Youth Adult Partnership Conference

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OSBHA’s first ever Youth-Adult Partnership Conference aims to promote collaboration between youth and adults by highlighting bridge-building tools and perspectives that empower both adults and youth within community organizations to advance change that positively influences young people’s lives. The conference will be a platform to elevate youth voices and the work young people are doing with adult partners for meaningful participation in decision-making processes that impact them. Strategies and concrete skills and tools will be provided to support authentic youth-adult partnerships. 

The conference will build upon critical infrastructure established by OSBHA through programs including the OSBHA Youth Corps and its Youth Voices for Youth Health Initiative. Through these programs, we envision and seek to realize a group of empowered, diverse, and skilled youth who play a critical role in promoting youth services and relevant policies responsive to community needs. Activities will highlight the work of approximately 30 active youth leaders, ages 15-24, and provide hands-on interactive opportunities for youth and adults alike to engage in authentic youth-adult partnerships. Participants will leave with tools and information that can immediately be put into practice.   

Impact: Healthy partnerships create equitable spaces for youth and adults to work together to ensure that youth services are relevant, successful, and sustainable.  200 participants from diverse Oregon communities are anticipated.  

Dates: Thursday April 27th – Friday, April 28th, 2023   

Location: Bend, Oregon at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Conference Space  

Register here

Email for more information and questions.

Conference Speakers

Creating an Overdose Prevention PSA for Youth Audiences

Marley Foster-Wexler, Ella Hough, and Garrett Hohengarten, students at Bend Senior High School, have partnered with Deschutes County Health Services to create an overdose prevention PSA for the school district. This PSA is focused on primary prevention of drug misuse and has elements of harm reduction. It goes over the dangers of misuse, tips on disposing, and securing medication and what resources are available in the community. This presentation will explain the student’s creative process and how they become involved in the project.

Garrett Hohengarten.jpgGarrett Hohengarten, He/Him

Garrett Hohengarten is a Junior at Bend Senior High School who enjoys rock climbing, spending time with friends and eating good food. He is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program and is also a thespian on the DL.


Ella Hough.jpgElla Hough, she/her

Ella Hough is a Junior at Bend Senior High School who enjoys spending time with friends and spending time in nature. She enjoys fresh breezes that touch her facial tissue and the basking in the blistering sun as it smolders the peaks of her gentle face. In her free time she also enjoys playing basketball, going skiing, and playing rugby.


Marley Foster-Wexler.jpgMarley Foster-Wexler, they/she

Marley Foster-Wexler is a Junior at Bend Senior High School. They enjoy rock climbing and a good cup of mate. They are also a part of the International Baccalaureate program and love to go on the occasional run when feeling athletic. She also enjoys hiking and skiing. One of their favorite times of the day is golden hour, they just love the angelic glow presented by the shimmering light refracting off their face.

Heather Tang.jpgHeather Tan, She/her/hers

Heather Tang is Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS) with over 5 years of overall experience working in public health prevention and health promotion.  She moved to Central Oregon after bouncing around other western states to continue her love of rock climbing, hiking, camping and exploring the great outdoors. Heather always manages to find herself in work that engages with adolescents - from coordinating a k-6 after school program to traveling with teens to Washington D.C to meet with legislators about the risks of flavored tobacco products. Heather feels fortunate to have met Marley, Garrett and Ella – three students at BSHS who are passionate about reducing drug overdoses.


Workforce Development: Youth Training and Work Experience

The workforce training program provides youth living in Linn county with the opportunity to learn essential work skills through paid training and work experience with a local employee. Youth ages 16-24 earn $13.50 an hour for the training and $15 an hour for the work experience. The industries in which the participants choose are: manufacturing, healthcare, construction, hospitality, and/or transportation, distribution, and warehousing. This presentation will explain how youth have a voice in the training program that shapes their workforce trajectory. 

