THRIVE Staff & Faculty Mentors

Mandy EllertsonMandy Ellertson
For over 30 years, Mandy Ellertson has worked in higher education. The last 19 have been at Portland Community College where she serves as the Student Leadership Coordinator and part time instructor in the Humanities and History division. Her work at PCC focuses on empowering students to take leadership roles on campus and in their communities.
She is a member of the Coalition Against Hate Crimes (CAHC), and a volunteer for the Association of College Unions International, Portland Aquatic Club Scholarship Fund, and the Lone Fir Cemetery "Dearly Departed Tours". Mandy currently serves on the Executive Council of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2277 as the Academic Professionals Grievance Officer.
Mandy is the proud mother of four children who benefited from our public school system (both K12 and Higher Ed) and is happily married to Scott Ellertson, a City of Portland employee.
Beto Espindolabeto espindola
High School Equivalency Program (HEP) Director, has been with PCC since February 2011. His 20+ years of professional work have been focused on serving migrant and seasonal farm workers (MSFWs) through community-based organizations and higher education institutions. He believes the role of Administrator THRIVE Mentor will provide the opportunity to listen and guide his assigned Mentor(s) in order to contribute to the empowerment of THRIVE students. As a person who has benefited by the guidance of life-time mentors, he is fully committed to THRIVE's mission.
Danica FiermanDanica Fierman
I am beginning my second year at PCC Rock Creek coordinating the Student Learning Center and teaching Reading and Writing. Having the opportunity to work closely with one student as a mentor is what attracted me to THRIVE. I hope to share life and work lessons I have learned over the years and to learn from my mentee's experiences and journey as well.
Jean Garcia-ChitwoodJean Garcia Chitwood
My position is currently Program Director under the Dean of Instruction office. I have been working for PCC for over ten years. I am currently working on my doctorate through OSU in Community College Administration. I enjoy entertaining, cooking, gardening and working out. I also enjoy supporting the growth in colleagues, staff and students because I always learn something too. Parker Palmer put it this way:

Mentors and apprentices are partners in an ancient human dance, and one of teaching's great rewards is the daily chance it gives us to get back on the dance floor. It is the dance of the spiraling generations, in which the old empower the young with their experience and the young empower the old with new life, reweaving the fabric of the human community as they touch and turn.

