Get to Know Our Staff

Heidi Larwick (Executive Director)

Heidi Larwick


Heidi Larwick is a passionate and committed leader in the nonprofit sector who firmly believes in the power of community organizations to drive positive, equitable change. With almost two decades of experience under her belt, she has devoted her career to fighting for labor rights, public health advocacy, and most recently, educational equity. READ MORE

Becky-Jo Samples (Staff)

Becky-Jo Samples


Becky-Jo is passionate about increasing access to educational opportunities. As a first-generation college student and Ford Scholar, she knows the importance of having strong mentors and support systems. She first got involved with Connected Lane County as a marketingJAM judge and as an event speaker. Becky-Jo served on the board of directors for Downtown Languages from 2017 to 2021 and as the board president from 2019 to 2021. In January 2021, she joined the board of directors for Centro Latino Americano where she's been working to help the organization merge with Downtown Languages and Huerto de la Familia.

A proud Duck, Becky-Jo holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Oregon and a master’s of business administration from Northwest Christian University (Bushnell). She enjoys reading and learning new things, traveling, cooking, gardening, and spending time outdoors with her husband Josh, and two dogs Mufasa and Albus.

Lizzie Brown

Lizzie Brown


For over five years, Lizzie has been a vibrant, enthusiastic member of the Connected Lane County team. She is a Lane County native, a product of the Eugene 4J school district, and the Spanish Immersion program. Her academic achievements led her to the University of Portland, where she graduated in 2015 with degrees in Spanish and Sociology.

Now a seasoned member of the team, Lizzie’s passion, and enthusiasm around equitable access to education for all students have grown stronger than ever. Though she doesn’t have any two-legged children of her own, Lizzie is an active and involved cat mom to her boys Boomer and Gus. She enjoys going out to the Lane County wineries, biking to summer shows at the Cuthbert, and supporting local restaurants.

Michelle Martin (Staff)

Michelle Martin


Michelle Martin has over 25 years of experience as a Program Assistant for Lane ESD. As our office coordinator, Michelle ensures we're running smoothly! She provides support to Connected Lane County’s Board of Directors and the many innovative projects and initiatives that Connected Lane County has created. In her free time, she enjoys camping and spending time with her family.

Illiana Lang Lundgren (Staff)

Iliana Lang Lundgren


Iliana is committed to helping community-based nonprofit organizations increase their financial sustainability while measuring, enhancing, and sharing their impact.  In her early career, she supported international nonprofits to crowdfund online and managed donor-advised funds for corporations, family foundations, and individuals. After moving to Eugene, Oregon, and completing her master’s degree in nonprofit management at the University of Oregon, she is thrilled to be contributing directly to her new community by bringing her marketing and development skills to Connected Lane County to support youth from diverse backgrounds to gain the confidence and skills they need to thrive in their lives. Outside of work, she enjoys yoga, hiking/exploring, and trying new restaurants and food carts with her husband, Hunter, and dog, Rori.

Jade Luther (Staff)

Jade Luther


Jade is the Graphic Designer and Photographer for Connected Lane County. She works closely with the marketing team to help develop new and engaging ways for youth and partners to interact with the organization. Jade is always striving to learn new skills and wants to learn as much as she can about visual designs of any kind.

She is dedicated to using her passions to help the underserved community and wants to see youth thrive and grow in environments outside of school that help them succeed and discover new paths. She has always believed in having a serving mindset and is ready to lend a hand when and where ever needed. In her free time, Jade loves spending time with her family and pets, playing video games, running, and swimming! Some of her favorite things are the color blue, dragons, and cold sunny days.

Krishna Patel (Admin/Spark)

Krishna Patel


Krishna is the IT Specialist for Connected Lane County. He grew up in Eugene and is currently a student at the University of Oregon pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. When he is not working or going to school, Krishna enjoys spending time with family and friends and learning new things.

Graham Ross (Staff)

Graham Ross


Graham has over 35 years of experience in the food service, restaurant, and hospitality industry ranging from college & university dining service to fine dining to multi-unit management for national restaurant chains; both corporate and franchise.