Yanci Hernandez.jpegYanci Hernandez (She/ Her/ Ella) Engagement and Capacity Building Coordinator, Casa Latinos Unidos

Yanci is originally from El Salvador and has been an Oregon resident for eleven years. She has an associate's degree in Human Services and Family Science. She is currently a transfer student at Oregon State University to pursue her Bachelor's Degree in Human Development and Family Sciences, and minoring in Psychology. She is grateful to be part of Casa Latinos Unidos (CLU) and to be able to help the Latinx community.
Yanci es originaria de El Salvador y ha sido residente de Oregón durante once años. Ella tiene un título de Asociado en Servicios Humanos y Ciencias Familiar. Ella es actualmente una estudiante de la Universidad Estatal de Oregón para obtener su Licenciatura en Desarrollo Humano y Ciencias de la Familia, y una especialización en Psicología. Está agradecida de ser parte de Casa Latinos Unidos (CLU) y poder ayudar a la comunidad Latinx.




Ricardo Contreras, PhD, Executive Director/Director Ejecutivo, Casa Latinos Unidos

Ricardo is originally from Chile and has resided in Corvallis since 2013. He has M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in applied anthropology from the University of South Florida, and a B.A. in sociocultural anthropology from the Universidad de Chile. His career has been at the intersection of applied research, activism, and teaching around topics related to Latinx communities in the United States and in communities of Mexico and Guatemala. Ricardo was the President of the organization's Board of Directors between 2018 and 2021, as well as a consultant for the organization in program evaluation, grant writing, and report writing. Ricardo teaches as an adjunct professor at Oregon State University and at the Pacific University MA in nonprofit leadership.  

Ricardo es chileno, residente en Corvallis desde el año 2013. Tiene estudios de maestría y doctorado en antropología aplicada de la University of South Florida, y una licenciatura en antropología sociocultural de la Universidad de Chile. Ricardo ha desarrollado su carrera profesional en la intersección entre investigación social aplicada, activismo, y la enseñanza universitaria, habiendo trabajado en Chile, México, Guatemala, y comunidades latinas en los Estados Unidos. Antes de asumir el cargo de director ejecutivo de Casa Latinos Unidos, Ricardo fue consultor, y presidente de la junta directiva de la misma organización por aproximadamente tres años. Ricardo también es profesor adjunto en Oregon State University y en el programa de liderazgo en organizaciones sin fines de lucro de Pacific University.

Youth En Accion


Keiri and Gustavo coordinate "Youth en Accion", an OHA Youth Advisory Project council. The presentation is about working with youth to receive input on what they encounter in their communities, with a focus on schools (and the district). Presenters will talk about recruitment, participants, outline of meetings and planning.

Keiri Lopez Rosel.jpgKeiri Lopez Rose, She/hers/ella

My name is Keiri Lopez Rosel instead of Katy Lopez Rosel because my parents thought I would grow up in Mexico, where I was born. That was true until my 3rd birthday when my dad decided to bring my mom and I to the states. Growing up I was not aware of how different the world around me was. Once I started school, that changed, I realized I had “disadvantages”. I started to notice my appearance, how I spoke, my culture, all different to my peers. I am writing this at Lafayette Elementary School in Albany Oregon, where I initially noticed these differences. The difference now is I do not think of them as “disadvantages”, I think of them as advantages. That is because my melanin protects me from the sun, I speak two different languages, and my culture is beautiful. As a Community Health Worker for Casa Latinos Unidos my goal is to tell and remind my community about their advantages.

“We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community – and this nation.” – César Chávez

Gustavo Esparza.jpgGustavo Esparza, he/him

While I was born and raised in Corvallis, and went to school at Oregon State University, I did not have a traditional U.S. born background. My parents immigrated to this country, a year prior to me being born. As I learned Spanish and English as a kid, it became my responsibility to advocate and translate for them. Looking back, I took for granted the fact that what came easy to me (and my brother) when it came to understanding and embracing American lifestyle and culture, the same wasn’t said for my parents. Sacrifices they made when coming to this country meant I had no other option but to be the best son, brother, student, friend, citizen, human being possible. I am proud to be one of the first in my (extended) family to attend and graduate college. I am equally happy to be associated with Casa Latinos Unidos and OSU’s Educational Opportunities Program. Both provide me the opportunity to support students, at the high school and college level respectively, to use their voice for good, advocate for themselves, and access resources that will maximize their time in school, on their way toward graduation and future life success. 