(Palmer, 1998, p. 25)
Paul Halloranpaul halloran
My name is Paul Halloran and I am a Senior Community Resource Specialist at the Rock Creek Campus. I started my employment with PCC as a Career Services Specialist but for the last 6 years I have been working as a Developmental English, ESOL, and ABE/GED academic advisor.
Years ago I helped to start the Oregon Leadership Institute (OLI) at Rock Creek. OLI is a program that matches college student mentors with high school juniors and seniors. From that experience, I learned how important a mentor can be for students entering college. College is a new, and sometimes scary, environment for students to enter. It is important for them to know that they don't have to figure it all out by themselves. College should be an exciting experience in which to learn and grow and serving as a mentor in the THRIVE program is a responsibility I take very seriously.
Brenda IvelisseBrenda Ivelisse
I am the Associate Dean of Students at Rock Creek. I have been in the position for a little under a year. My passion is the retention of marganilized students in higher education, whether students of color, 1st generation, etc. I have worked in higher education for the past 9 years, always striving to serve students and create opportunities for them to succeed. That is the main reason I am looking forward to mentoring a leader in THRIVE. I am pursing my doctorate from Oregon State University, but my heart is that of COUGAR, since I earned my BA and Masters from Washington State University. I am originally from Puerto Rico and come from a long line of educators. I've been at PCC for 5 years and hope to be here for another 20!
Joshua Peters McBrideJoshua McBride
My position here at PCC is Clubs and Programs Specialist, which oversee's the Rock Creek Clubhouse, as well as oversee's the Rock Creek Q Center, all of which are a part of ASPCC Rock Creek. I have been with Portland Community College since January 2011, and I have loved every moment of this journey.
What I'm looking forward to the most is connecting with students. I am a strong believer in encouraging, motivating, and advocating for student success. This opportunity is a perfect way to do just that!
Cristi Rae Playford, MPHCristi Rae Playford
I am a part-time health education instructor at the Rock Creek Campus and have taught every term since Fall 2009. I regularly teach Personal Health (HE250) and Community/Public Health Issues (HE251). I have had the opportunity to also teach Film and Public Health (HE255) and Stress and Human Health (HE242). In addition to teaching at PCC I also teach for the School of Community Health at PSU on occasion. Aside from teaching, I volunteer at my youngest daughter's school and coach her softball team. I enjoy being outdoors as much as possible, traveling, reading, playing sports, and listening to live music. I am a native Oregonian, past graduate of PCC, and received my Master's in Public Health from PSU. I am married and have 3 girls.
I absolutely love teaching. I like to have fun in the classroom and feel that if I'm having fun, my students are having fun. One of the best parts about teaching is seeing the look on a student's face when they finally understand a concept or learn new information that they can actually apply to their life. I believe the teacher/student relationship should be reciprocal in nature. Through getting to know my students and really listening to them I learn so much. I look forward to the opportunity with THRIVE to provide gentle guidance to students and watch wonderful things happen in their lives through their experience with the program.
Usha RamanujamUsha Ramanujam
I am the Department Chair and Instructor, Business Administration, at Rock Creek. I've been at PCC for 6 1/2 years. I am looking forward to the opportunity to make a difference in the educational and personal growth of students and myself. I would like to spend time interacting one on one and get to know the students better and use my knowledge and experience wherever possible to guide them achieve their educational endeavors.
Narce RodriguezNarce Rodriguez
My name is Narce Rodriguez. I am currently the Dean of Student Development at Portland Community College/Rock Creek Campus. I have been at PCC for 11 years.
I am looking forward to being a mentor in THRIVE by meeting students who want to engage in dialogue in regards to being successful students at PCC. I am the first generation student to attend college and have worked in higher education for the last 25 years and have picked up some good advice that I can share with students about college.
My passion and dedication is for Education and involvement in many community activities that promote cultural awareness and sensitivity to diversity. I have also been a faculty teaching: Chicano Latino Studies, Women Studies and Counseling Guidance Courses.
I hold a Bachelor's in Sociology and Master's in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Education & Race Class and Gender from OSU.
David L. Rule, Ph.D.David Rule
Starting his fourth year at PCC Rock Creek Campus President, Dr. David Rule, hails most recently from Muskegon Community College in Muskegon, Michigan, where he served as president for almost 4 years. Dave, who holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Statistics from SUNY Albany, as well as a B.S. in Music Education and M.S. in Educational Psychology, both from College of St. Rose in Albany, is excited by his charge at PCC Rock Creek, a 256-acre college campus surrounded by forest, wetlands as well as businesses and residences.
Rock Creek has increasingly put itself on the cutting edge of sustainability and workforce development. Boasting innovative new curricula in solar-voltaic manufacturing, microelectronics and biosciences, as well as a unique closed loop recycling program, Rock Creek is constantly looking to the future to see how it can serve the community.
One of Dave's first responsibilities as Rock Creek President is to oversee the implementation of the 2008 PCC bond measure, and to facilitate collaboration between PCC and the community leaders of Washington and Columbia Counties. During his tenure as President at Muskegon Community College, he made sweeping and positive changes in technology, strategic and academic planning, as well as completed a major building project.
When he is not at PCC Rock Creek or out and about representing PCC Rock Creek, he can be found in his new home near Rock Creek with his wife and three school-aged children, or, on sunny days, flying down the winding roads of Oregon on his motorcycle. With three main campuses as well as several learning centers, Portland Community College is Oregon's largest institution of higher education, serving more students than all Oregon colleges and universities combined.
Birgitte RyslingeBirgitte Ryslinge
For the past 12 years I have provided senior level administrative leadership at community colleges in California and Oregon. I hold a PhD in Organizational Psychology, have taught at the college level in 2-year and 4-year institutions, and also have leadership experience in the corporate and small business arena.
I am first and foremost passionate about the mission of the community college. The community college movement changed the face of higher education in America, and continues to provide the most attainable path to opportunity for millions of diverse students. Everyday, in small and large ways, community colleges improve the quality of life for individuals, communities, states and our nation. I consider it a privilege to lead and advocate for our amazing programs, faculty, staff and students.
Since 2008, I have served as the Dean of Instruction (DOI) for the Rock Creek Campus of Portland Community College, a position equivalent to a campus chief academic officer. PCC is the largest institution of higher learning in the state of Oregon, serving more than 90,000 credit students in a five-county, 1,500 square mile region in NW Oregon. Rock Creek is one of three comprehensive campuses, and serves 24,000 annual student headcount (approximately 8500 full-time-equivalent). As DOI I provide instructional leadership to five division deans, 30 department chairs, 120 full-time faculty and another 500 part-time faculty.
My professional trajectory and my philosophy of leadership have been informed and benefitted from a number of mentors in my life. I try to take every opportunity to mentor others, and am pleased to be a mentor with THRIVE mentoring program at PCC Rock Creek.
Cheryl L. Scott, Ph.D.Cheryl Scott
I am currently serving in a temporary position as Dean of Special Projects at the Rock Creek Campus. This position started in July of this year and will end in June 2012. I was hired at PCC in July 2004 as the Dean of Business and Humanities at the Rock Creek Campus and have served in that capacity for the last 7 years.
I am looking forward to serving as a mentor in the THRIVE program during the academic year. I am a positive and enthusiastic person who understands the importance of education. I enjoy working with individuals and assisting them in meeting their goals. I understand the barriers that can impede a person’s ability to reach their educational goals and will provide support for student success.
Elizabeth Smithelizabeth smith
I teach Writing and Literature and have been working at Rock Creek since 2009. I am honored to be a part of this new program and am excited about its potential to bridge connections between faculty, new students, and more experienced students. I look forward to working closely with my mentoring student, to guide that student in whatever way I can, and to learn from him or her.