Meet Our Team
Board of Directors
EVAN p. THOMAS, BOARD PRESIDENT, CHAIRMAN of the board
Evan works in downtown Portland at eBay’s as a Sr. Product Manager. He is the eBay's Portland Foundation chairman, and an active volunteer for Make-A-Wish Oregon, Children’s Cancer Association, Portland Business Alliance, Global Shapers PDX, Lupus Foundation of America, and Human Solutions. In a previous life, he was a playwright with two commissioned short plays for Portland Center Stage. TGT provides Evan challenging, meaningful ways to combine his corporate strategy skills with creative roots, and give back to the city he has always called “home.”
Jacob Johnson, Treasurer, Finance Committee CHAIR
Jacob joined the board in 2013 with a passion to become more involved in the Portland community. He brings over 10 years professional experience in finance and sales operations. One of the ways he likes to balance out his time is by doing good and seeing others smile. Jacob was born and raised in the suburbs of Portland and thinks it is a fine place. He is learning how to fly fish and would one day like to be able to knit his own socks.
chester hill, Secretary
Chester joined the board in 2017 to give back to the community where he grew up. A Portland native, he foolishly moved away and lived on the wrong coast for six years. Now that he's returned older and wiser, he hopes to remain in Rip City. By day, Chester is an associate at Cosgrave Vergeer Kester LLP. By night, he enjoys pickup basketball, playing the guitar, and learning to cook, a skill he's never really mastered. In a past life, Chester wrote short fiction and essays. He hopes to publish some of his work one day.
Erin Currie, EVENTS COMMITTEE CHAIR
As a Psychologist, educator, and consultant, Erin's focus has always been honoring and developing the strengths and talents of her clients and students. The Giving Tree mission to connect people to resources, empower them to come together to support each other, and find themselves through art seemed like a great fit.
As a recent transplant from Wisconsin/Minnesota, she is enjoying everything the PDX area has to offer, especially the relative lack of mosquitos. Outdoor adventures, culinary adventures, starting a new consulting business, and meeting new people have been keeping her busy.
SCOTT LANGEN, Board member
Scott fled the Midwest in 1998 to make Portland his new home. He brings more than 12 years in non-profit fund development experience. Passionate about the need for safe affordable housing for vulnerable populations combined with services that support residents lead healthy active lives, he is very pleased to support the mission of The Giving Tree. He is an avid reader and book collector, enjoys cooking, the Oregon coast, and naps.
hannah flegal, Board member
A Portland-Metro native, Hannah is excited to have joined the Giving Tree NW Board. Passionate about understanding the ways systems affect individuals and individuals affect systems, she has been working in the social services field for almost 10 years, ranging from work with developmental disability, employment equity, and abuse survivors. Participating in the mission of the Giving Tree NW is a way for Hannah to support community and creativity within Portland’s housing communities. In spare moments, Hannah enjoys playing with her art supplies and napping in sunny corners with her dog.
The Giving Tree's Board of Director's is composed of determined, capable professionals.
Interested in joining the board?
GLORIA LEE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Gloria Lee joined The Giving Tree as Executive Director in 2014. She brings 15 years of experience in growing non-profits and 25+ years in senior management with SYSCO.
In 2000, Gloria transitioned from VP Merchandising at SYSCO to Executive Director of Portland’s newly opened Classical Chinese Garden. She fell in love with mission driven organizations and thrives on growing successful non-profits. At The Giving Tree, Gloria combines her passion for building community using arts and culture as foundational cornerstones in connecting diverse populations to each other. Besides gardening, cooking and reading, Gloria believes in giving back. She has served on the boards of Cedar Mill Library, Travel Portland and Northwest China Council. Currently, she serves on the boards of Old Town/Chinatown Community Association and the Chinese American Citizen’s Alliance.
Melissa spent six months volunteering as an Activities Coordinator before becoming an employee. She navigates resident services as well as program development and brings her passion and training in the arts to our organization. She spent three years living in Singapore where she graduated with a Masters Degree in Digital Art and Animation from New York University Tisch-Asia. She has volunteered at an orphanage in Romania using art activities to build the community, which ignited her interest in understanding the problems that underrepresented and underprivileged populations face in day-to-day life and how the arts can be used to enhance potential and bring people together. Melissa spends her free time hiking, camping, swimming, and kayaking; and loves to travel and learn about different cultures.
Stephanie Jazzar possess a Bachelor and Master's Degree in Psychology to which, she graduated with Honors. She comes to us with a strong background working in non-profits at many levels. She is eclectic in her orientation and offers a holistic, integrative, client-centered approach. She tempers the process with resources, creativity, imagination, and humor, along with practical solutions and concrete goals. Stephanie is a two-time nominee for the Governor's Council of Special Education and Disabilities Award. She has organized Stand- Down for Vets and the Point-in-Time count for the homeless population. She has volunteered her services at many community clinics on the Oregon Coast. She is an amateur textile artist, general science nerd, nature enthusiast, professional counselor, book fanatic, and a total coffee and sushi maven.
Meet Our Founder, Wendi Anderson
Management professional and fine artist Wendi Anderson founded The Giving Tree in 2006, after identifying the need for our services while working in the affordable housing industry. She saw firsthand the high degree of recidivism in SRO (Single Room Occupancy) affordable housing, which she attributed to the service and support void that many extremely low income people fall into once they move off the streets into housing. As a resident services professional she had been building programs based around her own strengths (community building using art, education, and recreation), and through her programs had helped many people retain stable housing and improve their quality of life. She formed The Giving Tree in order to duplicate her successes with an increased number of clients.
After receiving 501(c)3 designation for The Giving Tree in 2007, Wendi launched a pilot program at a single affordable housing site in NE Portland, providing referral and support services to families, a computer lab and afterschool enrichment five days a week, and a full summer program with Summer Food Service meals when school was out. After a successful first year, The Giving Tree expanded to include four more affordable housing sites (one multi-family site and three SRO buildings serving adults), and diversified its programming to include referral services, support, and activities beneficial to adult populations. Since then, The Giving Tree has expanded carefully and methodically, growing from one site in 2006 to eleven sites in 2011.
Wendi has received the following awards for her work with The Giving Tree:
- HILLTOP Award for outstanding service to low-income individuals and families living in Multnomah County, 2013
Multnomah County Commission on Children, Families & Community, Portland, OR
- Civic Responsibility Award, 2008
Metro Multifamily Housing Association, Portland, OR
- Skidmore Prize in Community Building, 2007
Momentum Market Intelligence and Willamette Week, Portland, OR