Building Resilience in Rural Oregon Through Youth Advocacy

This presentation explains how Eastern Oregon is advocating for youth empowerment in a variety of different ways. Greater Oregon Behavioral Health INC. (GOBHI) has a System of Care Youth and Family Leadership Committee that is working to tackle a variety of topics local to Eastern Oregon and presenters will share their how they are addressing said topics. 

Chris Barnes.jpgChristina Barnes QMHA-I, BS (She/Her) 

Chris is the Children's System of Care Manager at Greater Oregon Behavioral Health INC. (GOBHI) and Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization (EOCCO) Chris works and lives in rural Eastern Oregon and has over 15 years experience in navigating systems and barriers for the youth and families who live there; with a variety of community partners. Chris has worked serving at-risk youth and building a System of Care for 12 Counties with GOBHI/EOCCO for the past 8.5 years. This includes helping them navigate community options to help them stay at home through various higher levels of care including state hospitals. Chris has also worked to build a System of Care and bust barriers that youth and families experience within these communities. Chris has spent the past 5 years amplifying the voice of the youth of Eastern Oregon while making lasting and impactful change. Chris lives in Baker City, Or with her partner and 2 dogs. Chris has 3 children who she raised as a single mom helping them navigate through trauma and grief to adulthood. Today Chris and her family are working to provide a legacy through healthy mental health and breaking generational trauma.  

Jacque Serrano.jpgJacque Serrano, MSW, LCSW, CADC (She/Her/Hers) 

Jacque is the Mental Health Programs Administrator at Greater Oregon Behavioral Health INC. (GOBHI). Jacque has been a clinical social worker for 8 years in community mental health. She has experience working with high-risk children and their families, substance use disorders, and folks in the LGBTQ+ community. Jacque has worked in many clinical settings that have supported children, adolescents, and adults from wilderness therapy, juvenile justice, inpatient facilities to educational classrooms. Her passion is advocacy for vulnerable populations and providing competent care to the LGBTQ2S+ population. Jacque lives in Portland, Or with her wife and four-year-old daughter, but has served rural and frontier communities in Oregon for the past 7 years.

Michelle Brandsma.jpgMichelle Brandsma, MS, CADC III, MAC (she/her)

Michelle has an twenty-year history of working in the field of substance use disorders. Michelle is currently the SUD/TIC manager for GOBHI and works with SUD providers to ensure accessibility to SUD services for EOCCO members. Prior to employment at GOBHI, Michelle spent 15 years working with incarcerated men as a Program Director of in prison substance use disorder programs in both Oregon and California. Michelle is a level 3 Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC III) with certification through MHACBO, a Master Level Counselor certified with NAADAC (MAC), Masters in Psychology (MS) and working on her PhD in addiction psychology. Michelle is currently a setting board member of MHACBO, and a committee member of AMHPAC, and CSAC.

Michelle has experience working in various treatment modalities providing services to; adolescents, families, adult corrections, and drug court. Her passion is to be a part of ensuring that addiction programs provide the absolute best services available to the individuals that seek out services. 


You Don't Need to Be Cool to Be a Changemaker

Nicole will be reflecting on my 5 years working with YACs in urban and rural settings regarding what has worked well in regards to building partnership and what areas have been a challenge. The presentation will rely on data and personal anecdotes. The participants will leave the presentation with a better understanding of youth adult partnerships and, hopefully, with more confidence in their work with youth going forward.

Nicole 1.pngNicole L. Mayer, MPH (she/they), Multnomah County Student Health Centers

Nicole grew up in a rural area of the midwest where she lived in a town of 2100 people. They have 7 brothers and sisters. The identities she holds are queer femme in a hetero facing marriage, first generation college graduate, grew up poor and now new to middle class life, white with ancestors who were vikings, colonizers, and through her Puerto Rican roots they were also enslaved peoples from Africa and the Taíno people who were pushed to near extinction by the the colonizer Christopher Columbus and his men. After leaving the small town midwest Nicole lived in Chicago before taking a cross country road trip with her dog for two and half months and ended up in Portland where they are laying roots with their partner and two pups, Bear and Ryot. They are passionate about their dogs, being opinionated, chosen family, food, mental health, sexual/reproductive health education, LGBTQ+ issues, racial equity, not destroying the earth, giving adolescents all the knowledge, physical wellness, being themselves, laughing, and getting a good night's sleep.

