Project Leadership

Portland State University is the lead institution of the BUILD EXITO project. EXITO brings together PSU faculty and researchers from  a broad range of disciplines, including Community Health, Social Work, Biology, Chemistry, Public Health, Psychology, Engineering and more.

Staff Leadership


Carlos Crespo
Principal Investigator 

Dr. Crespo is the Principal Investigator of EXITO, and co-directs the Student Training Core of the project. He is Director of the PSU School of Community Health and has an active research portfolio in physical fitness, epidemiology and minority health. 




Thomas Keller

Dr. Keller is Co-Principal Investigator of EXITO and he co-directs the Institutional Development Core of the project. He is the Duncan & Cindy Campbell Professor in the PSU School of Social Work and Director of the PSU Center for Interdisciplinary Mentoring Research. His research focuses on understanding the development and influence of mentoring relationships and evaluating efforts to enhance mentoring program effectiveness.


Drake Mitchell 

After earning his doctorate in physics at the University of Oregon, Drake pursued post-doctoral training at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center.  After seven years in Charlottesville he moved to the N.I.H. for what would be a 14 year tenure in the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the last eight years serving as Chief of the Section of Fluorescence Studies.   In 2008 he was pleased to move back to Oregon and accept a faculty position (Professor of Physics) at Portland State University.


Cynthia Morris

Dr. Morris is the Co-Director of EXITO and she co-directs the Research Enrichment Core.  She is Interim Director of the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute and the Vice Chair and Professor of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology with research focused on nutritional interventions in pregnancy and chronic disease. In addition, she researches clinical trial methodology and optimizing clinical research methods.



De’Sha Wolf 
Project Manager 

De’Sha Wolf the BUILD EXITO’s project manager.  She holds a PhD from UCLA in Higher Education Administration and has worked in a variety of higher education settings to support students.





Steering Committee


Joe Finkbonner
Executive Director
North Portland Area Indian Health Board 






Kimberly Howard
Program Officer
PGE Foundation 






Leslie Garcia
Chief Diversity Officer (interim) and Assistant Vice Provost
Director, Center for Diversity & Inclusion at Oregon Health and Sciences University





Nelson Agulia
Project Scientist 
National Institute of Health