Our Team

We each come to this work with personal stories, professional expertise, and extraordinary passion. Meet the team that makes Partnership for Safety and Justice the most impactful public safety and criminal justice reform organization in Oregon.

PSJ Staff posing at Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Andy Ko

Executive Director

Andy has been engaged in justice policy and law reform efforts for over 30 years. Prior to arriving at Partnership for Safety & Justice in 2014, he spent 15 years leading drug policy reform efforts at the Open Society Foundations, the American Civil Liberties Union, and ACLU of Washington. While in Seattle, he was founding director of the Drug Policy Reform Project, where he helped overhaul the state’s criminal sentencing scheme, develop Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), and create and implement successful strategies for marijuana policy reform and ending the War on Drugs. Earlier in his career, Andy represented homeless and low-income people at the Legal Aid Society of New York City and at Columbia Legal Services in Washington. Andy also has served on the Boards of the National Harm Reduction Coalition, Street Outreach Services, and the National Network for Justice, among others. He is a graduate of Tufts University and New York University School of Law.

Aron Klein

Operations Manager

Aron joined our team in 2018 after volunteering with Partnership for Safety and Justice for several years, starting with his first Lobby Day in 2014. He spent 10 years supporting stigmatized populations and understands that rehabilitation is possible when people have access to help, communal support, and hope for the future. Aron has worked on a variety of campaigns, including California’s marriage equality campaign. When he’s not working, you can find Aron biking, ringing handbells, or partially finishing crossword puzzles.

Babak Zolfaghari-Azar

Senior Policy Manager

Babak is a first-generation Iranian American who grew up in Beaverton, Oregon. After graduating from Portland State University with a master’s degree in criminology, he spent a decade dedicated to serving youth and families in the community, treatment centers, and correctional facilities. His lived experience with the criminal justice system drives his passion for justice, equity, and healing. Policy reform and community education, especially as it relates to Measure 11 and youth justice, are major areas of focus for Babak. Outside of social activism, Babak coaches the JV boys basketball team at West Linn High School. He spends his free time traveling the world with his wife and raising their two fur baby pups Rumi and Daisy and son Desmond Nasir.

Beth Wooten

Finance and Operations Director

Beth joined Partnership for Safety and Justice in 2023 with a background in nonprofit, campaign, and advocacy work. Prior to joining the team, Beth served as Director of Operations for the nonprofit public defense firm Multnomah Defenders, Inc. For over a decade, Beth was involved in the Girls Rock Camp movement where she organized youth programs and served as the Executive Director of Portland’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls. Throughout her career, she has supported survivors of domestic and sexual violence, starting as an advocate in her hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, and later as a legal representative at Eugene’s Lane County Legal Aid. She is a graduate of College of Charleston and the University of Oregon School of Law. In her free time, Beth enjoys hiking Forest Park, adding to her record collection, and caring for her cat Lula.

Juli Ray C. Joy

Movement Building Director

Juli Ray is a mom, survivor, and racial justice advocate who uses her voice to speak up for change. She is the founder of Black Joy Oregon, a grassroots advocacy group that promotes Black joy, female leadership development, and culture throughout Oregon. Prior to joining Partnership for Safety & Justice, Juli Ray worked in social services, mental health, and community education. She also has experience as an organizer in the labor movement, and she has served as committee chair for the Salem-Keizer NAACP. In her role at PSJ, she will continue to work tirelessly to advance racial and economic justice locally and across the state. In her off-time, you can find her performing as a singer songwriter and traveling Oregon.


Keely Nguyen

Communications Manager

Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Keely is a first-generation Vietnamese American immigrant who is passionate about uplifting the wellbeing of communities impacted by structural and direct violence. Prior to joining the Partnership for Safety and Justice, Keely interned at the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Collective, an undocumented youth-led grassroots organizations in Southern California; and Start: Empowerment, an environmental justice organization in New York City, working on social media campaigns to mobilize communities across multifaceted issues. When she is not working, she can be found exploring vegan restaurants and cafes and enjoying the diversity of food and drinks that Portland has to offer.

Michelle Madison

Development Director

Michelle joined Safety & Justice in 2022 with a background in communications, journalism, fundraising, and organizing. Most recently, she was responsible for events and outreach at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Oregon. She has been involved in corrections reform for more than two decades, and as someone with family experience within the criminal justice system, it is her life’s work to help bring reform, particularly at the intersection of mental illness and substance use disorder and law enforcement. Michelle has lived in seven states and Mexico prior to moving to Portland in 2001. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering, seeing live music, destroying weeds, and socializing her rescue cat, Oscar.

Shannon Wight

Deputy Director

Shannon has 30 years’ experience transforming criminal and juvenile justice systems in Oregon and Louisiana. As a policy advocate, strategist, and direct service provider, she’s led efforts to establish and implement many of the leading-edge public safety and criminal justice reforms of the past two decades. She co-founded the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana and served as Policy Director for Innocence Project New Orleans. In 2008, she began her role as Deputy Director at Partnership for Safety and Justice, where she sets and drives the organization’s integrated approach to reform, addressing the needs and rights of people who commit crimes, people who are victims of crime, and the families and communities of both. She is a proud single mom to a fabulous daughter and stepson.

Talia Gad

Communications Director

Talia came to Partnership for Safety & Justice in 2016. Prior to joining the team, she spent the 2015 legislative session in Salem, after which she helped develop a broad public health and equity policy platform as campaign manager in a competitive local race. Earlier in her career, Talia spent about a decade as a crisis-response advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and she spent another decade managing public health prevention education programs. She’s the grandchild of refugees, child of immigrants, and parent of a native Oregonian, all for whom she is working to build a more just and equitable world. Talia is a fan of nature walks, gluten, and the serial comma.

