Our members

Susan Fries, Lew Bowers, Tom Snell, Jim Oleson, Janet Gillaspie, Sarabelle Hitchner, Tom Bard, Nancy Burgi-Oleson, Jim Swenson
Our early founders: (L to R) Susan Fries, Lew Bowers, Tom Snell, Jim Oleson, Janet Gillaspie, Sarabelle Hitchner, Tom Bard, Nancy Burgi-Oleson, Jim Swenson

Who will be your neighbors? Most of the people who have expressed interest in PDX Commons have led interesting and successful lives. That doesn’t mean wealthy. Some have been professionals, business owners, managers, teachers and nurses. Here are some bios of our members.

FULL MEMBERS

Tom Bard summits Mt. Rainier.
Tom Bard summits Mt. Rainier.

Tom Bard:  I have three adult children, two sons and a daughter, all in their late thirties. All graduated from college, U of O, Willamette, and Evergreen. Nick is in Bend. Erin is in Crested Butte, CO. Tim is in Burlington, VT, likely to return to the NW. I’m retired now. The majority of my business career was in commercial real estate in Portland. The last twenty years I was a principle of ScanlanKemperBard Companies focusing on real estate investment in the western U.S. I am divorced. I enjoy outdoor activities, hiking, climbing, cycling, skiing and camping. I also like the symphony, ballet and opera. I look forward to contributing to our Adult Cohousing Community.

Susan Fries (l) & Lew Bowers (r)
Cohousing fans Susan Fries and Lew Bowers (R)

Susan Fries and Lew Bowers – (Susan:) I have a passion to create gardens to feed people, both nutritionally and visually. During my thirty years as a nurse practitioner, gardening was a hobby; post-retirement, I became a garden coach, helping others to actualize their garden visions. Turning my organically-grown and freshly picked garden produce into delectable meals brings me much satisfaction. I’m excited about living in community with friends in order to share cooking, tending a garden, making music and having a ready pool of folks to play board games with.

Lew Bowers  – (also in the above photo):  My vocation is urban development. I have been the Central City Manager for the Portland Development Commission for the last 13 years. I consider myself a ‘city-maker’ and get juiced by helping to create great places in cities; places where communities can grow. My avocations include road bike riding, reading history, travel and architectural history. I have been married to Susan for 30 years; we have one daughter who is a professor of classics at San Francisco State. I am committed to cohousing because I thrive in communities and want to have one that that is physically proximate.

Jim Swenson and Janet Gillaspie on the Great Ocean Road, Australia.
Jim Swenson and Janet Gillaspie on the Great Ocean Road, Australia.

Janet Gillaspie is married to Jim Swenson. Between them they have two grown children. Working on environmental issues since forever, Janet was a legislative aide, regional manager for DEQ and has had her own environmental consulting firm for 24 years. Janet loves hiking and camping, cooking, reading, travel to foreign places, and gatherings with friends and family. Janet is a consummate organizer: she makes stuff happen.

Jim Swenson and Janet have two grown children and two grandchildren. They have had a home in Irvington for 30 years. Jim has had several careers: television journalist, public administrator, lobbyist, writer/director of documentary films and interactive exhibits. Passions include music, bicycling, camping, cooking, travel, science, electronic design and computer programming. Jim has served on several non-profit boards and commissions in the Portland area. He’s a graduate of Stanford University. He loves to make music with others using voice and guitar.

Jim Oleson and Nancy Burgi-Oleson
Jim Oleson and Nancy Burgi-Oleson

Jim Oleson  – (Married to Nancy Burgi-Oleson) Nancy and I fell in love with Portland visiting our schoolteacher son from our home in Pacific City, OR. I’d been a public school teacher in Oregon until my retirement, and I still substitute on occasion. Hiking, car camping, bicycling, kayaking bond me to the great Oregon outdoors. We also have a son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in Bellingham, WA, where we first became acquainted with cohousing. I like that we are joining this Portland cohousing group in the formative stages: we really like planning and design. I also enjoy singing in groups and messing with the harmonica.

