2016/2017 Staff at the Annual Gems Event, October 2016

Back, left to right: Kyra Kelly, Alexis Yalon, Sarah Cheesman, Yuki Partridge, Erin Moberg, River Aaland

Front, left to right: Verna Wise, Laura Sanchez, Abra Cooper, Celeste Kandleman, Keisha Janney, Jessica Sarontay, Anuhea Wall


Verna, Executive Director

Verna joined Ophelia’s Place in 2007. She is responsible for the financial management, marketing, personnel supervision and donor outreach. Verna has three daughters. She enjoys watching sports, keeping her self physically and mentally active, quilting and simply enjoying the outdoors. She received her MBA from Oregon State University in 1987 and her Initial Administrators License from the University of Oregon in 2002. Verna has experience in retail management, small business ownership and twelve years working with school administrators. Verna is continually impressed with the Ophelia’s Place staff’s talent, creativity, sensitivity, intelligence and ability to have fun!

You can contact Verna at or (541) 284-4333 ext. 101

Laura, Program Director and Therapist

Laura is the Program Director at Ophelia’s Place and is responsible for program leadership, clinical oversight and supervision. She is a Licensed Professional Counselorwho joined Ophelia’s Place in July 2012 after six years of working with youth and families as a therapist specializing in trauma in the state of Missouri. Laura believes in the strength and resiliency of adolescents and is committed to her role in empowering girls to use their voice to create positive change in the world in which they live. She enjoys hiking, reading, and playing volleyball, but most of her time is spent keeping up with her two, young daughters.

You can contact Laura at or (541) 284-433 ext. 102

Sarah, Development Director

Sarah_summit South sister_reducedSarah’s original connection to Ophelia’s Place was as a board member, and once hooked on the important work of OP she joined the staff as their first development director. Sarah has a background in biology, and her interest in how private support contributes to the advancement of science led her to the world of philanthropy.

Outside of work, Sarah enjoys spending time in the garden, hiking up big hills with her husband (that’s South Sister in the photo!), and hauling her young sons around on her cargo bike.

You can contact Sarah at or (541) 284-4333 ext. 107

Abra, Bilingual Office Manager

Abra joined the Ophelia’s Place Community in 2016 as the Office Manager and is responsible for many of Abra 2016the “behind the scenes” operations. She has been thrilled to become part of such a dedicated, intelligent, and philanthropic staff and organization. Prior to joining the team at OP, Abra worked for Oregon Social Learning Center as an Assessment Coordinator supporting children and teens in foster care and with 4J School District as a Special Education Teacher. She earned her MEd in Spanish and English as a second language in 2002 and her MS in Special Education in 2015.

Outside of work, Abra enjoys spending time digging in her organic garden, exploring new recipes in the kitchen, volunteering at the school where her three children attend, reading, and tending to her mini-farm of hens, ducks, dog and cat.

You can contact Abra at or (541) 284-4333 ext. 106


Sofie, Bilingual Receptionist

Sofie 2016

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Sofie worked hard and graduated from Long Beach City College medical assistant/administrative program. For the last 4-5 years, she worked in the medical field, but searched for something different and found Ophelia’s Place in 2015. Sofie loves and enjoy interacting with others and thinks that there is no better place to do that, than Ophelia’s Place. Aside from working part-time at Ophelia’s Place, Sofie is also a part-time student at Lane Community College, determined to eventually transfer to the University of Oregon.

When she is not working or in school, Sofie enjoys dancing Salsa and is currently a member of the Salsero’s Dance Company in Eugene.

You can contact Sofie at or  (541) 284-4333 ext. 106 from 3 – 6pm, Monday – Thursday.


Kyra, School Program CoordinatorKyra 2016

Kyra Kelly was one of the original employees of Ophelia’s Place when it was founded in 2005. She has served in many roles during her 11 years at OP, and is currently the School Program Coordinator. Kyra delivers trainings for school staff, parents, and students all over the state of Oregon. She has also presented at various local and national Educator conferences, particularly around topics of Girls’ Friendships and Relational Aggression.

Kyra develops and offers empowering, discussion-based presentations to co-ed elementary, middle and high school classrooms throughout Oregon. Topics include Healthy Relationships, Media, Body Image & Gender Stereotypes, Conflict Resolution, Internet Safety, Sexual Harassment, and Addressing Peer Aggression. She also delivers and coordinates OP’s school-based support groups for girls. Kyra has helped develop and refine the curriculum over the years, based on her 18 years of experience working with girls. Kyra also trains and supervises OP interns and volunteers who deliver these direct services in schools.

