Michele Veenker 8-21-2019-Cropped.jpg



Michele was fortunate enough to be a stay at home mother of five children for 16 years before starting on a winding career path that included working her way up from a part-time bank teller to a branch manager, working in the parts department of a car dealership, doing landscape maintenance, and creating pressed flower pictures that she sold at area art shows and harvest fairs.  During this time Michele was an avid volunteer doing work that has included volunteering at the local schools, with her church, as well as for the Organized Citizens of Sandy, Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees, the Morrison Center for Children, and Executive Women International, among others.  

After several years watching both her ex-husband and her daughter struggle with severe mental illness, she started volunteering for NAMI Clackamas, first serving as their Public Policy Liaison and later as a board member.  In the process, she realized that she had finally decided what she wanted to be when she “grew up” and started taking nonprofit management and development courses at Portland State University’s Institute for Nonprofit Management where she earned certification in both.  In 2010, after receiving their first grant and doing an extensive search, NAMI Clackamas hired Michele as their first employee.

Under her leadership, NAMI Clackamas has more than doubled membership; greatly increased program attendance, volunteer engagement, and community outreach;  added several new programs and classes including Basics, Peer-to-Peer Wellness classes, Parents and Teachers as Allies, the Open Minds Open Art Studio, and Peer Resource Connection. She has also been instrumental in bringing In Our Own Voice presentations into area high schools; increasing the number of locations for support groups into Sandy, Milwaukie and Molalla; as well as securing 1200 feet of donated office space for the organization.




A native of Buffalo NY and Portland resident since 1985, Gary has lived in the Concordia neighborhood since 1988. After more than 25 years in media, publishing, and consulting; he launched an encore career in 2000 recruiting volunteers and managing community projects. He launched an encore marriage in 1989, has two daughters, a stepson, and three grandchildren.

A chronic volunteer since being called to service as a fundraiser for “Jerry’s Kids” at the tender age of 8, Gary has been engaged in community service at a variety of levels from picking up trash and planting trees to wrangling volunteers and chairing boards ever since.

Armed with a prolific contact network combined with a passion for making a difference, Gary serves on the Board of Colored Pencils Art & Culture Council, is a founding Executive Team member of the Aging Artfully Initiative, and a member of the newly formed Portland Police Training Advisory Committee along with the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) and Age Friendly Portland.




Maxwell-James, Max for short, is originally from the Bay Area and moved to Portland in 2017 where he was hospitalized and diagnosed with mental health conditions. He's suffered many difficult days with mental health and chronic physical pain, but those dark days have helped shape the man he is today. He feels his personal journey thus far has provided him deep insights that will guide him in supporting others to strive towards their passions and goals. Sharing our stories can be so impactful, to help us not feel alone and gain more hope in believing that recovery is possible for anyone and should be accessible to everyone. Max currently possesses his Peer Support Specialist certification and has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Sonoma State University. He plans to further his education to better support underserved populations and their communities.


In his free time, he loves to read, dance, sing, draw, paint, write, and binge TV shows. He defines himself as a transgender man who is creative, resilient, and full of spirit. He loves living in Portland because of the delicious food and numerous outdoor activities. When the weather is nice, you’ll usually see him out hiking or swimming. Max is all about cats! He currently owns a cat named Zara who is his precious baby child. He absolutely loves all animals and hopes to incorporate animal-assisted therapy into his work in the future!




Sheri’s career has spanned both non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses, including developing and executing organizational strategies and new programs, as well as growing existing programs. 

Driven by her desire to use her knowledge and experience to positively impact the lives of others, Sheri began volunteering with various non-profits in the areas of strategic business and operational plan development and implementation, board recruitment, fundraising and event management, community outreach, and recruiting and managing volunteers. She also earned a Non-Profit Management Certificate from Golden Gate University.

Most recently Sheri was with Youth Homes, an organization in the SF Bay Area that provides mental health services, residential treatment and care coordination for at-risk youth, ages 16-25, who have experienced trauma, abuse, neglect and severe mental health challenges. As the Mentor Program Manager, Sheri developed and managed a volunteer mentor program. When promoted to Workforce Development Manager, she developed and implemented an employment services program working with traumatized and abused foster and former foster youth, dealing with mental illness, homelessness and substance abuse. Realizing that there was nowhere in the local community for youth to go to gain employment and life skills once they turned 18, Sheri helped raise funds and built and managed a Resource Center, developing and facilitating employment and life skills workshops, social activity events and leadership skills development. Determined to help these youth as best she could, Sheri became a Global Career Development Facilitator and a Certified Career Services Provider.
As Director of Support Services, Sheri managed several programs supporting education, employment, housing and independent living skills in coordination with the mental health clinical staff.

Sheri recently moved to Portland to be close to her two daughters. She is thrilled to have connected with NAMI Clackamas and is excited to work with everyone as Volunteer Coordinator, helping to bring awareness to the community and support those impacted by mental health issues.




When communities connect the sense of life in society change, it is important that we all work together to develop the ability to perceive awareness about mental health.  Gisela’s passion is connecting people through education and public health. She supports communities suffering through a trauma or stressful experience.