Nancy Burgi-Oleson – (Married to Jim Oleson) I retired as a speech pathologist focusing on early intervention with children in the early grades; and I still work-part time in that profession in Tillamook County. My favorite activities are pretty much aligned with Jim’s (above). In addition I volunteer with the local food bank. I have an interest in Living Space Design, based on the “Not So Big House” initiative. Participating in the making of this new community is extremely appealing to me.

PDX Commons cohousing associate members.
Sarabelle Hitchner and Tom Snell have joined us from San Jose.

Sarabelle Hitchner – (Married to Tom Snell) Sarabelle has just retired from her career as a banker (Bank of America) in the Bay Area. And, while her finance and management skills will prove invaluable to PDX Commons, that initial statement fails to reveal a lifetime of love for the out-of-doors. She worked as a park ranger for the federal government, has taught whitewater canoeing, winter camping, woodlot management. She was a fund-raiser and administrator for a small college in Vermont. She is looking to pursue her interests in birding, paddling, running, fiber art, and thriving in an intellectual and social environment. Oh, and she’s always looking for a good game of bridge.

Tom Snell (Sarabelle’s mate) had a life as a teacher, college administrator and business manager. When he and Sarabelle moved to the west coast he worked as a software test engineer for Hewlett Packard. For the last several years he helped lead the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and today serves on its board. He is also a birder and an avid outdoor enthusiast. Working as a project manager on various efforts in the past he brings to our group some key management skills that will be very useful as we move forward. Tom looks forward to working collaboratively with others to build this community.

Nina Nielson and Roger Blythe
Nina Neilson and Roger Blythe in their NW Portland garden.

Roger Blythe and Nina Neilson have been restoring a 100 year-old home in northwest Portland.  Both are still very much employed. Roger is a professional financial and investment adviser now specializing in long term care issues. Nina coordinates nursing care in a skilled nursing care residential project. (Giveaway clue in photo): Roger is an internationally certified sommelier.

 

 

Margaret McCue takes a hike in the Swiss Alps.
Margaret McCue takes a hike in the Swiss Alps.

Margaret McCue is our first international member joining us from her home near Zurich, Switzerland.  But Margaret’s roots lead back to Portland where she worked in the early ’80’s with our member Janet Gillaspie at the Department of Environmental Quality.  She later had a position with the EPA in Chicago. She’s now a communications specialist for a global insurance company based in Zurich. Obviously, hiking is one of her interests, along with reading, writing, traveling and keeping track of her two children in the Bay Area.

 

Eliza Wood Livingstone
Eliza Wood Livingstone

Eliza Livingstone and Clarke Bingham live in a condo in NW Portland’s fashionable Pearl District but are ready for more community. Eliza spent much of her life in health care and is a psychiatric mental health practitioner.  She particularly focused on maternal/child health and parenting education.  Eliza authored the book Living with Colon Cancer: Beating the Odds about her own personal journey.

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Clarke Bingham
Clarke Bingham

Clarke, now retired, was a partner in one of the oldest and largest construction companies in Oregon, builders of many of the state’s mega-projects. Clarke and Eliza now also manage their beautiful bed and breakfast wedding palace in Victoria, British Columbia.

 

 

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PDX Commons Cohousing
Debbie Kogan from Soquel, CA

Deborah Kogan now lives in Portland and previously lived in Soquel, CA.  Debbie is a policy and program evaluator for companies that evaluate programs of the state and federal government and various foundations.  Debbie has been deeply involved in the “book arts” community in the Bay Area. Her book making skills have been on display in many galleries including an internationally juried show in Portland at 23 Sandy.

Karen Erde
Karen Erde

Karen Erde recently retired from her physician practice and embarked on a six-month journey around Central and South America. While with the Multnomah County Health Department, she specialized in adult chronic diseases. She has taken her medical expertise on service trips to Africa and Nicaragua. Karen is an outdoor enthusiast who hikes and fly-fishes. There is a steelhead out there with Karen’s name on it, and she aims to find it.

