Our Board and Staff

United Way of Southwestern Oregon’s Board represents a range of sectors including government agencies, law, small business owners and employees, financial institutions, nonprofit organizations, and independent community advocacy. Our Board and staff collectively participate in more than 50 Coos/Curry County Boards, committees, and local initiatives. These diverse perspectives and wide networks help to shape our community-driven strategies, priorities, and programs. Read more about our team below!

sara

Sara Stevens, Chair Executive Director, South Coast Regional Early Learning Hub

Why you were drawn to serve on the UW board?
I believe United Way agencies have the opportunity to mobilize communities to solve large social issues.

One of your favorite things?
My favorite thing is being with my family outside.

Two fun facts about you?
I hiked from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian trail in 2005, I have a yellow lab named Oscar.

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Jamar Ruff, Vice Chair – Outreach Coordinator, Coos Head Food Co-Op

Why you were drawn to serve on the UW board?
I love helping others and I love how the United Way’s main focus is to promote togetherness in our community.

One of your favorite things?
My favorite food is peach cobbler.

Two fun facts about you?
I am a huge fan of the musical Rent. I make the best mac ‘n cheese ever!

heather

Heather Casas, Treasurer –  Store Manager, Umpqua Bank North Bend

Why you were drawn to serve on the UW board?
I was drawn to United Way because of how it helps our local community. It also gives me a lot of opportunity to get out into the community and get involved with volunteering.

One of your favorite things?
My favorite vacation spot is Mexico.

Two fun facts about you?
I love to read in my spare time, I grew up in Grants Pass OR and have lived in the Coos Bay/North Bend area for 10 years.

Ryan

Ryan Wortman, Secretary – Planning Technician, City of North Bend

Why you were drawn to serve on the UW board?
Volunteering is very important to me and the United Way is an essential component to the progression of our community. My hope is to provide a local government perspective while serving on the board.

One of your favorite things?
I love to travel, preferably international backpacking.

Two fun facts about you?
I have a Blue Healer/Aussie mix named Clementine and a kitten named Asa. I randomly drove the Country for over a month, until I settled in Coos Bay. I am proud to call the Coos Bay Area home almost five years later.

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Karlee Cottrell – Interim Director, Common Ground Mediation

Why were you drawn to serve on the UW board?
I wanted to serve on the United Way of Southwestern Oregon board because I believe in a healthy and capable community and I feel the work UWSWO does will help get us there.

One of your favorite things?
Having the time on a sunny afternoon to just sit and read a book outside.

Two fun facts about you?
I live for weekend road trips and I’m allergic to emu oil!

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Stephanie Hadley  – Owner/Partner, Yak Social

Why you were drawn to serve on the UW board?
Our Yak Pack volunteered with United Way through the Day of Caring and had an instant connection with the organization. Community is important in order for people to lift each other up and allow people to thrive. I love the idea of being a part of a team that will significantly impact the landscape of our community in the upcoming years.

One of your favorite things?
Anything outside – especially beach hikes with my pup Betty!

Two fun facts about you?
My mom and I have the same birthday and I love to travel for concerts!

anna

Anna Huit
Why you were drawn to serve on the UW board?
I believe in our community and could see an opportunity to have a greater impact on our community.

One of your favorite things?
My favorite song is Landslide by Fleetwood Mac.

Two fun facts about you?
I am happiest with a fishing pole in my hand. I have 4 boys.

justin

Justin Miller  – Branch Manager, Oregon Pacific Bank

Why you were drawn to serve on the UW board?
My first encounter with United Way was through the Day of Caring and I loved helping the elderly and giving back to the community, also the United Way helped my daughter start a Day of Caring in Myrtle Point. A couple of my co-workers were previous board members and I wanted to serve because of how the United Way contributes to many different organizations.

One of your favorite things?
Besides my family, I’m an avid sports fan, mainly football and basketball, I still play basketball a couple days a week.

Two fun facts about you?
I collect Nike/Jordan shoes I have way over 100 pairs, and I’ve been on vacation to Disneyland around 25 times.

nina

Nina Nolan – Associate Attorney, Law Office of Margaret K Melvin

Why you were drawn to serve on the UW board?
I feel called to help others, and see serving on the United Way Board as a way to help those in our community who need it most.

One of your favorite things?
Collecting and taking care of my house plants!

Two fun facts about you?
I’m obsessed with Star Wars—I have a Princess Leia tattoo and my dog is named Obi-Wan Kenobi. Also, I have knitted 3 sweaters!

joe

Joe Paulet – Producer, Neptune Birch

Why you were drawn to serve on the UW board?
I was drawn to the board of United Way of Southwestern Oregon for many reasons, but mainly I believe in the mission and values that United Way embodies in our community. United Way is a corner stone of service organizations locally, and I want to help build resilience and prosperity in Southwestern Oregon.

One of your favorite things?
I’d have to say one of my favorite things is watching my dog play along the beach.

Two fun facts about you?
Years ago I worked on Portlandia the TV show, and my favorite holiday is Halloween.

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Jen Shafer, Executive Director
Why do you work for United Way of Southwestern Oregon?
I appreciate the breadth of organizations UWSWO supports through our mission of improving the health, education, and financial stability of all residents of Coos and Curry Counties. I also have a passion for bringing community leaders together to solve complex challenges, and our collective impact work allows me to do just this.

One of your favorite things?
I could easily spend hours in the garden – weeding is one of my favorite garden tasks!

Two fun facts about you?
I have visited all seven continents and my partner and I spent 3.5 years traveling internationally and around the Pacific Northwest prior to relocating to Coos Bay in 2016. And like Jamar, I am also a huge fan of the musical Rent!

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Beth Barker-Hidalgo, Curry Community Impact Manager
Why do you work for United Way of Southwestern Oregon?
I work for my community.  UWSWO happens to work for community as well – it’s a great fit and a win/win for all concerned.

One of your favorite things?
Blueberries (or non-food, camping, fishing, hiking….)

Two fun facts about you?
I have two beautiful grand daughters whom I love with all my heart – they are not local so I don’t get to see them very often. Thank goodness for social media & smart phones. I am a New Englander, born in Vermont, raised bi-coastal in CA and Massachusetts. I was fortunate to have a great deal more exposure to varying cultures and experiences than most of the kids I grew up with.

Bonnie

Bonnie Ell, Every Child Curry County Program Director
Why do you work for United Way of Southwestern Oregon?
As the Program Director of Every Child Curry County, I love the intentionality that UWSWO has to work toward collect impact to best serve the Southern Oregon coast communities at large, including those often left in the margins, such as children in foster care.

One of your favorite things?
Watching the full moon rise while sitting around a campfire with family & friends.

Two fun facts about you?
I grew up in Montana- didn’t see the ocean until I was 17! I co-led a Bike Amsterdam to Paris tour with Venture Europe in 2006, leading a dozen high schoolers through the back roads of Europe…it was a wild ride!

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Melissa Hart, Every Child Coos County Program Director
Why do you work for United Way of Southwestern Oregon?
I have always been passionate about social justice & volunteer work and believe in the power of community mobilizing to make a better world.

One of your favorite things?
I love being outside hiking with my dog Major Payne.

Two fun facts about you?
During college, I spent 4 months studying abroad in Oxford, England and I LOVE musicals!