Project Access NOW Staff
The heart of any organization is its staff. These are the people who take the vision and mission of the organization and make it real.
Linda Nilsen, MPA – Executive Director
Linda, a native of rural Michigan, has had diverse experience in the world of health care, starting with public health community organizing in Central America with a non-governmental organization called Outreach International.
After moving to the Portland area in 1993, she spent 12 years working for Washington County, most of that time in the Department of Health and Human Services, where she worked as a Health Educator and Program Manager for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening program.
Immediately prior to her work with Project Access NOW, Linda managed the Essential Health Clinic, a free urgent care clinic in Washington County.
Janet Hamilton – Deputy Director
Janet’s title of Deputy Director provides cover for her actual role as Fomenter of Chaos. At Project Access NOW, she combines removing barriers for our awesome staff and volunteers to effectively serve our clients with finding new opportunities to make those services as comprehensive as possible. She is passionate about winning the War on Poverty, which by the way, has not yet been won.
A recovering Californian, Janet fell in love with the Pacific Northwest in the early 1990s when she traveled here regularly for her work as a healthcare information systems consultant, a profession she has yet to fully shed despite various career forays as a coffee shop/specialty grocery store-owner, organizational development consultant, mediator, and even one day of law school.
When not at work, you can find Janet coaxing her tomato plants through the spring gloom, overspending at a farmers market, or paddling on one of Portland’s fabulous waterways.
Sheila Hale – Director of Operations
Sheila has been associated with Project Access Now almost since its inception.
Her last job as the Executive Director of the Essential Health Clinic came with a seat on the then newly formed Board of Directors for Project Access NOW. Sheila was elected Treasurer, created and chaired the Finance Committee, and sat on the Executive Committee for over 5 years.
Joining the board when the organization was in its infancy was both challenging and enormously rewarding. The ‘baby’ has grown, developed, matured and evolved into a strong, viable, dynamic and exciting entity. Our leadership has never lost focus of the original goal to bring healthcare access to those without and to make a powerful positive contribution to a healthier community.
In 2014 Sheila was asked to co-manage a project working with the Oregon Medical Insurance Pool (OMIP) Program. In this temporary position, she was charged with assisting those transitioning from the state insurance pool onto qualified health plans, now that they could not be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. “It was a really worthwhile project. We put together a very fun team. Exceeding our goals was also rewarding.”
Family is a significant focus for Sheila. It is a joy for her to have all 5 grandchildren living in the Portland metropolitan area. Soccer games are a favorite family event, whether they are spent rooting for the Thorns, the Timbers, or the grand kids.
Shannon Kelley – Office Administrator
Shannon is currently our Office Administrator and enjoys the wide variety of roles and responsibilities included in any given day. Among other things, she’s responsible for HR, accounts payable and receivable as well as various financial reports and general support to our executive management team, finance committee and board.
It’s an honor and privilege to work with such an outstanding team and brilliant leadership. In the 2+ years I’ve been with Project Access NOW, I’ve witnessed tremendous success and the creation of four new, much needed community based programs. What we do as a team is exciting and powerful.
Shannon is a huge dog fan and adores spending time with her golden doodle, Doyle Dog and standard poodle, Gracie Jean. Other spare time activities include board games with friends, serving on the board of my neighborhood association, and yes some TV time. She currently hooked on Dancing With the Stars, Shark Tank, The Profit, and Scandal!
Jennifer Gonnella – Classic Program Manager
Jennifer began her career in public health in the mid-90s working at Multnomah County Health Department as a Spanish Interpreter before eventually moving on to Wallace Medical Concern, at the time a free walk-in clinic in Old Town. At Wallace, she filled a variety of roles, from Clinic Coordinator to Director of Outreach and Community Programs.
Jennifer was excited about Project Access NOW from it’s inception and developed a referral coordinator position, filled by Jesuit Volunteer Corps members so that Wallace clients could benefit from this incredible resource.
Now, as the Regional Care Manager of our Classic Program, Jennifer manages a diverse staff as they work to connect our clients to care and cultivate positive relationships with partner clinics much like those where she once worked.
Jennifer’s favorite part about working here is the multi-cultural environment where she is able to speak Spanish all day with co-workers and clients.
My bachelor’s degree was in Spanish Literature and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oregon. While there I started to learn about the struggles that immigrants face when trying to get healthcare and other resources for their families. I volunteered at the Centro Latino Americano in Eugene and visited migrant camps and PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos del Noroeste) to learn more about the barriers and how I might help. Project Access NOW is my dream job and allows me to continue to learn about our ever-changing community!
In her free time, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her husband Dave and her daughter Lindy. She also enjoys music, cooking, reading, gardening, and hanging out with her cats.