Participatory Budgeting at Next Up: Democratically Sharing Budgeting Power

In 2022, Next Up planned and implemented our first ever participatory budgeting process - which, long story short, is a democratic process that gives people real power over real money. As an organization deeply committed to democratic decision making, it only made sense to let our base -- all young people ages 13-35 -- decide what we should do with $10,000. Come learn how participatory budgeting shares power and builds skills, while also compensating young people for their time and labor.

Devin.pngDevin Ruiz (she/her), Next Up

Devin (she/her) is a queer Latina from Los Angeles, CA, and finds revelatory opportunities in community work. Devin has an unwavering commitment to centering Black, Indigenous, people of color, low-income people, LGBTQIA individuals, and youth in their grassroots community engagement work. She obtained dual degrees in Political Science and Women’s Studies from PSU and wrote her thesis on how white supremacy is reproduced through racial grammar. When Devin is not deep in theory or YouTube, you can find her at the spa or overdressed and trying to find any and all warmth in Portland (usually in the form of community, chisme, and food).

Elona.pngElona J Wilson (she/her), Next Up
Elona (she/her) is Next Up’s Executive Director. Through her professional and community-based work, Elona has built a wealth of experience in community organizing, engagement and leadership development, policy and legislative agenda-setting, partner and coalition management, and outreach and communications. Elona comes to Next Up from the Coalition of Communities of Color where she worked as the Advocacy Director to pass impactful legislation like the abolition of post-prison supervision fees. Previously, she worked at Stand for Children, where she helped pass the historic Student Success Act. Experienced in electoral campaigns, including ballot measures and candidate endorsements, Elona has also emerged as a leader in the Reimagine Oregon project, working with Black leaders from diverse backgrounds. Elona grew up in Portland and was a first-generation college graduate, graduating from Pacific University with a degree in early education and is dedicated to ensuring that equity becomes the pillar that holds up our communities here in Oregon.

Isabela.pngIsabela Villarreal (she/her), Next Up
Isabela Villarreal (she/her) is a queer Latina youth advocate and organizer who has been with Next Up since 2018. She received a BA in Community Development from PSU and currently serves on the Board of Directors and steering committee for Participatory Budgeting Oregon. Her experience organizing in high school and subsequent work with culturally specific community organizations instilled in her the power of youth and community work to bring about social and political transformation to marginalized communities. When not at work she enjoys chasing sun spots, reading afro-futurism, and eating anything made out of potatoes (especially curly fries and ajiaco).


An Introduction to Youth-Adult Partnerships

Oregon School-Based Health Alliance (OSBHA) is known to integrate youth and adults to advocate for school health needs. In this presentation, Patti and Asia from OSBHA's Youth Programs Department will introduce youth-adult partnerships, their benefits, how to build them, and more, along with some hands-on practice and reflection on your experience with youth-adult partnerships. 

Asia Gates.jpgAsia Gates, she/her, Youth Engagement Coordinator, OSBHA

Asia is passionate about health equity, community organizing, and advocating with historically marginalized communities. With being born and raised in Southwest Portland and attending a PWI for college, she grew up in majority white dominant spaces while internally navigating her Asian American identity and she hopes to support others in finding their sense of belonging and strength. With her previous experience in nonprofits, she loves that in her role at OSBHA, she has the opportunity to work with youth in voicing their health needs and learn from them what their priorities are in bettering their wellness. During her free time, Asia loves cooking, visiting her local farmers market, and jamming out to K-pop.

Patti.JPGPatti Zavala, she/her/ella, Youth Programs Manager, OSBHA

Patti was born in Tala, Jalisco, Mexico, and moved to Canby, Oregon, with her family when she was 12 years old.  Patti brings an equity-centered, bicultural perspective to all areas of her life.  Before joining Oregon School-Based Health Alliance, Patti implemented programs, policies, and practices that ensured quality programming for youth and families in rural Clackamas County. She takes pride in her work's impact as she provided leadership, mentorship, and support to Canby area youth.

