Meet the team from Friends of the Children–Lane County Oregon.

Matt Springer

Matt Springer

Executive Director

Matt Springer

Executive Director

Matt Springer joined Friends of the Children in 2020 as Executive Director of the Lane County Oregon, location where his career in social services began 22 years ago. After stints working for various local nonprofit agencies, including Looking Glass and Northwest Youth Corps, Matt gained a Master's in Public Policy and Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Oregon. Fueled by a strong commitment to social justice and systems reform, Matt championed sweeping changes in the higher education system in Montana prior to returning to Lane County in 2017. Recently, Matt served as the Programs Director for Northwest Youth Corps, serving close to a thousand youth each year through immersive workforce programs across Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Matt's wife, twin children and their dog, Hank Stamper, live in Eugene where an affinity for Sweet Life's cinnamon rolls presents a persistent distraction.

Monisha Akhoury

Monisha Akhoury

Program Director

Monisha Akhoury

Program Director

Monisha Akhoury is the Program Director at Friends of the Children- Lane County, joining the team in 2020. Monisha brings over 10 years of experience working with marginalized communities helping to bridge the gap. She has spent many years in Washington DC working for a successful high school mentoring program whose mission was to increase graduation and success rates of DC public school student. She has a passion for food and nutrition. She has worked for the Harlem Children Zone and Bushwick Campus farms bringing food education and food justice to underserved communities in New York City. She is dedicated to breaking the many systems of oppression people face today and is excited to work with the Friends of the Children team to break the cycle of generational poverty. Monisha loves all things food related, cooking it, growing it and especially sharing it and creating community around it.

Heather Moats

Heather Moats

Operations Manager

Heather Moats

Operations Manager

Heather Moats serves as the Operations Manager for the Lane County, Oregon Chapter. Heather joined Friends of the Children in 2020. Prior to Friends of the Children, Heather worked in the Maritime Ship Agency industry evolving from a boarding agent to a Regional Operations Manager, a position that focused on process improvement and efficiencies. The maritime phase of Heather’s career culminated in being the Director of Operations for SphereMD a small Healthcare company whose core business is providing healthcare to predominantly foreign maritime workers. During the eight years with SphereMD Heather was instrumental in building the processes, work-flows and data systems to support a national expansion, where the company grew from Portland, Oregon to providing services in all ports of the United States. Having also overcome adversities growing up, the vision, goal and methods used by Friends of the Children touches Heather at the core. When the Friends of the Children - Lane County Chapter opened Heather knew the opportunity was too good to be passed up and jumped onboard. When not out riding her motorcycle Heather enjoys hiking, music, reading, and puzzles mainly crosswords, sudokus, and nanograms.

Alex Elizárraga

Alex Elizárraga

Professional Mentor – Friend

Alex Elizárraga

Professional Mentor – Friend

Alex is an Oregon native who attended college in Moorhead, Minnesota to study psychology with intent to better understand what motivates and drives humans to success. Coming from a community of hardships himself, he has spent his time and energy looking for causes to which he can give back. He has been a volunteer teacher for New Americans in adult basic education classrooms, acted as a mentor and tutor for youth of all ages, and has looked for ways to establish community and engagement between people, whether by starting a chess club or assisting in the organization of open-mic storytelling events. He also loves to run, backpack, and consistently lose tug-of-war to his dog, Pancho. Alex is excited to bring his values and passions to Lane County as a Professional Mentor of youth whose backgrounds may be similar to those with whom he grew up, most of whom did not have the resources necessary break their own cycles.

Gina Mendez Paoletto

Gina Mendez Paoletto

Professional Mentor – Friend

Gina Mendez Paoletto

Professional Mentor – Friend

As a humanitarian and Peer Support Specialist serving my community is not only my passion but also a daily lifestyle for me. I attended and graduated from Oregon State University in 2004 and took on work with Latinx community soon after. I learned quickly the amount of support communities need and made it my life-long commitment to do all I can to support families. I have two amazing and independent daughters that I adore. They are part of the reason I work hard to ensure safety and joy for children. I believe in working to improve who we are as individuals and to never become stale in all areas of our lives, including our professions. I believe life is an education and I am eager to learn new things at all points in my life. Adventure is in my soul and I carry it with me wherever I go.