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Stacey Roberts and Mike Lassner at the UN in NYC.
Stacey Roberts and Mike Lassner at the UN in NYC.

Mike Lassner and Stacey Roberts – Mike and Stacey join us from Urbandale, Iowa, where Mike retired from a 35 year career as a molecular biologist and plant geneticist.  Prior to that he was at UC Davis as a post-doctoral fellow.  But now he has time for another real passion: wind surfing. He couldn’t be coming to a better home base, because nearby Hood River is one of the premiere wind surfing centers in the US.  Mike and Stacey are also international travelers.

Stacey is originally a New York City gal, who developed an interest in plants. As she says, “As a child, I developed a strong interest in plants, insects, biology, and outdoor life. As a result, I eventually took my BS at Cornell University in Agronomy, and thus began a professional life of mostly agricultural field and laboratory research.”  And rice in particular — not cooking it, but growing it.  Stacey has a penchant for hands-on interests, including putting her hands on a 110 year old house, deconstructing it and then putting it back together close to its original glory.  Guess we’re going to have to expand the workshop.

Annie Lehman
Annie Lehman

Ann Lehman – Annie, raised on the East Coast, has lived in the San Francisco Bay for 25 years. But she is not new to Portland. She graduated from Lewis and Clark Law School, and then ran the Hollywood Law Center. Until recently, she was a policy expert on women and girls with the City of San Francisco. Annie still runs Zimmerman Lehman, a consulting firm for nonprofits founded by her late husband, Bob. Cohousing, a deep interest of hers for many years, brought her to us (woo hoo!). “I love participating in a community from the ground up.” Welcome back, Annie.

 

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Joanne Fox

Joanne Fox is a business professional currently working in the accounting department of Daimler Trucks (Freightliner). Originally a Jersey girl, she has considered the Pacific Northwest home for the last 25 years. Joanne has an adult daughter, Phoebe. She enjoys gardening, cooking healthy foods, canning, travel, camping, hiking, photography, attending music festivals and being actively involved in the Unitarian Universalist Church.

Tom Needham
Tom Needham

Tom Needham. Tom is a sixth-generation native Oregonian, recently retired from a career in corporate financial risk management.  As a long-time member of a Unitarian fellowship, he gained lots of experience in how an intentional community works, and in honing his skills as an aspiring amateur philosopher.  Being retired means he has more time for his favorite activities:  exploring Oregon on his bike, struggling to become a better tango dancer, and continuing his many years as unofficial uncle to children of family and friends. We look forward to Tom’s plan to stage tango-under-the-stars sessions on the rooftop deck.

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Cathy Roe (with her son's favorite ride)
Cathy Roe (with her son’s favorite ride)

Cathy Roe is a CPA who will be relocating to Portland from Seattle. She worked both in public accounting and as Chief Financial Officer for some private businesses over her career. She still handles financial affairs for a non-profit and her condo HOA board. Two of Cathy’s children reside in Portland along with a couple of her grandchildren.  Though she hasn’t lived in Portland she will be dropping into a welcoming community of supportive friends in PDX Commons. Sharpen that pencil to help us keep up with our budgeting and accounting!  Welcome Cathy.

Colleen Mitchell, Fresno, CA
Colleen Mitchell, Fresno, CA

Colleen Mitchell will be joining us from Fresno, California, where she is retired from California State University, Fresno, as a reference and acquisition librarian. Colleen has family in the Pacific Northwest. Her interests include travel, medieval architecture, art, reading, languages, hiking and gardening. Colleen has applied her librarian experience to PDXC’s newsletter by writing a book review and an advice column on weeding one’s book collection.

Floulkrod Oshin photo
Jo and Tode

Jo Foulkrod and Tode Oshin will be joining us from our future neighborhood, where they have lived for many years. Tode notes that he has lived within a mile of PDX Commons’ site in four different houses since the late 70s. He chaired the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association for two years in the early 80s, and we appreciate his now regular contributions to our newsletter introducing us to neighborhood amenities. Jo works for the City of Portland, having spent 25 years of public service in finance, budgeting and accounting. She is a voracious reader, and enjoys theater, the arts, swimming, gardening and traveling. She’s a big sports fan, especially of baseball. Tode is retired from the City, and shares Jo’s love of baseball, coaching Little League. He is also a keen cook and photographer, and enjoys traveling.

