Staff may be reached at 503.546.2950. Our email addresses are first name @ independencenw.org. To learn more about a staff member and his/her experience, click the + button.
Brenda Cooper | Administrative Assistant
Brenda has lived in the greater Portland area since 2001, having moved from her home state of Michigan with her husband. She brings with her a background in the medical / mental health field, and she also has a working experience with individuals with developmental disabilities. In her free time, Brenda enjoys camping, reading, listening to music, and petting her two kitties.
Jamie Lyzell| Lead Personal Agent | ext. 14
Jamie has been working in the social service field since 2005. She graduated from Oregon Institute of Technology with a BS in Psychology in 2005. While in school she was an extern with the Klamath County Juvenile Department and also worked as an on-call group worker in their detention facility. She then moved back home to Portland and started working for Albertina Kerr Centers in their girl’s residential program. In 2006, she began working for the Clackamas Education Service District in a behavior classroom with youth ages 8-12. She also began coaching softball and basketball at a local high school. In 2010, Jamie was moved to a Native American residential program called Cedar Bough. In that same year, she also began working for the Clackamas County Juvenile Department as relief worker. In 2012, Jamie began working for SE Works in a job development program for young adults 18-25. She started with Independence Northwest in 2014. When not at work, Jamie enjoys working out, softball, being with her family, and doing anything outside.
Larry Deal | Executive Director | ext. 10
Larry has been professionally supporting the intellectual/developmental disabilities community since 1996. While attending the University of Washington, eyes set on being a writer, he began work with this community via a volunteer position. From there, he served in a variety of roles at Supported Living agencies in Seattle and Tucson. In 2001, a move to Portland brought him to the brokerage system. He served as an independent contractor, then Personal Agent at Mentor Oregon Brokerage before moving into the Brokerage Director role in 2004. In 2006, in concert with peers and community members, he co-founded the nonprofit public charity/support services brokerage Independence Northwest. Since then, he has served as the Executive Director of INW and couldn’t be prouder of the organization’s impact and effect on the developmental disabilities community. He is the Communications Director and President of the Oregon Support Services Association.
Angeline Frank | Lead Personal Agent | ext. 22
Angeline (Angie) Frank has been working with people with disabilities since 2004. She first began working with the DD community in 2004 at United Cerebral Palsy of Oregon & SW Washington (UCP) in 2004 as a Support Specialist and then an On-Call Relief Worker. While working at UCP, Angeline received her Bachelor degree from Portland State University (PSU) in 2009 and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Hatfield School of Government – PSU in 2012. She is also a graduate of AmeriCorps NCCC* (2002- Maryland). In February 2014, Angie joined the Independence | Northwest team as a PA. She has extensive experience working in Supported Living programs where she helped support over three dozen clients with DD in the home setting. Angie’s extracurricular interests are watching classic movies and reading British literature (especially Jane Austen).
Jessica Kral | Senior Program Supervisor| ext.11
Jessica has been involved the disability and social service field for over ten years and has been with INW since 2008. In addition to working with individuals with disabilities, Jessica has worked youth in the justice system, survivors of domestic violence and people living with HIV/AIDS. With a BS in Psychology and Masters in Social Work, Jessica has dedicated her personal and professional life towards community change and social justice.
Rachel Kroll | Plan of Care Coordinator | ext. 72
Rachel will always be a Canadian at heart but moved to Washington State in 2008 after living in western Canada her entire life. She spent 4 years in Olympia, WA working in hospitality and volunteering within the local arts community at The Olympia Film Society. In 2012 life brought her to Portland, OR to be closer to friends and after 8 years spent working in the hospitality industry Rachel joined the INW team as Office Manager in 2013. Rachel enjoys reading, board games and spending time with her family – she looks forward to raising her family in Portland and getting more involved in her neighborhood and community.
Chris Psota | Personal Agent | ext. 20
Since moving to Portland from Nebraska in 2002, Chris Psota has been working in various roles in supporting people with developmental disabilities. Chris began this work at Goodwill Industries in 2004 when he accepted a position as an enclave supervisor. From there, Chris went on to become a vocational case manager at Goodwill where he worked for 7 years. During that time, he also completed the Masters of Social Work program at PSU, focusing primarily on employment and social supports for people with disabilities. After graduating in 2013, Chris became a personal agent at Independence NW. Chris has also volunteered with local women’s shelters and has been an organizer for the Cascade AIDS Walk for several years. In his free time, Chris can be found walking Ava, his bossy Huskie/German Shepherd, or riding his bike around town
Finch Raffa | Quality Assurance Coordinator | ext. 25
Finch Raffa has been working for Independence Northwest since 2012. Utilizing his degrees in English and Latin, he juggles many responsibilities, chief among them processing piles of paperwork, ensuring providers are properly paid, and correcting his coworkers’ mistakes. When not at work, Finch enjoys art films and monster movies, epic poetry, and brown liquor.
Ron Spence | Operations Director | ext. 12
Ron Spence has being working for Portland area brokerages since 2003 and was a founding member of Independence Northwest in 2006. He has a passion for common sense and focuses his professional energy on reducing the bureaucratic red tape that creates obstacles to quality human services work. He spends his spare time inventing ridiculous nicknames for his cats and reading long books.