Interested in being part of our team?

Find us on LinkedIn to hear about employment opportunities.

Our Board of Directors

Gary and his dog Luna

Gary Cobb

Board Secretary

Gary has been involved with Partnership for Safety and Justice since our earliest days. A community organizer, social justice activist, and public speaker, Gary has been an advocate for some of our organization’s most pivotal wins. In 2022, he formed GCobb Consulting after 22 years in the nonprofit sector doing public policy work in the areas of housing, health, employment and criminal justice reform. Gary balances out his life and time by searching for sweet vintage attire, working on his motorcycle collection, and pushing his older Harley Davidsons when they break down. He practices his drum chops and washboard playing with his band Rot Iron Soul, and he is constantly learning how to be the best companion human to his soul pup Luna.

Iris Maria Chávez

Board Chair

Iris Maria is a state and national public affairs consultant who’s committed to advancing equity by supporting sound, just policies that better communities. She came to the Pacific Northwest from Washington, D.C., where she worked for over a decade in education policy, civil rights, and advocacy for organizations such as the Education Trust and the League of United Latin American Citizens. She also has extensive volunteer experience in community engagement, equity, and enriching local neighborhoods’ quality of life. Iris Maria earned a BA from Tulane University and an MA in Social Policy from the University of Chicago.

Kevin Modica

Board Member

Roberta Hunte

Board Member

Dr. Hunte is a community engaged Black feminist scholar, mother, educator, facilitator, and cultural worker. Her academic interests include sexual and reproductive justice, cultural work for social change, and how Black, Indigenous, and People of Color navigate institutions: particularly construction, maternal healthcare, and higher education. Her research-based artistic collaborations include the theater piece “My Walk Has Never Been Average” and short film “Sista in the Brotherhood,”both informed by her research with Black tradeswomen and devised theater piece entitled “We are BRAVE,” based on reproductive stories from people of color and transgender people. She is thrilled to be part of the Safety & Justice community

Terry Leckron Myers

Board Member

Terry has been a longtime justice reform champion and Partnership for Safety & Justice board member since 2006. She has led key initiatives that promote healing and safety as well as participates at the State level to ensure that there is a voice to a changing political environment. Her work includes being the Deputy Director for Mental Health addiction association of Oregon, empowering people by strengthening individuals and families affected by addiction, mental health, poverty, and homelessness. Her commitment and passion to our community as well as personal and professional background reflects a deep understanding and experience working with at risk population. She’s driven by the belief that all people deserve to live their lives with dignity and grace.

Vanessa Usui

Board Treasurer

Vanessa is an attorney and social justice advocate who joined our board in 2018. As part of the Board of Directors Executive Committee, she helps ensure that the organization’s leadership team and board members have the information, training, and opportunities necessary to advance our vision and mission. Vanessa has served as co-chair of Basic Rights Oregon, helping lead Oregon toward marriage equality in 2014. She attended Reed College and Lewis and Clark Law School, and she lives with her wife in Portland.


Yolanda Gonzalez

Board Member

Yolanda Gonzalez is a first generation Latina from the Pacific Northwest. She has over 15 years of experience in the mental health field as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is currently serving as the Senior Manager of Direct Clinical Services at Multnomah County’s Behavioral Health Division. Prior to that, she worked at Latino Network advocating and building programs for systems involved youth and their families. Through that work, Yolanda began working with Partnership for Safety and Justice. This led to collaboration on When We Tell Our Stories, a report that delved into how crime survivors of color are most harmed and least helped by the criminal justice system. She finds hope and inspiration in the resiliency she has witnessed in our community.


Jacob Bell

NW Public Affairs

Jacob is a diligent and hard-working researcher, policy analyst, and lobbyist at NW Public Affairs. He has worked for elected officials on Capitol Hill and the Oregon House of Representatives, but likes lobbying best. He thrives on bustling around the Capitol, meeting and getting to know a variety of interested parties, and the process of fine-tuning information into concise messages and reports.

His areas of expertise are strengthening mental health services, advancing policy for criminal justice reform and passing legislation to build permanent pathways for immigrants. He is currently serving as Co-Chair of the Human Services Coalition of Oregon. Learn more about Jacob here.

Maura Roche

Strategyworks Northwest

Maura and Strategies Northwest provide clients a range of services aimed at advancing policies and strengthening organizations. They are dedicated to working for causes that truly matter: protecting reproductive rights, advocating equal rights for all people, and safeguarding the environment. For more than 25 years, they have worked with some of the most effective advocacy organizations. They have been organizers, political directors, public affairs directors, lobbyists, and executive directors. They have run and won numerous state legislative and ballot measure campaigns. While winning is the point, they pride themselves on the ways they build organizational and issue capacity along the way-positioning for the next opportunity or challenge.

Learn more about Maura Roche here.

Phil Donovan

NW Public Affairs

Phil founded NW Public Affairs in 1999 and has grown it into one of the top government affairs firms in the state. In Oregon politics, Phil is known for motivating and inspiring those who work with him, bringing together diverse coalitions, his deep understanding of complex legislative and political issues, and his composure under pressure.

As the lead lobbyist and strategist at NW Public Affairs, Phil assists clients with strategic planning and leads major legislative efforts ranging from energy and tax policies to land use and capital construction. Phil has represented a number of high profile interests in the State Legislature that have led to K-12 and higher education reform, water resource development, and improvements in the delivery of health care. He has also managed winning campaigns at the local, state and federal levels.

Phil received a B.A. in Political Science with honors from the University of Oregon and was awarded the Koyl Cup, Student of the Year. Learn more about Phil here.

Get Safety and Justice in Your Inbox

Our emails share opportunities and events where changemakers are advancing the movement!