Kyra loves connecting with girls and the adults who support them. She also has 4 amazing nephews and strong family ties in Alaska. She believes that gender equity is a topic that requires everyone’s voice and participation. In her free time, she can often be found making art, hiking, hanging out with friends, and digging in her garden.

You can contact Kyra at or (541) 284-4333 ext. 105

River, Site CoordinatorRiver_website_reduced

River Aaland is the Site Coordinator at Ophelia’s Place, where she has worked since 2011. Prior to OP, River worked at Options Counseling Services and First Place Family Center. She has extensive background working with children, youth, and families as a case manager, advocate, and educator. River has expertise in issues of poverty, eating disorders, body positivity, anti-oppression work, youth advocacy, and girls/women’s empowerment. In addition to these topics, River trains students and professionals in self-care practices as a core component of providing quality care. She has taught at the University of Oregon for the Family and Human Services program and is on their Advisory Board. She has also been a guest teacher for the Couples and Families Counseling Master’s program at UO and Pacific University’s Master of Social Work program. River is committed to approaching every person she works with from a human-centered, compassionate, and respectful viewpoint and feels especially fortunate to be able to support adolescents in her daily work. For fun she enjoys dancing, making mixed-media art, wandering around in the woods, reading, and snuggling her little cat, Shireen.

You can contact River at or (541) 284-4333 ext. 104

Erin, Bilingual Skill-Building CoordinatorOP Photo Erin Fall 2016

Erin is a radical feminist and environmental activist committed to fighting for socio-political equity and against the destruction of the natural world. Erin is dedicated to working to dismantle institutionalized structures and means of oppression toward the end of a more just world and sustainable way of life.

Although born in Upstate NY, Erin has lived and worked in Ecuador and Mexico and is fluent in Spanish and English.  She spent the past seven years teaching courses in Spanish on Chican@, Latin@, and Latin American cultural production while completing her Ph.D. in Romance Languages.  Erin always intended to engage her academic experience and knowledge outside of academia in the local community she now calls home.  She is thrilled to collaborate with and learn from OP staff and youth in her role as Bilingual Skill-Building Coordinator.  Erin is especially passionate about ensuring access to OP on-site and school services for Spanish-speaking youth and families.

When she’s not at OP, Erin might be found cycling year-round, gathering found objects for art and garden projects, growing and cooking as much food as she can, reading or writing anywhere outside, experiencing local performance events and festivals, or listening to records in her living room.

You can contact Erin at or at 541-284-4333 ext. 113

Puede contactarse con Erin por correo electrónico o por teléfono 541-284-4333, ext. 113

Yuki, School Program Assistant

Yuki’s involvement with Ophelia’s Place began in 2012 when she worked as an intern studying Family and Human Services at the University of Oregon. She remained an intern for two years until she graduated in June, 2014 and came on-board as the School Program Assistant in September 2014. Yuki strongly believes that all girls are resilient and are capable of doing anything they set their minds to. Girls make our community a little brighter and one day they will change the world. When she’s not at work, she spends her time reading, nannying, spending time with her fiancé and his son, as well as spending massive amounts of time with her dearly beloved cat, Boots.

You can contact Yuki at or (541) 284-4333 ext. 100

Jessica, Therapist

Jessica is a fierce feminist activist as well as a therapist. Jessica demands that her feminism be intersectional and strives towardJess_reduced a radical undoing of power structures that allow violence and oppression to thrive and go unchecked. She brings this dedication to her therapy room where her approach to therapy is empowerment-based and trauma-informed. In her work at OP, Jessica is committed to ensuring that girls have access to and receive safe, non-judgmental, and unbiased support. Jessica brings with her a decade of anti-violence work experience from her past positions with Sexual Assault Support Services, the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force, and Sexual Violence Prevention and Education services at the University of Oregon.

When she’s not trying to change the world, Jessica enjoys spending time with her partner, laughing at her dogs, exploring the beauty of Oregon, eating big vegan meals, trying to find the perfect rhino tattoo, reading, thrifting, and dreaming of the ocean.

You can contact Jessica at or 541-284-4333 ext. 103

Parisa, TherapistParisa 2016

Parisa was thrilled to become a part of the Ophelia’s Place community 2014. At OP, Parisa is constantly in awe of the way teens access resilience and a sense of meaning during challenging experiences. Parisa earned her MS in Couples and Family Therapy at the University of Oregon, where she took on a narrative therapy approach that highlights the important stories teens hold about their lives. Therapy with Parisa is strengths-based and trauma-informed, and incorporates aspects of mindfulness practice.