Carie Shumway | Quality Assurance Lead | ext. 18
Carie has been working within the developmental disabilities community since 1998. Her experience includes early behavior intervention for children with autism, direct care for children with extreme behavioral and mental health needs, special education classroom support, and internships in child counseling and self-advocacy for people with I/DD working to influence disability policy. Carie has a B.A. in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Social Work. She joined the Independence Northwest team as a Personal Agent in 2009. Carie enjoys travelling, meeting new people, thinking outside of the box, empowering her customers and spending time with her cat, Bruce.
Hans Chung-Otterson | Lead Personal Agent | ext. 23
Following his graduation from Whitman College, Hans began working with people with disabilities in 2007. He started by working in the school system on the Yakama Indian Reservation in central Washington, and quickly began working with kids with disabilities and behavioral difficulties. Following this he was an aide in a high school special education classroom, and then a direct support staff with United Cerebral Palsy in Portland. In 2011 he started working as a PA at INW, and other than a yearlong stint as a Child Protective Services worker with Oregon DHS, has been there ever since. Outside of work, Hans writes and reads and is always up for a game.
Melody Cauley | Personal Agent | ext.21
Melody has been working in the social services field since 2004. Her experience began with working in Child Protective Services for the State of Oregon. She also worked as a program coordinator at a residential program for adolescent boys with developmental disabilities, and as a vocational case manager at Goodwill Industries. Melody has B.A. in Social Sciences with areas of concentration in Psychology and Sociology. In April 2015, she joined Independence Northwest team as Personal Agent. When Melody is not working she enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, being outdoors, and discovering new bands in the Portland area.
Melissa Thompson | Personal Agent | ext. 16
Melissa Thompson has been working with individuals experiencing disabilities in various settings for over 15 years. Originally from Idaho, she provided direct support to children and adults in their homes, schools, and in the community. In 2008, Melissa relocated to Portland to be closer to family and access more support for her son who experiences Autism. She began working as a Vocational Case Manager and then Long Term Services Program Manager at Goodwill Industries, where she worked for over eight years. During that time, she obtained a BS in Business Management and Masters of Business Administration with a focus in Nonprofit Management. Melissa joined the INW team as a Personal Agent in October 2016. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys spending time with her family and friends, adventuring in the outdoors, participating in art/craft activities, and gardening.
Jesse Raposa | Personal Agent | ext. 24
Jesse arrived at INW with several years of both professional and personal experience within the realm of social services. After she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 2012, she moved on to become a Service Coordinator for people with I/DD in Texas where she was born and raised. She moved to Olympia, WA in 2014 and worked for the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Administration as a Case Resource Manager. Upon chasing her childhood dreams and relocating to Portland in January of 2016, she began her career with INW as a Personal Agent. When she is not talking your ear off about music, she’s likely trying to do some good in the world or dancing in the streets.
Emily Dinwiddie | Personal Agent | ext. 19
Emily has grown up in Oregon. She obtained her Bachelors in Science from Oregon State University in Human Development and Family Sciences and started her career in Human Services in Bend. For over 10 years, she has been working with various service organizations to provide education, outreach, and support services. Her Case Management experience has included supporting individuals in: Supported Employment, Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, Emergency Housing, In-Home Care, and even one year as a Personal Agent for another Metro Area Brokerage. In 2013, Emily completed her Masters of Education and Human Resources Studies with emphasis in Adult Education and Training from Colorado State University. She has been living in the Portland Metro area for the past 6 years where she loves attending Trail Blazers and Timbers games with her family. On the weekends you can find Emily enjoying the outdoors- camping, hiking, swimming, or playing at a local park.
Andrea Ochsner | Personal Agent ext. 17
Andrea graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work in 2001 in her hometown of Denver, Colorado. She has 12 years of experience working in various non-profits including child welfare services, children with disabilities CES Program, and for a prevention program assisting families in need. She recently joined INW in March of 2016. In her personal life she enjoys camping, hiking, and mountain biking in the great outdoors. She also loves live music, animals, cooking and spending time with family and friends.
Adrienne Akin | Personal Agent | ext. 31
Katie Thompson | Personal Agent | ext. 32
Katie has been working in the disability community since 2012. She has a strong background in Social Security benefit eligibility having worked as a legal assistant in a disability law firm and as a nationally certified benefits planner. In early 2016, Katie joined the Independence Northwest team as a Personal Agent. If Katie isn’t gardening, hiking, or camping, she’s usually found snuggling cats.
Clover Mow | Personal Agent | ext. 15
Clover Mow has been supporting the disabilities community in many capacities since 1994. Clover brings over twenty years’ experience of working with youth and adults with disabilities providing community supports, career coaching, and job placement and retention services. She’s worked on a number of local, state, and federal grants related to employment services for youth and adults who experience disabilities, are English Language Learners, in addition to those impacted by the criminal justice system or homelessness. She previously worked for the Vocational Rehabilitation Youth Technical Assistance Center (Y-TAC) through the Institute for Educational Leadership and provided technical assistance to state VR offices around youth transition services. Additionally, Clover was the Director of Programs for SE Works Inc, an American Job Center, where she was responsible for the organization’s programs in the Youth, Reentry and Workforce Development Centers. In her free time, Clover enjoys listening to music, traveling, and spending time with her family.