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Our Team

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SARAH MAHNKE, MSW

Executive Director

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. 

ALLIE UMTUCH

Bookkeeping & Grant Support Specialist

Allie grew up in Portland, Oregon, and moved over to the Bend area in 2023. She has more than 10 years of experience working with special needs children at DHS and is currently working towards her bachelor's degree in accounting. In her spare time, she enjoys river tubing in Sunriver with her husband and three kids!

MEGAN STICKNEY

Team Lead

Megan is originally from Poulsbo, WA and attended the University of Washington where she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Sociology and Spanish. After college, she moved to Costa Rica where she first served as a TEFL volunteer in the Peace Corps and then went on to teach at a private bilingual high school. She recently moved from Costa Rica to Bend with her two dogs to be closer to family. When she’s not working at Thrive, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, reading, yoga, and being outdoors. 

KARLA AGUILERA

Bilingual Community Outreach Advocate

Karla has lived in Central Oregon for 8 years. She has an Associates degree in Criminal Justice from Central Oregon Community College and a Bachelor's degree in American Studies from Oregon State University. She is currently in the process of obtaining a Mental Health certification and preparing the road to apply for law school in hopes to become an immigration lawyer. Karla enjoys building healthy relationships with members of her community and is passionate about justice, mental health, and rights for immigrants. Karla loves teaching Zumba, Martial Arts, and self-confidence classes for women and children.

BARBARA CARRINGTON

Bilingual Community Outreach Advocate

Barb grew up on the Oregon Coast and moved to Bend in 2003. She attended Central Oregon Community College and the University of Oregon, ultimately earning a Bachelor of Science degree in General Social Science. Barb has worked in social services in Deschutes County for the past 10 years, where she assisted connecting individuals with resources and community support agencies. Aside from social service work Barb enjoys spending time with her daughter, gardening and crafting.

LEAH GURGANUS

Community Outreach Advocate

Leah has called Central Oregon her home for most of her life. She obtained her Associate's Degree from Central Oregon Community College and spent 7 years working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She transitioned to working with social services and nonprofits where she found a passion for helping the community that she loves dearly. Leah also loves her animals on her hobby farm, she has rescue pups, horses, chickens and even a couple pigs! She also has a passion for hiking and exploring the beauty of Oregon.

RACHEL OLSON

Community Outreach Advocate

Rachel grew up in the suburbs of Minnesota, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2017. Rachel then moved across the country with her partner and cat Dixie to Bend, Oregon in December of 2019 in order to be closer to the mountains and ocean. Rachel is a strong believer in human rights and has a passion for creating a more inclusive, healthy, and compassionate community. In her free time, she enjoys bike riding, cooking, reading, and doing yoga.

ARRIANA ADAMS

Community Outreach Advocate

Arriana is an enrolled member and citizen of The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.  Arriana is passionate about helping her community learn how they can empower themselves and their families. When she isn't at work she enjoys exploring new food, spending time in the woods, puzzles, and spending time with family. 

OSWALDO CRUZ

Bilingual Community Outreach Advocate

Oswaldo grew up in Nicaragua. He loves traveling which has led him to live in China and New York City, before finally settling down in Oregon in 2016. He loves trying good food and building new relationships wherever he goes. When he is not at work, he loves to go fishing, playing rugby and cooking meals for friends.

PETER PECORA

Bilingual Community Outreach Advocate

Peter grew up in the Bay Area before studying Economics and Latin American Studies at Tulane University in New Orleans. He spent a year abroad surfing and studying in Valparaiso, Chile. After graduating, he worked as an apprentice carpenter in Big Sur and a middle school Spanish teacher and soccer coach in New Orleans. Peter moved to Bend in 2022 and enjoys the many outdoor activities such as snowboarding and mountain biking.

BRITTA SCHROETER PHILLIPS, MSW

Community Outreach Advocate

Britta grew up in the city of Chicago and started moving gradually west after high school. With a degree in Studio Art from St. Olaf College and a Masters in Social Work from Portland State University, she believes that the combined power of creativity and empathy can change the world. Britta worked with Thrive from 2017-2020, and rejoined the team in 2022 to provide phone-based services to the Central Oregon community she has become so close to. In her free time, she plugs through an infinite list of things she loves doing: making food, being outside, developing new craft skills, foraging, hiking, kayaking, gardening... it's endless. 

SOPHIE ELLIOTT

Community Outreach Advocate

Sophie grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado and attended Gonzaga University where she earned a Bachelor’s of Arts and Sciences in Sociology and Criminology. She is very passionate about mental health and disability advocacy and has been grateful for her experiences serving individuals with disabilities both in Colorado and Washington. In her free time, she likes spending time with friends, listening to live music, and hanging out on the water.

DANICA GARY

Community Outreach Advocate

Danica graduated from Southern Utah University with a Bachelor's of Science in Psychology. During her time in Utah, she gained a passion for creative writing, philosophy, and literature. Before moving to Oregon, Danica worked with youth where she discovered a passion for systems advocacy. She moved to the area with her partner and cat and looks forward to exploring the beautiful scenery of Central Oregon.

GRAHAM FOX

Volunteer Extraordinaire

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.

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Staff values

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