One of NAYA's ten core values is leadership. Our strong leaders are the key to creating the change in the world that we want to see. Last month, two of our leaders, Ashley Thirstrup, Director of Youth and Education Services and Rey España, Latino and Yaqui, Director of Community Economic Development, moved on to their next journeys. We applaud their service, and celebrate their immense contributions to Portland's Native Community. 
Ashley Thirstrup, former Director of Youth and  Education Services has joined the team at Oregon Health Authority, where she  will have the opportunity to support policy and system change through capacity building of tribes, local public health systems and regional health equity coalitions statewide. And after 14 years of visionary work at NAYA, our beloved Mr. España, Latino and Yaqui, has retired.


In Ashley's words: I started at NAYA on Mississippi Avenue as a Domestic Violence and Child Advocate in 2006, and I will always remember the important work that we did together to bring safety and stability to the lives of survivors of violence. I also have fond memories of making fry bread, gutting huge salmon and delivering food boxes in the snow!
A few years later, I had the honor to move into the Youth and Education Services Department, and work alongside some of the most dedicated people I have ever met. Every day working towards equity and racial justice by fostering independence and resilience in the next generation of leaders.
I have learned so much from all of the people here that I have had the opportunity to work alongside. I will forever be shaped by these experiences and am thankful for all the lessons I’ve learned at NAYA from elders, to kids, to all of you - lessons about respect, humility, and how to lead with open ears and conviction.

Rey was a key figure in launching NAYA’s Early College Academy, which started with a class of six. Now nearly a decade later, the school enrolls around 70 students per year. Rey became the Director of Community Economic Development, launching and overseeing programs in homeownership, microenterprise, career skills development, and financial wellness.
Rey was also instrumental in the acquisition of the current NAYA facility on NE Columbia Blvd. He spearheaded the construction of Kah San Chako Haws, an award-winning housing project and led the way in the creation of the Generations project, an inter-generational housing development that serves the needs of foster youth and elders. 
Rey was honored to be appointed NAYA’s Deputy Director in 2014, and worked tirelessly to improve integration of services, while providing oversight to four departments and the Early College Academy.
Rey in his own words: I move on from NAYA with fond memories of all that we have accomplished. We should all be proud of the effort and results we have attained. My nearly 14 years at NAYA has been but a blink of an eye, I have served our community as the seer, the vision guy [and I] thank you all for your support over the years.
We thank you Ashley and Rey, for your tireless efforts during the decade plus you were both integral parts of the NAYA Family Center. Your work has brought us so much closer to the dreams of NAYA's original founders, and has benefited the greater Portland Metro Area in immeasurable ways. Your leadership has truly captured our mission to enhance the diverse strengths of our youth and families in partnership with the community through cultural identity and education and we celebrate your legacies.
Copyright © 2017 NAYA Family Center, All rights reserved.

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