Our Staff

| September 28, 2011

Meet our incredible staff of dedicated professionals, working with volunteers across the state to ensure equal rights for all!

Jeana Frazzini, Executive Director

Jeana Frazzini leads Basic Rights Oregon, a statewide non-profit committed to ensuring that all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Oregonians experience equality by building a broad and inclusive politically powerful movement, shifting public opinion, and achieving policy victories. After working for six years as the political director for the Death with Dignity National Center, she became the Development Director for Basic Rights Oregon in 2005. It took her two years to double Basic Rights Oregon’s organizational income. During that time, Basic Rights Oregon successfully lobbied the 2007 Oregon legislature to pass a comprehensive non-discrimination law and one of the nation’s most encompassing domestic partnership laws. Frazzini became the Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon in 2008. A week later, a federal judge put Oregon’s new domestic partnership law on hold. Basic Rights Oregon organized thousands of activists and hired a top attorney to enact the domestic partnership law and safeguard it against future attacks at the ballot. In addition to policy victories, Basic Rights Oregon has seen success in building a more inclusive movement and working with coalition partners. Under Frazzini’s leadership, the organization has developed a racial justice analysis, prioritized ally work, and trained activists across the state to fight for social justice for all Oregonians impacted by discrimination. Her work at Basic Rights Oregon continues a lifelong passion for fighting injustice. Growing up in rural Eastern Washington, Frazzini experienced first-hand the confusion, fear and isolation that LGBT people face in unsafe climates. In college, she worked with human rights and environmental groups, and moved to Oregon during the No on 9 campaign in 1992. In 2004, with the help of Basic Rights Oregon, she and her partner won a landmark parental rights case. In a historic ruling, the court found it unconstitutional to discriminate against families headed by same-gender couples. In 2009 Frazzini was appointed to serve as a member of the Oregon Council on Civil Rights. The council plays a critical role in ensuring proper education and enforcement of civil rights laws in Oregon.  In addition, Frazzini has previously served as a member of the advisory board for the City of Portland’s Human Rights Commission and the Committee on Discrimination based on Gender Variance & Source of Income for the Multnomah County Civil Rights Task Force. (Pronouns: She/Her)

 

 Aubrey Harrison, Deputy Director

Aubrey joined the staff of Basic Rights Oregon in 2007, when she was hired as Portland Metro Field Organizer in Basic Rights’ campaign for domestic partnerships and nondiscrimination. Since then, she has managed field for Basic Rights’ safe schools campaign, coordinated Basic Rights’ work in small towns across the state, launched the Trans Justice program, served as Program Director overseeing the Trans Justice and Racial Justice programs, coordinated internal anti-oppression organizational development throughout Basic Rights, and become a general jack-of-all-trades.  She currently acts as Deputy Director, ensuring the ongoing strength, visibility and progress of Basic Rights’ ongoing trans and racial justice work. Born and raised in Oregon, Aubrey is delighted to be part of an organization that has been such a strong force in LGBT communities and progressive politics in her home state. (Pronouns: She/Her)

Cameron Mathews, Operations Manager 

Cameron brings over five years of financial and operations management experience in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors to his role as the Operations Manager at Basic Rights Oregon.  Originally joining staff in the Summer of 2012 as the Trans Justice Fellow, he returned in August of 2013 to manage the behind the scenes financial, human resources, and operations processes.  With his Bachelors in Public Policy and Administration, soon to be Masters of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management, and his potentially unhealthy obsession with information systems,  Cameron is well equipped to ensure that all internal processes are as efficient, effective, and strategic as possible.  When not drooling over the endless possibilities of Excel spreadsheets and databases, Cameron enjoys spending time with his tiny evil dog, critically analyzing variations of the zombie apocalypse, and forming outfits around the dapper sock-suspenders his mother bought him. (Pronouns: He/Him)

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Emily McLain, Government Relations & Outreach Director  

