Executive Director Jonathan Blasher is originally from Eugene, Oregon and has always enjoyed giving back to the community. Motivated by making a positive difference in the world, Blasher was attracted to Playworks with the idea of working with potentially "at-risk youth" in elementary school and providing positive guidance before their teenage years. He started with the organization in 2004 as an AmeriCorps program coordinator at Stege Elementary in Richmond, California. He completed a second year at Stege, then spent two years as a program manager and one year as a program director in the Bay Area before returning to his home state. When he's not using play as a vehicle for social change in schools and local communities, he enjoys participating in outdoor activities, spending time with his family and friends, and enjoying good food and music.
Playworks for every kid
Staff and Leadership
Doran joined Playworks in 2009, our inaugural year in Portland. She is a native Oregonian and has spent her professional career in northern California and Oregon where she worked with children and adults in a variety of school based and non-profit settings dedicated to building community. She is committed to supporting children build self-esteem, gain leadership and conflict resolution skills and live healthier more productive lives through the way they naturally learn, play. Her favorite game? A toss up between tether ball, foursquare and put a bird on it.
Sarah embarked on the Oregon trail in early fall 2014 to join the Playworks team and continue her personal and career goal of promoting healthy play and improved quality of life for youth. After previously having started an AmeriCorps program in Kansas, she brings not only experience working with youth, but also a background in program development, expansion, and evaluation. Sarah has done team-building exercises and healthy play activities with groups ranging in age from kindergarten to adults, and coached cross country and track for several years at the high school level. She works hard, but plays hard and enjoys hiking, mountain-biking, carpentry, running and committing random acts of kindness.
A Northwest native, Program Director Asia Wisecarver Payton joined to Playworks in 2015. She graduated from Stevenson High School in Southwest Washington in 2000 and attended Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon where she received a degree in Psychology in 2004. Her latest educational journey resulted in an MBA in Nonprofit Management from the University of Portland in 2014. Asia was drawn to Playworks because of the alignment between Playworks' mission and values and her personal values. It blends a love of sports and activities with her values of inspiring hope, creating positive environments in which youth thrive, and being a part of an organization whose mission increases the overall health and well-being of our community. Prior to Playworks, her professional experience includes drug and alcohol prevention, youth outreach and case management, residential treatment, and youth mentoring (where she spent the last 11 years). Asia and her partner’s moto: live with intention, have integrity, and choose compassion. Asia loves music, sports, her pets, cooking, and kayaking, as well as spending time doing home improvement projects with her spouse.
Prior to joining Playworks, Rachel lived in and worked in Asia for eight years where she used play and sport to help children in disadvantaged communities. She has seen first-hand how the power of play can effect positive change in individuals, schools, and communities. With a diverse background in partnership development, non-profit management, and law, Rachel brings a unique mix of experience to her role as regional partnership director. Playing outside is Rachel’s passion and in her free time, you can usually find her kayaking, climbing, or tossing a frisbee around.
Jo Doyle is thrilled to be back at Playworks as a national trainer after working as a manager and director of youth programs with a couple of nonprofits in San Francisco since 2008. Jo's passion for youth development continues to grow as does her love of facilitating programs, delivering presentations, and public speaking. She is proud of her work with community based organizations that serve disadvantaged youth and positively impact the children of San Francisco and the Bay Area. She continues to be inspired and driven by the adult learners she meets and works with.
Jo truly believes in teaching life lessons through sports and play. Her love for travel, her ability to connect with adult learners, and her ongoing efforts to make a positive difference in a youth's life make her an outstanding trainer. When she's not leading an awesome Playworks workshop, Jo loves to snowboard, eat pizza at her home in New York, and experience new cultures and new people in her travels around the world. Play on!
