Meet the Staff
Liberty Avila, Executive Director, MS, CHW
Liberty has been Executive Director at NEON since 2020, and has been with the organization since 2017. In this role she manages the strategic direction of NEON, including managing staff, partnerships, and finances in the organization. Prior to becoming director, Liberty managed the Pathways Hub program. Liberty went to high school in La Grande and completed her undergraduate studies at Eastern Oregon University with a focus on Sociology and Environmental Studies. After a few years of working in home renovation and alternative construction techniques, Liberty moved to the Midwest to pursue a Masters degree in Sustainable Systems at Slippery Rock University, focusing on Community Planning. Following her degree, she worked in community development for 7 years in Youngstown, Ohio, gaining experience in local food systems, small business development, and grant writing, as well as spearheading joint projects with the local health system. Liberty moved back to La Grande in 2017 to be closer to family, and she is excited about the potential of the program to address social determinants of health in rural areas.
Lisa Ladendorff, Development and Training Program Director, LCSW, CHW
Lisa is the founder of NEON and served as the Executive Director from its inception in 2004 until 2017, when she stepped back from that role to expand the business development and training programs. She has a 28-year history of clinical practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, specializing in the dynamics of behavior change, including health behavior change, and has served as a local public health administrator for four years. In addition to serving as NEON's director, she has trained, mentored, and supervised public health and community mental health leadership staff for over 24 years. As part of NEON's Consulting Services Program, Lisa provides organizational consulting, grant writing and management, program evaluation, and technical assistance services to health oriented organizations, both in the region and the greater Western United States. She has presented at both the state and national levels on Network Development and Sustainability, Rural Community Health Assessments, and Community Health Workers in Rural Settings. Lisa spent 24 years of her career working in a self-directed team environment, has a long history of effective collaboration, and has experience as a member of a team CEO model. She has lead two software customization teams that provided public health and behavioral health content design. She has 24 years of Quality Assurance/Quality Improvement work in public health/mental health, as well as experience and training in program evaluation and data analysis. She has experience in community health assessment, health systems planning, and grant writing and management, having obtained and successfully managed over $10 million in grant funding. Lisa is a certified Community Health Worker and CHW Trainer. She is a graduate of both the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice Leadership Institute and the UCLA Anderson School of Management Health Care Executive Summer Intensive Training Program.
Connie Sherrard, Training Manager, MSW, CHW
Connie started at NEON in September 2018. She supports our training and consulting efforts by developing and delivering trainings and helping out in NEON's Consulting Program. Connie grew up in Chicago and attended Beloit College in Wisconsin, where she received her certification in Elementary Education and BA in Studio Art. She worked in child care in Portland and then entered the Peace Corps. Following a 2-year stint in Ecuador and some time traveling around South America, she returned to Portland and completed her MSW at Portland State. Before coming to NEON she worked at Community Action Organization in Washington County (OR), the Vancouver (WA) Housing Authority, and the Vancouver Public Schools. Her work has focused on increasing opportunities and access to services for families and children. After two decades of annual visits to Northeast Oregon to camp and hike, Connie made the leap to move to La Grande in 2017. She spends her time knitting, baking, hiking, and doing pottery.
Kinda Cable, Training Program Project Manager, BS, CHW
Kinda is NEON’s Training Program Project Manager, a position that coordinates activities of our training program, assists in registration and scholarships, data collection, and works within the NEON training team. Kinda is local to the La Grande area having grown up in Union. She moved away for several years living in Georgia, Texas, and Wyoming, and moved back to La Grande in 2008. As a single mom she worked part time and studied at Westwood College online where she earned her BS in Visual Communications. She has experience in workflow optimization, administrative support, data organization, and design. Kinda is new to the NEON team and is excited to learn more about nonprofit work and help serve her community. In her free time, Kinda enjoys hiking, camping, baking, spending time with her family, and gaming.
Holly Sorensen, Outreach Programs Manager, CHW, EOLD
Holly is the Outreach Programs Manager, a position that oversees the Outreach, Enrollment, and Coverage Eduation Program at NEON. She graduated from Eastern Oregon University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Music and summa cum laude honors. Shortly after, she joined the NEON team and became a state certified Community Health Worker. Holly is also a trained End of Life Doula and is passionate about supporting rural communities in promoting and building death literacy. In her role, Holly provides supervision and support to NEON outreach staff and works directly with community members that are applying for or managing existing health coverage with the Oregon Health Plan and the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace. She also supports the NEON training program with development and facilitation of in-person and online trainings and provides grant evaluation for NEON partners. Holly spends her personal time on various music projects, live performances, traveling, and adoring her cats.
