A resident of the Northwest region for over 30 years, Nancy Hales leads Portland State University’s program First Stop Portland. As a transit user, farmer’s market patron, neighborhood volunteer, and citizen activist, Nancy lives one of Portland’s many stories. When not at work she and her family are either biking the Springwater Corridor or sailing the Columbia River.
A New Jersey native, Hales began her professional career in Yakima, WA. She worked as a grassroots community organizer for Volunteers in Service to America, or VISTA, addressing neighborhood and school issues. She moved to rural Carson, WA in the early 1980's to develop a youth employment program for the Forest Service. She served as a founding member of the Columbia River Gorge Commission, adopting the country’s first ever National Scenic Area Management Plan. Hales's efforts as a Commissioner focused on balancing resource protections with local economic vitality. She was the President/CEO of a major philanthropic foundation, the Community Foundation for SW Washington for over 15 years, developing community-based grant programs to strengthen neighborhoods and build community infrastructure. These initiatives became models shared across the country. She holds a BA in Economics from the University of Vermont, and a Masters in Public Administration, with honors, from Lewis & Clark College.
Assistant Program Director
Sarah is the Assistant Director of First Stop Portland, a program she co-founded in 2008 while a doctoral student in the Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. Her areas of interest are social justice, urban placemaking, and sustainable urban planning and development. Her doctoral thesis examines how study tours like those offered by First Stop Portland shape the global discourse on urban sustainability. At Portland State, Sarah is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and Phi Beta Kappa. In addition to her work at PSU, she consults on political communications and urban planning efforts. She is a neighborhood activist and the owner of a small neighborhood restaurant promoting fair labor practices and sustainable urban agriculture. She serves on the board of the Halprin Landscape Conservancy, the steering committee of the SoMa EcoDistrict, is co-founder and steering committee member of the Arleta Triangle Project, and sits on the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Mixed Use Zones Project Advisory Committee (PAC).