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Nancy Hales

Program Director

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.


Sarah Iannarone

Assistant Program Director

Sarah is the Assistant Director of First Stop Portland, a program she helped develop in 2008 while a doctoral student in the Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. Her areas of expertise include social equity, urban placemaking, smart cities, climate action planning, and sustainable development. Her research examines how study tours like those offered by First Stop Portland help cities learn and innovate. At Portland State, Sarah was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, Summa Cum Laude, and Phi Beta Kappa.

In addition to her work at PSU, Sarah consults locally on political communications and globally on sustainable urban planning and development efforts. She is a community activist and the owner of a neighborhood restaurant promoting fair labor practices and urban agriculture. She currently serves on the board of the Halprin Landscape Conservancy, the placemaking 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 and the 2016-2020 Portland Development Commission Strategic Plan. She is also a member of the Emerging Leaders in Environmental and Energy Policy Network (ELEEP), an international think tank co-sponsored by the Ecologic Institute and The Atlantic Council of the United States.


Victoria Dinu

Student Assistant

Victoria studies Communications and Community Development at Portland State University. Her passion for community outreach began while representing the City of Portland as the Portland Rose Festival Queen. Victoria is also in charge of community outreach and education for the Portland Festival Symphony.


James Lopez Alexander

Student Assistant

James is an undergraduate honors student at Portland State University studying Economics & Mathematics. In addition to his work with First Stop Portland, he coordinates Tea with TED, a student-led interdisciplinary discussion group that focuses on issues surrounding human rights, technological innovation, and sustainable urban development.


Adriane Ackerman

Student Assistant

Adriane is an undergraduate student at Portland State University studying Political Science with an emphasis on Public Service, working towards a Minor in Civic Leadership and participates in both the University Honors and Political Science Honors programs. Building upon over a decade of grassroots community organizing, Adriane is dedicated to studying best practices in engaging citizenry in the public and political process and uses her time at First Stop Portland to glean insight from the experts - both in Portland and around the world.