Stephanie VanLeuven, Community Umbrella Program Manager, BS, CHW
Stephanie is NEON's Community Umbrella Program Manager, a position that provides support to community projects and forming nonprofit organizations by adopting them under NEONs umbrella and providing fiscal management, insurance, and organizational mentorship to help them reach their goals. Stephanie is local to Eastern Oregon and knows the community well. She studied Community Health Education at Portland State University where she received her Bachelor of Science degree. After graduating from college, she supported grassroots efforts, started a career at a women’s health clinic and dermatology clinic, and eventually moved on to working seasonally in South Central Alaska. Once she moved home after 8 years away from Eastern Oregon, she became an advocate for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors in Union County. She then held her first position at NEON in 2020 as the Pathways Community Hub Coordinator, a position that provides support to Community Health Workers across the NEON region. She spends most of her time enjoying anything outside with her spouse and dog Lenny, including whitewater rafting, backpacking, camping, mountain biking, and adoring the wildflowers. She is very excited to expand her career and passion by putting her education to work to serve her community.
Debra Smith, Operations Coordinator
NEON's Operations Coordinator Debra Smith, is a 10-year resident of Cove, OR. She attended Eastern Oregon University and graduated in 2015 with a Bachelors in Business Administration, with a dual concentration of International Business and Marketing. When not working or studying, she tries to find time for volunteer work, especially at the local animal shelter. Debra became NEON's Operations Coordinator after working for a year as NEON's Fiscal/Office Assistant. As the Operations Coordinator, she provides office and technical support to staff members, performs the bookkeeping duties, manages vendor contracts, handles NEON's accounts payable and receivables, and various other functions. As head of NEON's small Marketing Committee, Debra tries to find ways for NEON to use Social Media "Guerilla Techniques", to help conserve resources for outreach and other programs. Debra handles most of the smaller community donation requests: funds that NEON uses for training supplies or outreach giveaway items.
Cami Miller, Training Coordinator, PSS, CHW
Cami Miller started in 2023 as the Training Coordinator. She was trained by NEON as a CHW in 2017, using those skills working with folks experiencing houselessness. She continued on a Traditional Health Work theme becoming and working as a certified recovery mentor with substance use, and as a mental health peer support person. She is thrilled to be back where her ardor for traditional health work began. Cami is a long-time Eastern Oregon local. As a teenager and young adult, she struggled with substance use and continued that rocky path until finding 12 step recovery in 2011, that quite literally saved her life. She began working with NEON in 2016 on projects such as the Union County Warming Station, Housing Matters, CHARM, Trauma Informed Coalition, community health assessments, training curriculum and more. Cami strives to use her personal and professional experience in her work and it is her lived experience with addiction, recovery, parenting, mental health and social service navigation that motivates her passion for Traditional Health Work. It is her goal to continue to advocate for others, break stigmas, and create a better world.
Teresa Aguilera, Community Health Program Manager, CHW
Teresa is NEON's Bilingual Outreach and Enrollment Specialist that serves community members in both English and Spanish. She began with NEON in January 2018, with the focus of putting her education and experience to use in our local community. Although Teresa has worked and volunteered in the public school system for over 20 years, her passion and focus is on reaching out to community members and connecting those in need with helpful resources. Her previous position as a Migrant Recruiter created a desire to reduce barriers and promote a more equitable healthcare environment for the underserved populations in our area in an outreach capacity. Teresa graduated from Blue Mountain Community College in 2009 with an Associate of Arts Transfer, from Eastern Oregon University in 2019 with a Bachelor's degree in Sociology/Anthropology with an emphasis in Social Welfare and a minor in Spanish. She is a state certified Community Health Worker and continues her education through trainings and workshops. She is committed to connecting our community to local resources and services. Teresa is a resident of La Grande and has lived in Union County for over 25 years. When she is not working or volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her family.
