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Nancy Hales

Director, First Stop Portland

Nancy Hales has been advancing the livability of cities for over thirty-five years.

At the helm of First Stop Portland since its inception, Hales has built the organization into an institution recognized internationally for its ‘Practice of Excellence,’ shaping the way cities now learn from each other.

Hales began her professional career in Yakima, WA in the turbulent 1970’s as a grassroots community organizer.  A ‘Volunteer in Service to America,’ or VISTA, Hales’ work focused on inequalities within urban neighborhoods, from red-lining to zoning, to school safety.

Hales served two consecutive WA governors as a founding member and the Vice Chair of the Columbia River Gorge Commission, adopting the country’s first ever National Scenic Area Management Plan. Hales' leadership assured the successful balance of both regional resource protection and local economic vitality for the Columbia River Gorge.  

Prior to joining First Stop Portland, she served as President/CEO of the Community Foundation for SW Washington building financial stability, credibility and community-based funding partnerships as cornerstones for non-profit executive leadership. These initiatives are now 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 Director, First Stop Portland

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 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.