Emily is a 5th generation Oregonian from Forest Grove and a graduate of the University of Oregon. She started working with Basic Rights Oregon in May 2013 after serving as the Executive Director of the Oregon Student Association where BRO was a coalition partner of OSA’s.  Under Emily’s leadership the Oregon Student Association set a state record by registering 50,000 students to vote. She also helped lead the coalition to pass Tuition Equity in the state legislature and passed multiple caps on tuition to keep college more affordable and accessible for all Oregonians. Emily brings with her over 7 years of experience in electoral and legislative organizing, advocacy, as well as a history of deep involvement in Oregon’s progressive coalition work. Working at OSA allowed Emily to meet Basic Rights Oregon and work with BRO to pass anti-bullying and anti-discrimination laws in the legislature.  That is when Emily realized the other really cool kids organizing in town, aside from OSA, were the awesome BRO staffers.  As such, she is honored to be on the team at Basic Rights Oregon working to ensure that all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Oregonians experience equality. Emily is deeply passionate about continually working to be an ally to the LGBT community and communities of color.  In her spare time Emily prioritizes friends, family, fútbol, frisbee, and alliteration. Emily is currently on loan is currently on loan to Oregon United for Marriage as the Political and Outreach Director. (Pronouns: She/Her)

 

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Amy Herzfeld, Political Manager

Raised in Idaho, Amy has deep roots in social justice activism. She started volunteering for LGBT rights campaigns at the age of 14 and never looked back. Amy has been active in progressive movement building in the West for over 12 years and her roles have included Executive Director of the Idaho Human Rights Education Center and Oregon State Director for Working America. Amy has also served as Board Chair for Western States Center since 2007. She’s deeply passionate about building political power for LGBT communities and centering racial and gender justice in our work. Her professional experience ranges from human rights advocacy and labor organizing to electoral management and award-winning journalism. Amy’s honored to be a part of BRO’s mission and team. (Pronouns: She/Her)

Juan Martinez, Development Director

Juan’s connection with Basic Rights Oregon goes back to 2004, when he began volunteering for the organization by serving on the annual dinner planning committee. Juan brings deep relationships in Portland’s LGBT and allied community, a passion for social change and a head for business to his work at Basic Rights Oregon. In 2005, Juan and his partner Byron Beck served as lead plaintiffs in Martinez v. Oregon, Basic Rights Oregon’s legal challenge to Constitutional Amendment 36. (Pronouns: He/Him)

Cathy Abbruzzese, Donor Outreach Coordinator

Cathy has worked directly with our supporters and volunteers since 1996. She raises over $100,000 annually in grassroots contributions, and provides a vital link between BRO supporters and the organization’s daily work. She served as a field organizer to defeat the anti-gay Measure 13 in 1994 and Measure 9 in 1992. Originally from New York City, Cathy brings over 35 years of grassroots organizing and outreach experience to BRO. As staff elder and card-carrying member of AARP, she enjoys being treated with “the right respect” and prefers the title “Goddess.” (Pronouns: She/Her)

Joe LeBlanc, Development and Communications Coordinator

Joe first joined Basic Rights Oregon as a volunteer with the Trans Justice Working Group in early 2011. Later that year, he joined the Basic Rights Oregon staff as a Trans Justice Fellow. Joe is originally from New Orleans and identifies as a Cajun Genderqueer Butch who believes in personal story-telling as a significant method for people to share experiences and solidify a better understanding about LGBTQ identities, issues and concerns. In addition to working as the Development and Communications Coordinator at Basic Rights Oregon, he also serves as the Founder and Board Member for BUTCH Voices. Joe is a recipient of the 2011 Pride in Action Award by Pride NW. He enjoys unicorns, gluten free treats, dapper fashion and endless conversations about gender and racial justice, all while basking in the ambiance of a nearby coffee shop. (Pronouns: He/Him)

 Justin Pabalate, Development Officer

Justin moved to Portland in early 2012 after spending most of his life in Eureka, California. Justin gained much of his experience as Co-Founder/Co-Chair of Humboldt Pride for over six years, CAPI Vice-President for two, volunteering for a host of other nonprofits and working in the credit union industry for over 10 years.  Hungry for a change of pace and armed with a passion for queer rights, he joined the marriage team to help win the freedom to marry in Washington.  He believes that because he benefits from various forms of privilege it is his responsibility to be visible and work towards an Oregon that is more equitable for everyone.  Justin’s lives in North Portland with his dog-like Siamese cat and loving partner Nick. (Pronouns: He/Him)