Lauren Babcock, Opioid Response Program Coordinator, CHW
Lauren is NEON's Opioid Response Program Coordinator, a position that coordinates and monitors activities for the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) grant project. Lauren grew up in La Grande and moved back home after eight years away. In that time, she road-tripped across the country, served in AmeriCorps, and lived on an old yacht on the Fremont Canal in Seattle. Lauren studied Planning, Public Policy, and Management at the University of Oregon with a focus in Nonprofit Administration. She has completed internships in nonprofit communications, development, fundraising, and grant writing, and was a Provost's Student Innovation Fellow. She has previous experience in project management and strategic planning and is the creator of the Eugene-based event, the Survivor Speakout - a platform for people who have been trafficked to tell their stories. She is excited to expand her nonprofit experience to rural populations and serve her hometown community. When not working or volunteering, Lauren enjoys hiking, baking, reading, and spending time with her family.
Emily Hurd, Pathways Community Hub Coordinator
Emily grew up in Western Washington just outside Mount Rainier National Park. She moved to Ukiah, Oregon in 2015 to work for the Forest Service and fell in love with Eastern Oregon. She then transferred to EOU in 2016. While attending EOU, she continued to work seasonally in Oregon and Montana. In 2019, she accepted a position as an advocate working with survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in Union County. She then moved into a position with another local Non-profit providing Energy Assistance to low-income households throughout Baker, Grant, Union, and Wallowa Counties. In 2021, she completed her Bachelors in Anthropology/Sociology with an emphasis in Social Welfare. In her free time, Emily enjoys hanging out with her spouse and dog, doing craft projects, cooking, going on walks, and weekend adventures.
Femika Jacklick, Outreach Specialist and Marshallese Interpreter, CHW
Femika joined NEON during 2021 as the Outreach Specialist and Marshallese Interpreter. In this role, she works full-time at NEON providing healthcare interpreter services for Marshallese community members at both NEON and Grande Ronde Hospital and Clinics, and she conducts outreach to the community to provide information about services. Femika is a certified healthcare interpreter and is very passionate about helping members of the community connect with local resources. She has translated for Marshallese community members in many settings including but not limited to public health, court, and medical appointments. She is excited to continue serving the community in her new role. Femika came to La Grande in 1998 from Hawaii where she lived for a year and she is originally from the Marshall Islands. When she isn’t working or helping community members, she likes to spend her time sewing, baking, camping, spending time with her family and helping at her church.
Vixen Radford-Wecks, Outreach and Enrollment Specialist, CHW
Vixen started working for NEON in 2009 as a part-time employee in the Covering Kids and Families program. She worked closely with local families, helping them to obtain health coverage and address prescription needs. In 2013 Vixen became a state-certified Community Health Worker and CHW trainer. In this role, she guides and empowers community members to access the resources available to them and enables them to advocate for themselves. With valuable experience in the community, organizing skills, and extensive knowledge of available services, Vixen has become a full-time staff leader at NEON. Vixen has served as a Living Well with Chronic Conditions leader, certified Child Passenger Safety Seat Inspector, and Tai-Chi for Better Balance instructor. Vixen was born and raised in Wallowa County in Eastern Oregon. Growing up in this region has afforded her the unique opportunities that have shaped her love of ranching and an equestrian lifestyle. She grew up in the ranching industry, participating in 4H and FFA and always aiming to serve her community. She has represented Wallowa County as Chief Joseph Days Queen and served on the 4H court. Currently she volunteers as a 4H horse leader and director of Mountain High Brocks & Bulls and MHBB drill team coach. Vixen attended Linn Benton Community College and earned her Applied Associate's degree in Horse Management, with a focus on children and sociology. After graduating with top honors, she returned home to start her own business in the horse industry. She has coached young women to the level of Miss Rodeo Oregon and Miss Rodeo America titles, provided clinics around the Pacific Northwest for all levels of horsemanship, and served as a professional judge for shows. Empowerment is her focus and she uses her horses and experience to help people build self-worth. In addition to her business, Vixen has supported her community by working for many years in social services. She has been the program director for the Boys and Girls Club, Wallowa Valley Together Project, Traffic Safety Specialist, and worked for the Community Connection of Northeast Oregon Energy Assistance program. Vixen loves serving her community in the work she does as well as her volunteer roles. She finds happiness in helping others.
