, which is something I really enjoy doing. More importantly, that event was where I got my start with mental health advocacy, where I shared my story as a suicide survivor for the first time, and where I met my AFSP family.

What's something about you we may not know?
I have a puppy named Henrie who brings so much joy to me and my family, and I am a huge Harry Potter fan (#GoSlytherin). I’m also a recent college graduate! Go Beavs!

Lance Nelson - Oregon Board

Lance Nelson
He/Him

Coos Bay, OR

What year did you start on the Board?
2019

Why do you volunteer?
Over my life I have experienced the heartache of suicide from many different angles. The first time I had an encounter with suicide was when I was 16 years old and learned that a childhood friend of mine was on the McCullough Bridge, threatening to jump. I could not comprehend at the time how this friend of mine who I used to play with when I was younger was so distraught that he wanted to end his life. I was so sad for him, but luckily he decided to live.

As a mental health therapist by profession, I was trained on how to deal with depressed, suicidal individuals but found quickly in my career that I was drawn to working with kids and adults who are in active crisis. This led me to work in several different emergency departments and mobile crisis teams with a specific aim of preventing suicide and arranging for appropriate emergency treatment.

As a parent, I have helped raise two daughters who have been victims of sexual assault. Through their extensive trauma history, both of my daughters have attempted suicide and been hospitalized. This has brought me even closer to the plight of those who have lost hope and felt that only death could ease their pain. I am happy to report that both of my daughters are doing well today.

Finally, I have experienced sorrow, pain and fear personally and due to overwhelming circumstances I have felt extreme despair which has also caused me to weigh the option to keep fighting or to succumb to the urge to leave this world behind and take my life. Even as a trained therapist who knows coping skills and mechanisms to overcome suicidal thoughts, I too have found myself with my life hanging in the balance.

My hope is that my work with AFSP’s Oregon chapter will not only serve as an encouragement to others, but I will strive to bring resources to the dark corners of our state in an effort to tackle this deadly threat head on. Even one life saved is worth all the resources and effort we can muster.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Board President, Coos County Walk Chair, Executive Committee, Programs & Education Committee, Fundraising Committee

What are you most looking forward to this year?
Building and expanding upon the success of the Coos County OOTD Walk.

What's something about you we may not know?
I love fishing, bird watching and hanging out with my family and dogs.

Samantha Zimlich - Oregon Board

Samantha
(She/Her)

Cottage Grove, OR

What year did you start on the Board?
2019

Why do you volunteer?
I volunteer for friends and family that I've lost, but mostly I volunteer for myself and my own mental health.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Eugene Walk Chair, Volunteer Engagement Committee Chair

What are you most looking forward to this year?
I look forward to going to as many Out of the Darkness walks I can possibly go to. The sense of community is the best.

What's something about you we may not know?
My husband and I have 5 cats and 2 dogs!

Daniel Bielenberg - Oregon BoD

Dan
(He/Him)

Salem, OR

What year did you start on the Board?
2019

Why is volunteering important to you?
Making a difference.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Project 2025 Champion

What AFSP events do you look forward to every year?
Any Walk

What's something about you we may not know?
Tall Prison Worker

Connection makes a difference

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