Gisela joined NAMI in 2018 and she is coordinating outreach efforts in Clackamas County to provide education about mental health to hundreds of families. Growing up in Central America she embraces  culture and diversity.  Gisela’s background includes a B.A. in Education, experience in mental health, many years as a project manager and teacher in United States. She pursues her passion and dedication to communities providing classes, training and coordinating events for NAMI.



Sarah is passionate about mental health care, early detection and treatment of mental health conditions in youth and is working to become a child and family counselor. Sarah has been a long-time Nami Clackamas volunteer beginning at the age of 18. Sarah is a peer who experienced Post Traumatic Stress disorder and anxiety which began at the early age of five. She is also a family member of people with mental health conditions, including her mother, a 15 year old cousin and several other members of her family. She has worked as a Peer Wellness Specialist, a Traditional Health Care worker and a Qualified Mental Health Associate in mental health crisis support services in the nonprofit sector for 6+ years before joining the NAMI Clackamas team. She has extensive experience doing outreach, advocacy, resource navigation and peer support, often coordinating between Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties.

She has also acted as a member of numerous committees for mental health awareness and systems change. 


Sarah is a Oregon native who grew up surrounded by nature, animals, comedy and art. In her free time, Sarah enjoys sculpting, writing, playing with her cats, practicing her comedy routines and spending time with family in the natural beauty of the state. She is excited to work with you! 



Senior Circuit Court Judge

Retired as Presiding Judge of Clackamas County, Judge Selander has been instrumental in bringing Mental Health Court to Clackamas County, the first such court in Oregon. A longtime resident of Lake Oswego and proud graduate of the Willamette University College of Law, he is currently Adjunct Professor at George Fox University and principal of Selander Mediation.



Retired from Oregon Department of Human Services

Mary Clark grew up in California and attended Willamette University. She has lived in Clackamas County for more than 35 years. Mary recently retired from the Department of Human Services where she worked in direct services, administration and community development for 40 years. The families Mary served experienced many challenges including mental illness, domestic violence, substance abuse, and learning needs in addition to poverty. Mary continues to work as a community volunteer for the Youth Service Provider Network, Hispanic Interagency Networking Team, Children of Incarcerated Parents Committee, and recently joined the board of NAMI. Mary firmly believes that the more collaborative we can be the better we are able to serve our citizens



US Bank Portfolio Monitoring Analyst

I was born and raised in Clackamas County.  I graduated from Portland State with a degree in accounting and am currently working as a commercial loan underwriter for the community banking group at US Bank. Although I moved to Central Oregon for my job, I remain connected to the community as I have family and friends still living in the area.  


Having had my personal life impacted by mental illness I know how important it is to offer the care and support necessary to help others through difficult times and so being able to help out, in a financial analysis capacity (which is a personal strength) seemed like a great way for me to support a group that I know has served so many. 


PAMELA BLACKWELL |  VP of Support and Education

Transactional Attorney, NAMI Clackamas Volunteer Teacher, Facilitator, & Presenter

Pamela grew up on the east coast. She attended St; Andrews University, Scotland and earned a UK law degree at London Metropolitan and a US law degree at Lewis & Clark. A long-time resident of Clackamas County, Pamela has three children. She has learned to navigate the special education process at local schools.


JUDY STEELE | VP of Outreach and Advocacy

Retired Educator




Realtor - Sotheby's International Realty 

Laura Canida is a new member of the NAMI-Clackamas Board as a Member At Large. She works as an Oregon Realtor® at Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty. In 2013, Laura’s son became ill, and ended up in the emergency room for observation.  Three days later, he was admitted and eventually found his way into the mental health system. While trying to navigate through this highly stressful situation, Laura was directed to NAMI for help and guidance. The struggles she has seen her son and many others go through as they travel through the current system have ignited a passion in Laura to support the mission of NAMI so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives.



Outpatient Quality Manager, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare

La’Verne Lynn Adams was born and raised in New York City to teenage parents in a Domestic Violent relationship where she witnessed the violence and was abused by her mother who also suffered from substance misuse issues. La’Verne herself was diagnosed with Major Depression and Anxiety in 1990 after being hospitalized for a suicide attempt and decided to pursue a career in mental health after her stay on the inpatient unit in which her voice and the voices of the other patients were not being heard.


La’Verne received an Associate’s degree in Community Mental Health from Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, NY, Bachelor’s degree in Liberals Arts from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA, and a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA.  La’Verne has worked as a Therapist and holds a license as a Licensed Professional Counselor before moving to the Portland/Clackamas Area in July 2018 and currently works at Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare as an Outpatient Quality Manager.



Associate Vice President - Finance at Portland Community College District

Eric Blumenthal is a financial officer, consultant, and higher education administrator who has served colleges and universities in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Oregon. He is past chair of the Pioneer Educator's Health Trust, which is an Oregon Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) providing medical, dental, vision and prescription benefits to employees and their covered dependents at seven local area colleges and universities. In addition, Eric is a site team academy member for the Council on Chiropractic Education and has served as a peer evaluator for the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.



Clackamas County Clerk



Jail Captain at Clackamas County Sheriff's Office



Social Worker specializing in Children's Services, Administration and Training



Retired Worker's Compensation Claim Adjuster at SAIF Corporation



NAMI Clackamas Volunteer Teacher, Facilitator, & Presenter