During her free time, Patti enjoys exploring the beautiful state of Oregon through hiking and photography, and traveling to different parts of the world to learn about cultures and local cuisine. Wherever she goes, she always looks forward to returning home to her favorite people-her 2 nieces and 2 nephews.


Addressing Youth Social Anxiety and Mental Health Through Dungeons & Dragons

Tricia and Mary will be sharing the experience of our new Dungeons & Dragons Social Anxiety Group at the Churchill School-Based Health Center. We will explain what led us to this opportunity based on what we've been seeing post-pandemic in the mental health of our youth. We'll review the process of running a successful campaign and the challenges

Headshot Mary Troffaes 2023.jpgMary Troffaes, She/Her pronouns, Lane County
Mary Troffaes is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who works at Lane County Behavioral Health in the Churchill High School, School-Based Health Center. She lives in Veneta, Oregon with her life partner, 3 cats and her corn snake. She enjoys anything nerdy and fun which includes playing way too much Dungeons & Dragons, dressing up for Ren Faires, and hunkering down on her couch to play cozy games on her Switch. She has worked with youth with mental and physical health needs since 2006. Due to her own experiences with Mental Health issues, she feels she has a unique understanding of the barriers and challenges that come with treating youth and children struggling with their own mental health and life challenges. She holds each student she works with in the highest regard and believes they are all doing the best they can with the resources they have been given. She hopes to help youth see their own highest potential, to help them embrace their own abilities and strengths, and to assist them in finding the strength and courage to fully invest in their own healing journey.


Headshot Tricia Schroffner 2023.jpgTricia Schroffner, She/Her pronouns, PeaceHealth
Tricia Schroffner trained as a family nurse practitioner over 20 years ago but in practice, found herself drawn to the adolescent population.She spent her first 10 years as Primary Care Provider in a teen clinic in Hartford, Connecticut and then took a role in the 4J School District’s School-Based Health Centers in 2011 in Eugene, Oregon.She currently is the medical provider at the Churchill and North Eugene Health Centers in addition to being the Youth Action Council (YAC) Coordinator.She particularly enjoys being a health partner with her patients during a time of beautiful brain development as young people establish their view of the world and how they fit into it.She also cares about the population health work that the YAC does on campus and beyond, learning how to be health advocates.Outside of work, Tricia has a husband and 3 children.She enjoys reading, traveling, and supporting the passions of her family.


Fostering Youth Leadership Opportunities for Positive LGBTQIA+ Youth Development

The Living Room (TLR) hosts a youth leadership counsel called YAC(Youth Advisory Counsel) which focuses on giving youth opportunities to engage in decision making and leadership skills engaging with the community in Clackamas county. This is an important opportunity not only because it gives youth an active voice in larger decision making processes but also allows them the emotional and social learning skills to cooperate and co work with other youth on creating events and opportunities for the youth who surround them. Creating an emphasis on engagement with one another and learning to communicate based on mutual respect and community care. Alongside positive communal aspects, it allows youth to take these skills into larger settings as they move into professional atmospheres. TLR works with youth ages 13-23 and through those transformative years, emphasize the importance of how decision making and communication can greatly affect the broader community.

Juda photo.jpegJuda Roux-Wesolik (He/They)

Juda Roux-Wesolik is a 25-year-old LGBTQ+ Youth Advocate working in Clackamas County. Since working with The Living Room, a New Avenues program, Since 2022 Juda has dedicated his career to fostering access to gender affirming resources, safe spaces and peer support in Clackamas County for LGBTQ+ youth ages 13-23. The Living Room program was born out of the need for LGBTQ2S+ Youth to share safe community spaces in Clackamas. Since then, The Living Room has been able to build and provide access to tools like our resource closet which is stocked full of gender affirming items, basic hygiene kits, school supplies and much more. Based on Juda’s lived experience as a LGBTQ+ community member, he has embarked on this wonderful path of creating safe spaces for youth to gain the tools and skills they need to continue into successful and celebrated lives outside of The Living Room.


