Rujuta Gaonkar has been living and working in the Pacific Northwest for the past 19 years, doing conducting research and developing, managing and evaluating programs in the public health field, always focused on the intersection between public health and social justice. Since her transition to motherhood in early 2010, Rujuta has become more keenly aware of and passionate about the importance of assuring that all parents and caregivers have the support they need to maintain healthy families.
Kathryn Weeks was born and raised in Albany, Oregon. After living away for several years in various parts of the US, Kathryn returned to the Northwest and worked as a nurse in women’s health in hospitals and in family planning and maternity case management at community health centers. She became involved with the work of FFO after the birth of her first child in 2015 and now the whole family and the family business is involved! Kathryn and her husband, Ben Verhoeven, are the second-generation owners of their family wholesale nursery business Peoria Gardens. They have implemented various family-friendly policies at the nursery, including full pay parental leave. Kathryn spends her free time creating permaculture gardens for herself and friends and chasing chickens and children.
Kate Newhall has been a Portlander and social justice advocate her entire life. She worked in and around state government for 20 years as a Policy Advisor in the legislature, Legislative Director at BOLI and representing labor unions and nonprofits in the state legislature. Kate believes our society needs better supports for mothers and caregivers, so it was her great honor to work 9+ of those years with Family Forward in varying roles, including as their lobbyist, staff policy advisor and consultant. Kate’s favorite policies to work on were part of Family Forward’s core work, including Paid Sick Time, Equal Pay, Pregnancy Accommodations, and Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance. Shortly before the pandemic, she decided to leave all the glamor and glory of state policy work to become a nurse. She is excited to soon be working in PeaceHealth SW’s Emergency Department. In her free time, she sews, crafts, and camps in her VW pop-top bus.
Amy Donohue is a Principal with Bora Architecture & Interiors and has over twenty-five years of experience designing spaces for education, performance and collaborative work. Trained in Design Justice and Critical Race Theory, Amy has been instrumental in the creation of Bora’s equity framework and action plan toward ending systemic racism. She is currently leading the firm’s effort to co-develop workforce housing for young Black professionals in the AEC industry, seeking to grow the pipeline of diversity in the profession. Amy and her husband, architect Paul McKean, live in Portland with their two young daughters. In her free time, Amy enjoys reading, gardening and exercising with friends.
Zena Moore has been an active member of Family Forward’s Action Team. She holds a Masters of Social Work from Portland State University with training in Practice and Leadership in Communities and Organizations. Zena is a chemical dependency counselor with Lifeworks NW and works closely with clients to believe in their success. Her long-term goal is to start a therapeutic practice which rebuilds the relationships between parents and their children.
Andrea Paluso is a social worker turned community activist and fervent policy wonk. She has worked in public education, community health clinics, and in international development. She has master’s degrees from Columbia University in social work and public health and a work history in public policy and nonprofit program management. Andrea hopes that our work will inspire and help parents, employers and policy-makers to create the kinds of policies that work for today’s families. Andrea is the mother of two kids, ages 6 and 8.