He has two main passions in life; one is cooking and the other is helping less fortunate kids find their way in the world. His passion for cooking started when he studied under a Hungarian Chef who was trained at the famous Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Paris. Over the years he looked for ways to employ young adults in his operations and he particularly loved teaching kids in women’s shelters to cook. Graham believes deeply that the kitchen is one of the best places to start the underserved kids on a career that will be rewarding, earn a living wage, and put them on the road to independence.

Graham lives in Florence with his wife Mary and their very spoiled Beagle Abbey. He is a member, and previous board member, of the Rotary Club of Florence and the Christian Church of Florence. In addition, he is a current board member of the Florence Urban Redevelopment Agency (FURA) and First Step Florence.

Dan Lombardi (Elevate)

Dan Lombardi


Dan came to Connected Lane County with over 15 years of experience in education and community building throughout the Pacific Northwest. Before joining the Elevate team, he spent over six years teaching high school and middle school language arts and social studies in Oregon and Washington State –  helping students understand their own history and tell their own stories. Prior to his teaching career, he served as an organizing, communications, and lobbying representative for several local and national nonprofit organizations and also worked on several statewide and local candidate and ballot measure campaigns.

Dan currently lives in the Friendly Area Neighborhood of Eugene, Oregon with his partner, their kiddo, cats, chickens, ducks, and bees. When he’s not coordinating meaningful career-connected learning opportunities for the youth of Lane County, you might find him climbing a bouldering wall, hitting a tennis ball, or playing a musical instrument.

Shimea Jordan (Elevate)

Shimea Jordan


Shimea Jordan joined CLC in October of this year with the motivation to be more involved with youth in Lane County. Her previous experience includes managing the food and beverage department of some of Eugene’s most prestigious hotels; she brings years of event coordination experience to this new role. In her free time, Shimea can be found outside playing a pickup game of basketball or volleyball. For her, basketball has been and always will be her first love. Her passion for food and adventure makes her an avid thrill seeker with an enviable appetite for life.

Elevate staff member Tracey

Tracey Ward


Tracey was born and raised in Eugene, Oregon. She attended the University of Oregon and Linn-Benton Community College where she studied English Literature and Spanish. She has years of experience in the classroom supporting students and has a passion for making education accessible to all. Tracey loves spending time with her family, reading, and trying her best to keep houseplants alive.

Monica Reynoso (Elevate)

Mónica Reynoso


Mónica came to Connected Lane County with a bounty of volunteer experience involving youth in various capacities. She has traveled to Mexico and Guatemala on Medical Mission Trips, provided mentorship and tutoring to students in the 4J School District, and served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate of Lane County. She is passionate about providing advocacy for youth in her community. You might catch her exploring the outdoors with her partner, reading, cooking, dancing, or spending time with family, friends, and her two Yorkshire Terriers in her spare time.

Alex Davis (Elevate)

Alex Davis


Alex brings over a decade of experience working with youth and other non-profits within Lane County to the Connected Lane County team. While working as an Educational Assistant, he saw first-hand that not all youth have equal opportunities and realized that he wants to help resolve the disparity gap. Outside of work, he is a husband to his wife, Tami, and father to his two-year-old, Ace. Connecting with young people through basketball is his passion and he is an Assistant Coach of the Men’s Basketball team at Bushnell University.

Navigate staff member Annie

Annie Dropek


Annie has a Masters's degree in Education from the University of Oregon and has always had a passion for empowering and guiding youth. She started her career as a middle school Language Arts teacher, then an elementary Montessori teacher, and is now excited to bring her dedication to community building and youth growth to Connected Lane County. When she isn’t working, she occupies her time by hanging out with her family and fur babies, binging nerdy TV shows, reading sci-fi and fantasy books (and trying to write her own), and drinking lots and lots of tea.

