Meet Our Team

Board of Directors

chester hill - PRESIDENT

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.

albert lee, Secretary

An Oregonian by choice, Albert Lee is on his second return to Portland and is currently the Dean for Business and Computing at the Sylvania Campus of Portland Community College. Prior to the college, Albert has run his own business, worked in public, private, and non-profit sectors at organizations, including: the American Bar Association, General Electric, and the US Army. As a first-generation college and law school graduate and a person who has faced homelessness and domestic abuse, he brings another perspective and insights to the board of the Giving Tree NW and endeavors to help the organization accomplish its mission. In addition to the Giving Tree NW, he is a volunteer and active member of several organizations including, the Urban League of Portland, Korean-American Coalition of Oregon, and the NAACP.

hannah flegal, treasurer

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.

Saba Saleem

Saba Saleem works at the intersection of process and product by putting theory into practice. Currently a Strategic Associate at Mandate Media, Saba has multiple years of having worked behind the scenes in policy, media content commissioning, and cross-cultural relations. Born in Pakistan, Saba moved to South East Portland in 1999 with her family, at the age of eight. Saba attended Portland State University, graduating with a BA in Communication and a minor in Business Administration, studied abroad at Universidad Pontifica de Salamanca, Spain, and completed her internship with Maxmedia in Dun Laoghaire, county Dublin, Ireland. Coming from a family of public service, Saba has worked with the Nonprofit Association of Oregon and Multnomah County after graduating from PSU, as well as having volunteered with Multnomah County Libraries, Start Making A Reader Today (SMART), Adventist Health, and Student Leaders for Service (SLS). In her free time, Saba enjoys traveling, writing, dancing, eating, and enjoying the great Pacific Northwest.

Aaron Pina

Melissa SHEA

The Giving Tree's Board of Director's is composed of determined, capable professionals.
Interested in joining the board?

Our Staff

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 wright

Melissa spent six months volunteering as an Activities Coordinator before becoming an employee. She navigates resident services as well as media marketing 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.

Alex DiBlasi

Alex joined the Giving Tree as a Resident Services Coordinator in June 2018. It is part of Alex's life mission to connect people with their communities, strengthen neighborhoods and enable them to be the change they wish to see in the world. He has seven years experience as an educator, writer, and social worker. He holds a Master's in Musicology from Brooklyn College and in 2012 became a trained advocate through the Sikh Coalition's Advocate Academy program. In the past, he has worked for New York City's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Musika Music Lessons, Portland Public Schools, and Transition Projects. When he isn't working with the Giving Tree network, Alex enjoys playing music, hiking in Oregon's High Desert, and is finishing his second book, a collection of essays on popular music and religion."

Emily schnipper

Emily has a long history in both community-building and the Arts. A graduate of Whitman College, in addition to studying Music Business and Recording at San Francisco State University. Starting out at a record label, she took her marketing skills into the nonprofit world to create and promote a volunteer program at Goodwill of San Francisco. In her hometown of Redwood City CA, Emily led the Really Really Free Market for several years, an event that connected people in need with all sorts of items. Simultaneously she worked at a start-up developing an Activity Meter for children, which combined her interests in health and communications. Outside of work, Emily can be found making zines and hunting for geocaches.

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