Parisa’s prior experience and interests include serving youth with disabilities and chronic illness, facilitating an LGBTQ support group, and leading camps and after-school activities for marginalized youth. For fun, Parisa enjoys cooking experiments, creative writing, nature photography, and spending as much time as possible outdoors.

You can contact Parisa at or (541) 284-4333 ext. 111


Celeste, Communications CoordinatorCeleste 2016

Celeste joined Ophelia’s Place as a staff member in July 2015 after interning as a public relations student from 2011 – 2013 where she helped promote Ophelia’s Place programs in the Eugene/Springfield community. Celeste is passionate about and devoted to raising awareness about girls’ and women’s issues, educating the public about Ophelia’s Place services and fostering strong relationships both within and outside of the organization. One of her biggest goals is to help Ophelia’s Place receive national recognition.

Outside of OP, Celeste enjoys spending time outdoors, visiting family in Colorado, reading theories about ancient civilizations, running races and playing with her blue heeler puppy, Rocko.

Please contact Celeste for media inquiries and statements at, or (541) 284-4333 ext. 109


Alexis, Counseling and Family Therapy InternAlexis CFT 2016

Alexis is a therapist intern at Ophelia’s Place and a masters student in the Couples and Family Therapy program at the University of Oregon. Alexis has experience as a feminist activist, an educator, and a researcher interested in culturally competent menta
l health services. They are passionate about the Ophelia’s Place mission of empowerment and building on the unique strengths and talents that our girls possess. Alexis uses trauma-informed approaches to therapy and incorporates elements of mindfulness and creative arts.

In their free time, Alexis enjoys reading science fiction, exploring Oregon’s natural beauty, and crafting.

You can contact Alexis at  (541) 284-4333 ext. 110


Anuhea, Master of Social Work Intern Anuhea MSW 2016

Anuhea is a second year student in the Master of Social Work program at Pacific University’s Eugene campus. She is serving her practicum as an MSW Intern at Ophelia’s Place for the 2016-2017 school year. At OP, Anuhea is involved in both the therapy and school programs. She has a small caseload of individual therapy clients and also co-facilitates a girls empowerment group. She utilizes strengths-based and empowerment approaches to facilitate personal growth in the therapy process. She also values the person-in-environment framework because it brings needed attention to the various intersecting contexts in which each individual exists. As a social work student, Anuhea has great interest in both micro and macro level aspects of social services and one day hopes to be a program director or executive director of a place as amazing as OP.

When she isn’t in class, at practicum, doing homework, or working part time, Anuhea enjoys sleeping, playing basketball or volleyball, sharing memes, and petting every dog she crosses paths with on the street.

You can contact Anuhea at or (541) 284-4333 ext. 110


keisha, Couples and Family Therapy InternVersion 2

keisha is an intern therapist at Ophelia’s Place and an advanced graduate student at University of Oregon in the Couples and Family Therapy program.  Her passion for the last decade has been working to help young people succeed in following their dreams. Before returning to graduate school, keisha worked as the Assistant Director of Multicultural Academic Student Service at Central Michigan University and as an Inclusion Specialist at University of Oregon. As a therapist, she hopes to empower young women and to provide services that are non-judgmental, supportive, and affirming of multiple, intersecting identities.

keisha has been an Oregonian for most of her life, so in her free time, she enjoys spending time in Oregon’s vast and beautiful outdoors with her miniature schnauzer, Bella.

You can contact Keisha at (541) 284-4333 ext. 110


Rosaria P. Haugland, Founder and Benefactor

Rosaria has lived in Eugene for over 30 years but was born in Italy, one of six children. Latin, literature and exposure to opera were early inspirations for Rosaria in what would be a lifetime of learning. Rosaria was the first in her family to graduate from college, and then went on to earn advanced degrees in microbiology and biochemistry.

Merging marriage and science, Rosaria and Dick Haugland formed Molecular Probes in 1975 where their pioneering work led to the development of florescent probes which are used to label and detect cell functions and activities. During this time she raised two children. Since retiring from her work in science, Rosaria has been involved in volunteer leadership in many community organizations. Rosaria’s commitment to strong healthy girls is the foundation of Ophelia’s Place.

Help us reach our goal of $30,0000 for summer programs in 2017! 

Give during the month of May and double the power of your gift, thanks to a $15,000 challenge gift from a generous, anonymous donor!  Each donation we receive toward summer programs helps a girl enjoy an exciting summer of play and learning in camps that range from expressive arts, to computer programming, and outdoor adventures.