 


 

Amy Ruiz, Communications Director

Amy joined Basic Rights Oregon in 2013 after serving on former Portland Mayor Sam Adams’ staff for four years, including roles as Chief of Staff, Communications Director and LGBT community liaison. Prior to her work for Mayor Adams, Amy worked as an editor, columnist and reporter for progressive weekly newspapers for nearly a decade, covering local and state politics, including the marriage equality movements in Oregon and Washington. Originally from Minnesota, Amy escaped to the Northwest to earn a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Seattle University. She, her partner, and their toddler son live in NE Portland. Amy is currently on loan to Oregon United for Marriage as the Communications Director. (Pronouns: She/Her)

 

 tash shatz, Interim Program Director

tash loves cooking, the night sky, spoken word, and organizing. tash began working with BRO as a volunteer in 2007 through a partnership with the Oregon Student Association. After two cycles as a New Roots youth fellow, tash served as a Trans Justice Organizer and Trans Justice Program Manager, co-coordinating the Trans Justice work at BRO by collaborating with community leaders to increase access to health care, legal rights, and safety in legal custody for trans, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming folks in Oregon. As Interim Program Director, tash is honored to work every day for trans justice, racial justice, and basic rights for all. (Pronouns: They/Their or tash)

 Nico

Nico Quintana, Program Director

Nico Quintana is an Oregon raised trans, queer, Chicano, organizer, activist, trainer and policy advocate. For the past 8 years, Nico has been working in Washington, DC and has worked with the DC Trans Coalition, TransLAW, Congressional Hunger Center, Center for American Progress and on Capitol Hill with the Congressional Progress Caucus and Rep. Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey. As an organizer, Nico worked with the DC Trans Coalition on issues of trans health care, economic justice, police violence, and poverty. Nico was one of the leads of DCTCs health and economic justice campaign and organized the 2013 rally for trans health equity in DC. With TransLAW, Nico helped lead community engagement and leadership work and started the first client leadership council to ensure trans folks receiving trans legal services had power in decision making about services. As fellowship advisor for the National Hunger Fellowship Program, Nico mentored and trained youth activists committed to racial equity and anti-poverty policy work. Prior to his work with the Hunger Center, Nico was an author for the Center for American Progress Report, “On The Street: The Federal Response to Gay and Transgender Homeless Youth”. Nico is a formerly homeless queer youth with personal experience with poverty and systemic violence and is deeply committed to racial and economic equity, movement building, solidarity, leadership development and mentorship. Nico loves strawberry shakes, queer dance parties, enchiladas, showtunes, bikes, kittens, flowers, and most all vegetables. (Pronouns: He/Him)

 Danielle Danielle Askini, Policy Director

Danielle joined Basic Rights Oregon from Seattle, Washington where she was the founding executive director of Gender Justice League – a Trans* Activist Collective where she worked to repeal Trans Health Insurance exclusions in Washington, launch Trans* Pride Seattle – the largest Trans* event in the Pacific Northwest, and mobilizing to include Trans people in HIV Prevention and testing efforts in Washington State.  Danielle’s background in activism is varied both by subject matter as well as geography – for three years she served as the National Program Manager at Gay-Straight Alliance Network in San Francisco working with GSAs in over 32 states, she created the first Trans Health clinic in Seattle at Verbena Health from 2006 to 2008, and worked extensively in New England as a policy wonk and queer activist at the Center for Preventing Hate Violence, The Muskie Institute for Public Policy on behalf of other foster youth, and at Outright, Portland as a queer youth activist. Danielle also has strong roots in both Sweden and the Netherlands where she has worked as a Trans activist to increase access to Trans Health in a depathologized and decentralized way with her colleagues at RFSL.  Danielle splits her time between Portland and Seattle where her brother, sister, and partner are holed up in the last Scandinavian bastion of the Pacific Northwest – Ballard. (Pronouns: She/Her)