Wes joined Playworks in 2012 and spent two years as program coordinator at Beach School in North Portland. Wes hopes to continue to inspire positive, playful communities in the schools he serves, with a sincere interest in the emotional well being of his students. Wes loves all sorts of games and is always down to learn something new, especially if it requires deep thinking and strategy. Originally from Northern California, Wes moved to Oregon for the friendly people, diverse food options, and abundant backpacking trails. Wherever he resides, Wes feels most at home when surrounded by his wonderfully talented wife, their stubborn cats, and enormously jovial dog.
Tami joined Playworks in 2012 as a program coordinator for two years at Brookwood Elementary School in Hillsboro. Tami earned her degree at Oregon State University in Human Development Family Science with a minor in Sociology. If you catch her out at recess, you will usually find her in an intense game of foursquare or wall ball. When she is not out playing games you will find her traveling for quick trips to the coast, enjoying a Barre3 class, or finding a new hiking trail. Tami is excited to use her knowledge for running program to help other coaches make a positive impact on their school communities.
Karen was born and raised in Metro Detroit and holds a bachelor’s degree in art and business. Shortly after graduating, Karen moved to Seoul, South Korea to teach English. While teaching, she played kai-bai-boh (ro-sham-bo) with kids. Her experience in South Korea sparked her interest in working with youth. Karen joined Playworks in 2012, working as a program coordinator in Detroit for a year and half before moving to the Pacific Northwest to pilot Playworks new program TeamUp in four elementary schools in Vancouver, Washington. After bringing healthy play and healthy community to over 1,800 students with TeamUp, Karen is excited to bring her coaching experience to the program manager role. When she's not on the playground, Karen enjoys traveling, art, listening to and creating music, and being with friends, family, and her pets.
Kati joined Playworks in 2015 as a program coordinator at Reedville Elementary School in Hillsboro. Kati was born and raised on the central coast of California. She began her journey in Oregon in 2012 when she began school at Pacific University. Kati holds a bachelor's degree in Public Health and a minor in Sociology. Shortly after graduating, Kati became a preschool teacher, which sparked her interest in working with youth. She loves all sorts of games, but when you see her on the playground, you will likely find her in a game of bump all-star. When Kati is not on the playground, she enjoys hiking, running, watching any sport (mostly football), and spending time with her friends and family. She is excited to bring her enthusiasm and passion for youth to her program manager role.
Ruby joined Playworks as a program coordinator in 2009 promoting positive recess culture for several different schools in Portland area. As a site coordinator, Ruby is excited to bring positive play to many school communities in the Pacific Northwest.
Ruby grew up in Portland and attended Cascade College where she studied Psychology and Sociology. She played several sports in college including basketball and track. In 2005, Ruby coached basketball at Blue Mountain Community College for two years before returning to Portland and working with the YMCA. Her favorite Playworks core value is healthy community, because she believes that if individuals contribute to a healthy community all the core values (respect, healthy play, inclusion, and healthy community) will be displayed.
Jackie joined Playworks as a program coordinator in 2015 at Martin Luther King Elementary School. As a site coordinator, Jackie is ready to bring positive recess culture to many school communities in the Pacific Northwest.
Jackie was raised in the Portland Metro area and attended Warner Pacific College where she studied Human Development and Family Studies. She was a collegiate athlete all 4 years for basketball. Throughout college she continued to coach all sports for THPRD and Portland Parks and Recreation. Her favorite Playworks core value is healthy play, because she believes that all individuals need healthy play to bring out all the core values (respect, healthy play, inclusion, and healthy community). She is so excited to bring her flavor and passion to all aspects of her work here at Playworks.
Tim joined Playworks in 2014 and spent two years as program coordinator at Gilbert Park Elementary in Southeast Portland. As a site coordinator, Tim aims to create a respectful, positive, high-energy community at the schools he serves. He is known to bring a creative and passionate approach to his work.
Tim grew up in Bend, Oregon where he found a passion for running, swimming, and hiking. His favorite games include foursquare, capture the flag, and anything that involves dancing. He has lived in North Carolina and Kenya, and loves finding new places to explore. When Tim isn’t playing games, he can be found drawing cartoons, playing music around town, and continuing his quest to find the best ramen in Portland.