Laura Ayala, Outreach and Enrollment Specialist
Laura grew up in Irrigon, OR for the first 18 years of her life. Although she lived in Irrigon, she attended and graduated from Ione Community Charter School. She then moved to La Grande and attended Eastern Oregon University (EOU) from 2019-2023. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science--majoring in Communications and minoring in Sociology. She has gained experience from assisting in Human Resources to Marketing for local small businesses in Eastern Oregon. Though, she strives to use her platform to educate individuals about oppression, discrimination, privilege and other social justice issues, and try to combat these issues on a personal level. She is excited to begin her role with NEON. On her free time, she loves spending time with her scraggly dog, Beans. They often go for walks, drives or play fetch in their backyard. She loves watching movies, cooking and the occasional run for ice cream.
Maggie Mayhem, Union County Warming Station Program Lead, CHW
Maggie is the Union County Warming Station Program Lead. She grew up with hard working parents and four siblings in rural eastern Iowa. After high school, life events led to her on-and-off experience of houselessness and broader hardships out of her control. During those challenging times, Maggie still managed to obtain her Associates Degree in Environmental Science, traveled the country, hiked the Appalachian and the Pacific Crest Trail, and eventually landed back in La Grande. Her resiliency, and loving friends helped her overcome life’s obstacles, allowing her to pursue her passion for helping others. Starting as a volunteer at the Union County Warming Station, she became the board co-chair, and most recently an employee at NEON for the Warming Station and daytime Resource Center. Leading by example, she uses her lived experience to educate others to dismantle stigmas. Now she’s addicted to coffee and hiking with her dogs. NEON is helping to broaden her grant writing skills, expand community relationships, and serve our most vulnerable community members.
Doug Whipple, Warming Station Housing Services Coordinator, CHW
Doug is the Housing Services Coordinator at the Union County Warming Station. He had lived in eight different states before high school. That “vagabond” lifestyle led to a very colorful life of criminality, addiction, and homelessness. As life came full circle his focus shifted to helping people in situations that he had overcome. He has worked as an A&D counselor at Powder River Correctional Facility for 4 1/2 years, and provided counseling at an outpatient facility in LaGrande for 5 years. During his time at the outpatient facility, Doug had the privilege of launching and supervising two recovery living houses, one for men and one for women. Showing those on the fringes of society, no matter their living situation, that they are wanted, valued, needed, and loved is his passion. Doug now lives with his two daughters, wife and mother-in-law and is a dedicated family man. He spends most of his time at his daughter’s sporting events or enjoying the outdoors with his family. NEON provides Doug with the ability to help a population that is in desperate need as well as develop relationships with a variety of community partners.
Edna Murrieta, DEI and Training Program Coordinator, MS.ED, CHW
Edna holds a BS in Public Administration from California State University, Chico and a Masters in Higher Education and Administration from Southern Illinois, Carbondale. Edna is new to the NEON team where she will help deliver training to Community Health Workers and other front-line staff in health, behavioral health and other organizations addressing health, equity, and social determinants of health. Additionally, she will be helping with COVID response efforts. Prior to joining NEON, Edna worked within Higher Education as an Area Coordinator and served marginalized student populations at Eastern Oregon University. During her time at Eastern Oregon University Edna served on multiple committees evaluating equity, diversity, and inclusion in the many sections. During her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her kitty Guinness, thrifting, creating art, and drinking coffee. Edna is excited to serve her community and expand her knowledge and education.
Fernando Morales, Community Health Program Coordinator, CHW
Originally from Hood River, Fernando moved to La Grande in 2006 to attend EOU and received his baccalaureate in Business Administration. After living in La Grande for 11 years, he and his family made a brief move to Portland. There, he worked at a nonprofit organization that creates jobs for individuals with disabilities and managed their work based on physical or mental barriers. Fernando looks forward to bringing his experiences, personal and professional, to NEON and do his part to help in achieving the organizational goals for our community. On his free time, Fernando enjoys spending time with his family and friends, as well as running and being physically active.
Alynn Lambert, Outreach and Wraparound Associate, CHW
Alynn is originally from the Federated States of Micronesia. She moved to La Grande, Oregon in 2009 to attend EOU and graduated in 2013. She moved back to Pohnpei, Micronesia right after graduation and worked as the National Food Analyst for the Department of Health Services for two and half years. She moved back to La Grande in 2016 and pursued a Master’s degree in Public Health through Creighton University’s Online Program. She completed her degree’s requirement in 2020. Alynn started working at NEON in 2020 carrying out COVID Response work. She mainly assists with Wraparound support and contact tracing. Alynn is someone that’s always looked after others and always want to help people. She is passionate about helping her community members and bringing a positive change into the lives of people she crosses paths with. She loves spending time with her family and being outdoors.