Kyle White, Field Manager

Kyle White joined the staff at Basic Rights Oregon in the spring of 2010. She brings over 8 years of organizing experience and has worked on campaigns and projects across the country. Kyle is a self-described organizing geek who has a deep passion for building political power and loves to WIN. She currently works on marriage equality and with the Political Action Committee working to elect pro-equality candidates to office. Kyle enjoys spending her downtime enjoying the beauty of Oregon, avoiding home improvement projects, trying to get things to grow in her backyard and breaking up fights between her two cats. Kyle is currently on loan to Oregon United for Marriage as the Operations Director. (Pronouns: She/Her)

Kathy Formella, Eugene Field Organizer

Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, Kathy adventured to the Northwest for college and fell in love with the beauty and the culture. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Willamette University. After graduating, Kathy became an intern with Basic Rights Oregon, and was later hired to work on winning the freedom to marry in Washington. She enjoys spending what little downtime she gets stargazing, hiking, bungee jumping, and the occasional (or more than occasional) karaoke session. Kathy is currently on loan to Oregon United for Marriage as the Eugene Field Organizer. (Pronouns: She/Her)

David McElhatton, Trans Justice Organizer

David McElhatton is an organizer for Basic Rights Oregon’s Trans Justice Program. David has worked with queer and trans grassroots organizations to build power since 2008. He is also a former National Organizer for Greenpeace. David loves direct action, curriculum development, and the amazing volunteers & staff he gets to work with at BRO. (Pronouns: He/Him)

Peter Dakota Molof, Trans Justice Organizer

Peter (Oglala Lakota) began volunteering with Basic Rights Oregon over two years ago with the Our Families cohort. He has worked in all three program areas, talking to legislators about trans inclusive health care, winning marriage in Washington, and working to raise the visibility of Two Spirit people. He’s (almost!) a graduate of Portland state University, focusing on Women and Gender Studies,  and has lived in Oregon his whole life. Before community organizing, he was a professional actor but now holds the title of musical theater enthusiast. Come here him belt it out in the office sometime! (Pronouns: He/Him)

John Joo, Racial Justice and Alliance Building Manager

John moved to Oregon in 1992 from South Korea with his family. He graduated from the University of Oregon where he helped push for programs and policies for under-repesented students. A volunteer of Basic Rights Oregon since 2004, his favorite part was working with Our Families cohort and campaign. He currently volunteers for Asian Pacific Islander Pride, a group for and lead by LGBTQ Asians and Pacific Islanders in Oregon. In his spare time, he enjoys reading novels, spending time with family and friends and Korean karaoke in Beaverton. (Pronouns: He/Him)

Kodey Park Bambino, Racial Justice and Alliance Building Organizer

Kodey came up to Oregon from California to attend Reed College in 2001. And when Kodey graduated, ze liked it so much that ze stayed! Kodey is very excited to be the new Racial Justice and Alliance Building Program Organizer and is delighted to work with the talented and brilliant BRO team. Kodey is passionate about social justice and believes that we are all connected. Kodey is also the astrological sign of Cancer, is a huge fan of Christina Aguilera, and tries to watch Oprah whenever possible. As you may have already noticed, Kodey uses gender neutral pronouns like “ze” and “hir,” as Kodey identifies as genderqueer/trans/3rd gendered. 

Khalil Edwards, Racial Justice and Alliance Building Organizer

Khalil was born and raised in Portland, OR. A proud member of the LGBT community here in Portland, OR, he has volunteered and supported Basic Rights Oregon and other local organizations in their efforts toward LGBTQ equality and fighting injustice for many years. His passion for education and strong belief that knowledge is power led him to become a teacher. Upon receiving his Master’s Degree from Portland State University’s Graduate Teacher Education Program in 2004, he moved to Southern California where he taught Middle School and High School English for three years. In 2007, he made his way back to Portland. Since being back in Portland, he has been involved in health equity for all Oregonians and working to improve the lives of Black LGBTQ in our community. He is excited about all the things happening around social justice in Oregon and fortunate to be a part of it. In addition to joining the team at Basic Rights Oregon, he is also the Coordinator for the Black Chapter of PFLAG Portland. An avid Robert Jordan fan and karaoke enthusiast, on his down time from work and volunteer commitments you can usually find him with a book or mic in his hands. (Pronouns: He/Him)

 

   
   

Category: About Us