Home / Staff
SARAH MAHNKE, MSW
Sarah is the founder and Executive Director of Thrive Central Oregon. She has worked in social services in Central Oregon for the last 15 years, finding incredible fulfillment in connecting people to the resources they are seeking. Sarah has called Central Oregon home for the last 20 years.
Outreach Services Manager
Melissa Valadez holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies – Biology and Psychology from Southern Oregon University, Ashland Oregon. Melissa, her partner, and their daughter moved to the charming and picturesque district of Deschutes County to be in closer proximity to family. Melissa is currently attending Portland State University: School of Social Work Program, as she is spirited about social justice, human rights, and interrupting oppression. When Melissa is not actively engaged in Thrives’ extraordinary mission or graduate responsibilities, you will find her spending quality time with her loved ones catching the breeze, going on bike rides, hiking, water sports, zip-lining, movies, concerts, plays, museums, road-trips – the adventures are endless.
Community Outreach Advocate
Emily grew up in California and recently graduated from UCLA with a bachelor of science in Human Biology & Society. She moved to Bend to serve with Thrive Central Oregon through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest program to gain some real-world experience at the intersection of society and health and to encounter others along their own journeys. When she's not in the office, Emily enjoys hiking, climbing, singing, and petting every golden retriever in sight.
Community Outreach Advocate- Bilingual
Michelle grew up in Redmond alongside her immediate family, and she has spent the last 13 years working in an office setting for the Redmond School District. While working and getting to know the Redmond Community, she enjoyed working with kids, built forever relationships, and strived to help Latinx families navigate student needs. She has refocused her work to join the Thrive Central Oregon team, living her passion for helping individuals and families. She is a mom of 3 handsome boys, loves to dance and get her adrenaline pumping, chase waterfalls, and enjoy the outdoors- whether in her backyard or in the beautiful scenery of Central Oregon.
Community Outreach Advocate
Johannah holds a degree in Sociology and minor in Psychology from Western Washington University, as well as a certificate in Applied Animal Behavior from University of Washington. For the last six years, Johannah has served the Central Oregon companion animal population and is passionate about advocating for the human-animal bond. From her time volunteering and serving people and their companion animals, Johannah learned the value of connecting individuals to resources and removing barriers. She enjoys being a part of a collaborative community that shares visions of a more humane world for people and their pets. Johannah is beyond excited to start a new journey with Thrive Central Oregon as a Community Outreach Advocate, and looks forward to building long lasting relationships.
Community Outreach Specialist - JVCNW/ Americorps
Rylie is originally from Lincoln, Nebraska. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame with degrees in Biology and Peace Studies. She is serving with Thrive this year through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest program. She loves the work Thrive does for the Central Oregon community and how supportive the staff is. Since living here, she's enjoyed taking advantage of the many hiking trails Oregon has to offer!
Housing Support Specialist
Jenna grew up in the rolling plains of the midwest, where she graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in photography. Her internship on a rural farm near Eugene with WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is where she fell in love with Oregon. Soon after she and her husband and dogs moved to beautiful Central Oregon to explore the wild outdoors. Her passion for helping people and strengthening community bonds is exactly why she loves working for TCO. In her free time she enjoys illustrating, embroidery, camping, waterfalls, and the Oregon coast.
Graham was born in Bend and spent most of his youth in the Midwest before moving back to Central Oregon in 2014. Graham provides tech help and a variety of assistance, thanks to a long experience working with internet security, computers, and websites. Graham is currently a librarian and has worked in the public library world for the past 7 years. He loves helping people, his wife, dogs, snowboarding, and disc golf.