The key to our success is the incredible enthusiasm and dedication of the Playworks staff. Meet some of the people who are bringing play to Portland. Please note: Our direct school programs are led by the efforts of our program coordinators in each school in each of the cities we serve. While they are too numerous to list here, they are essential to the success of the program.
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" at the elementary age 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, CA. He completed a second year at Stege before spending 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 outdoor activities, spending time with his family and friends and enjoying good food and music.
Monica Brewer started in Playworks as a Program Coordinator for two years before making the switch to Program Associate. As a Program Associate she helps to oversee and coordinate Playworks administrative functions, advance Playworks’ goals, and manage AmeriCorps program. She is a firm believer in being a positive change in the world and has seen firsthand how recess and Playworks can make a difference. She loves to hopscotch, laugh, shoot basketballs, eat, jump-rope, run, cook, hike, and play.
Jory graduated from the University of Oregon in 2009, with a degree in Family and Human Services, and started as a Flex-Program Coordinator in 2010. Jory went on to become a Program Coordinator at Marysville School, where he successfully implemented two years of programing, focusing on youth leadership and community identity. Jory has an extensive background working in social justice organizations and political advocacy, both locally and nationally, and has received honors including University of Oregon’s Top 100 Students Centurion Award, the Dean’s Award for Service, and Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities. Jory utilizes his passion for social justice in his work with youth development and play. In his spare time, Jory enjoys playing his piano, trying new recipes and his all-time favorite hobby--Karaoke!
Portland Program Director, Tara Doherty, graduated with a degree in Finance, but found that the non-profit world and her long history of working with youth was really what inspired her. With her Playworks roots planted strongly in the Bay area, where she began as a program coordinator at Fairmont Elementary in El Cerrito, Tara has been a proud member of the Portland team since it's inception in 2009. She is continually impressed by the power of play and has experienced its impact with folks across the country; from her home state of New York to the 'Great Land' of Alaska. Tara also digs live music and will challenge you to a game of Knockout any day of the week!
Matt Ferro spent two years as an Americorps program coordinator (PC) before transitioning into the role of program manager in Portland. After starting as flex coordinator, Matt was the PC at Woodlawn Elementary in NE Portland where Ro-Sham-Bo and high fives were as common as Portland rain! Matt recently earned his M.Ed. in Elementary Education and has taught 3rd grade and Kindergarten. He is looking forward to using his experience in youth development to support the program coordinators and spread the love of safe, healthy play. A NW native, Matt loves to hike, swim, and would love to play kickball with a healthy Trailblazers team!
Molly Moran started with Playworks in 2009 as a program coordinator at Markham Elementary where she brought safe and inclusive play to recess. From 2010-2012 she worked as a program manager supervising and supporting a staff of talented coaches who worked hard to improve school climate through play. In her role as a program manager, Molly also delivered trainings to organizations and schools around the Portland and Seattle area which is what led to her current role as the Pacific Northwest trainer. Molly brings over 12 years of youth development experience as she sets out to bring play to the entire Pacific Northwest. Molly is continuously amazed at the impact Playworks has both in the schools and in the surrounding communities. As a PROUD Montana native Molly has a deep love for the mountains and spends all of her free time skiing and playing on the lake.
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.