The Power of Youth in Promoting Mental Wellness

The YouthLine Program is a youth development program that supports mental health via the YouthLine crisis, support and helpline. This presentation will discuss how youth volunteers/interns are empowered in supporting other youth both on the crisis line and through education and outreach. Training, mentoring, and collaborative consult with YouthLine staff are key to the development of strong youth adult partnerships.

CraigLeets Headshot.jpgCraig Leets, He/Him/His, Lines for Life
Craig Leets is the YouthLine Deputy Director at Lines for Life and previously spent almost a decade working in Higher Education, where he led LGBTQ+ resource centers. He has a MA in Counseling and Personnel Services and a BA in Communication. Much of Craig’s career has focused on advocating for minoritized communities and facilitating organizational development to create more welcoming environments for all people. Outside of work, Craig serves on boards for local nonprofits supporting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.


Youth Panel

Alessandra Lee Photo.jpgAlessandra Lee (She/her) Cleveland High School
OSBHA Student Health Advocate

Alessandra has always cared about social justice and how marginalized groups are disproportionately influenced by social issues, such as disparities in healthcare. Her goal is to promote better access to healthcare services and spread awareness of the importance of having access to healthcare and health-related education. She is not sure about what kind of career she wants to pursue in the future, but she would like to go to college after high school and stay involved in social justice work. Alessandra is involved in student government as the Publicity Representative for the Executive Council, and she is also a member of the Cleveland Alliance for Racial Equity. She is part of her school's theater program, as well as many clubs and affinity groups, such as AAPI, SAGA, Youth Action Council, and Pigmice. In her free time, Alessandra likes to listen to music, draw, crochet, knit, read, and watch TV shows.

Chloe Acosta Picture_0.pngChloe Acosta, OSBHA
Youth Corps Intern

Chloe Acosta is a Legislative Advocate who works as a Youth Corps Intern with Oregon School-Based Health Alliance. Her goal is to educate students on their healthcare rights, advocate for equal access to healthcare, and spread mental health awareness. Last year, Chloe worked as a Student Health Advocate with the Oregon School-Based Health Alliance and is extremely excited and thankful to be continuing her advocacy with OSBHA.
Chloe volunteers her time at a mental health crisis text line called 7Cups where she serves as a Verified Listener. She finds it extremely rewarding to be able to lend a listening ear to teens and adults currently experiencing mental health issues. Chloe has always had a passion for helping others and has known she wants to work in the healthcare field all her life. In this role, she will have the opportunity to use her voice and help others use theirs too.
Chloe aspires to be a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. She is currently attending Rogue Community College and will transfer to the Oregon Institute of Technology, in the fall of 2023. In her free time, she enjoys attending concerts, listening to podcasts, traveling, and spending time with friends, family and her cat named Sunny.

Zoey Mcknight Photo.JPGZoey Mcknight, Sam Barlow High School
OSBHA Student Health Advocate

Zoey is passionate about access to mental health care, preventative care, and advocating for health education so people can make informed consent. Being a Student Health Advocate gives Zoey a place to advocate for what they are passionate about and learn from others about their passions/experiences. Zoey hopes to have a career in social work to work with and advocate for people in marginalized communities. Zoey is part of the Gresham Youth Advisory Council, writes for the school’s newspaper, and is in the school’s book club. Zoey enjoys volunteering, doing crafts, and playing with their cat.

Charlie Staudinger.jpgCharlie Staudinger, he/him, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette Teen Council

Charlie was born and raised in Central Oregon. He came out as trans when he was 12 and have been dedicated to lessening the stigma around queer reproductive health ever since.

Jocelyn Dennis-Cook.jpgJocelyn Dennis-Cook, She/they, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette Teen Council

Jocelyn was raised by two queer women, one of which has worked for Planned Parenthood for over 20 years. Jocelyn has always been interested in some aspect of social justice. She’s very passionate about sex ed and destigmatizing a lot of aspects of sex and queer identities.




Thank-You to Our Conference Sponsors

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