Olivia Goodheart (Navigate)

Olivia Goodheart


Olivia Goodheart is a Resource Navigator for Connected Lane County’s Navigate program. Olivia serves youth in Cottage Grove, Creswell, Lowell, and Oakridge, and supports them in achieving their short- and long-term career and educational goals. Olivia grew up and continues to live in Lorane, OR, and is passionate about encouraging rural youth to follow their dreams.

After graduating from Churchill High School in Eugene, Olivia attended Williams College in Massachusetts. She graduated with a BA in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Political Science, and Spanish. She brings experience in the classroom and direct support work with adults with disabilities. In her free time, Olivia enjoys snuggling her three cats, rock-climbing, and curating her vast collection of indoor plants.

Sean Wilkinson (Navigate)

Sean Wilkinson


Sean grew up in Northern California and has spent the past decade in San Diego. He has years of experience inside the classroom and is dedicated to making a difference in the Eugene community. When he is not working he loves exploring the area with his dog Payton and loves to cook and tinker with flowers and plants.

Meg Watson (Navigate)

Meg Watson


While new to nonprofit work, Meg is excited to apply both her lived experiences and professional knowledge to her role as Resource Navigator. Her involvement with the ASPIRE program while a student at the University of Oregon ignited her passion to support youth in achieving their post-secondary goals, and she’s looking forward to providing more expansive services through the Navigate program.

When not at work, Meg enjoys starting (and occasionally finishing) DIY projects around the house, spending time with friends, and singing parodies to and about her three dogs, Sadie, Arthur, and Winifred.

Hailey Johnston (Navigate)

Hailey Johnston


Hailey is new to Oregon and excited to be here! She graduated from Montana State University with a degree in psychology and has a background in working with students in higher education. Hailey also has experience in social work, helping youth with emotional and behavioral problems, as well as experience in the field of addiction treatment.

Hailey is passionate about serving her community, mentoring, and creating opportunities for youth to grow and break the cycles of poverty and trauma.  In her free time, Hailey enjoys exploring new places, doing arts and crafts, and hanging out with her cat.

Adriana Santiago (Navigate)

Adriana Santiago


Adriana was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, and grew up in Oceanside, CA, before moving to Oregon when she was 10 years old. She is a first-generation DACA-mented student with a passion for opening the doors of higher education for the Latinx community. Adriana volunteered with organizations including PeaceJam, Downtown Languages, and Centro Latino Americano, and has been the co-chair for the Mecha chapter at Lane Community College since 2020. Prior to joining the Connected Lane County team, Adriana worked at PeaceHealth Pediatrics clinic and prior to that, she was a pharmacy technician.

When Adriana is not active in the community or working, she likes to go out on long walks, hang out with friends, explore new places, listen to music, read, learn new languages (she speaks four!), dance, or just stay at home with her indoor plants!

Cheyenne Vance (Navigate)

Cheyenne Vance


As a Peer Support Specialist, Cheyenne uses her lived experience and training to help support those who struggle with navigating everyday life stressors, mental health, psychological trauma, and substance abuse. She has a background in Human Development and Family Science and Psychology from Oregon State University. In her free time, she enjoys camping, star gazing, and spending time with her two dogs.

Justin Thibedeau (Spark)

Justin Thibedeau


As a Program Lead, Justin helped bring our Spark program to life! He also works toward expanding the reach of the digital literacy curriculum in Lane County. Justin brings years of experience coordinating maker spaces and engineering labs and uses hands-on design challenges and curriculum to support Lane County educators and students in exploring STEM curriculum and computer science pathways.

Spark staff member Gerardo

Gerardo Garcia Cruz


Gerardo is the Project Assistant for Spark at Connected Lane County. Gerardo was born in San Jose, California, and lived most of his life in the Bay Area. Gerardo obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Davis with a focus on Policy Analysis.

Gerardo moved to Oregon in 2022. Gerardo runs cross country for the Oregon Track Club and loves competing when the occasion arises. When he is not at work or running he is creating DJ sets, creating interactive digital visuals for his page, or simply out floating in the river with his cousins in the summer.