Brauer-Rieke sm
Gretchen and Dave in Yosemite

Gretchen and Dave Brauer-Rieke will be joining us from their mini-farm in Milwaukie. Dave is serving as Bishop of the Oregon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, still keeping a very busy schedule. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and biking– he has even persuaded Gretchen to ride a tandem bike with him on occasion. Gretchen is a retired nurse-midwife and nurse-educator, now working as a Certified Advance Care Planning Facilitator, offering workshops and presentations on end-of-life planning through CodaConversations.  She is also a hiker and backpacker, always looking for new trails. She and Dave backpacked across Oregon on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014 and lived to tell about it. They have three adult children and are expectant grandparents.

Hinda ColeHinda Cole will be joining us from Seattle, where she is retired from a career in human resources. Originally from Illinois, she has a masters degree in labor and industrial relations. Hinda has been a volunteer for SCORE, a not-for-profit organization that provides support to small businesses through one-on-one counseling and workshops. Hinda’s son, daughter-in-law and two of her grandchildren live in Portland, which was an impetus for her to make the change to Portland. Hinda enjoys swimming, yoga, movies, socializing, gardening and reading, and looks forward to living in a community.

Cross country skiing is one of Marsie's many avocations.
Cross-country skiing is one of Marsie’s many avocations.

Marsie Martien, born in Cleveland OH, gradually worked her way west, living in Denver CO for 30 years, then stopped where the earth fell off into the Pacific Ocean in Newport OR and finally to Portland OR where she felt like she had arrived home at last. Marsie has 2 sons, 2 daughters-in-law and 4 grandchildren (light of her life). One son lives in Vermont with his family and the other lives with his family in Portland. Most of her working career was as a school library media specialist at a PreK-12 alternative school but also worked as a reference librarian in a public library and as a real estate broker on the Oregon coast. Her favorite volunteer job is taking her therapy dog to school and have kids read to the dog. Marsie likes to walk, do yoga, swim, kayak, x-c ski, snowshoe, bicycle, hike, camp, garden, dance, read (especially with her grandchildren), watch movies, be surrounded by music, sewing, crafts, be of service and looks forward to living in community.

Summerville
Claudette Summerville

Claudette Summerville joins PDX Commons from NE Portland.  Originally from Minnesota, I have called the Pacific North West home for the past 50 years. As a Registered Nurse my career has spanned various practice areas and currently I work a whopping 2-3 days a month since retirement 9 years ago. Volunteer medical campaigns to provide primary medical care in developing countries have been very rewarding for me.  My activity and interest list is eclectic.   It is sometimes more about the people you are with that the actual activity itself. Travel, outdoor activities, performing arts, and volunteering are high on the list. I am looking forward to developing the community of PDX Commons.  (She also really enjoys a good joke! – ed.)

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Karen and Paul cruising at sea

Paul and Karen Jolly will be joining us from southwest Portland and their cabin in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon.  Karen is a retired community college instructor and Paul is a retired phone company engineer.  Karen was born in Portland and Paul in southwest Washington.  After retirement, Paul and Karen spent 12 years as volunteer community organizers for a national non-profit.  In their next retirement, they look forward to participating with this community in SE Portland.  In addition to travel and long-periods of time in the mountains, they look forward to golf, bridge, fly-fishing, becoming SE PDX foodies, and the community.  They have two children and one darling grandson.

TrudyHussman
Trudy with cohousing friends at Oregon coast

Long-time Portland resident Trudy Hussmann retired from a career in corporate communications, including a position at the Kaiser Permanente’s regional headquarters. Prior to her communications work, she did social work with an MSW from Portland State University. Retirement gives her time to pursue outdoor activities like hiking and camping. Trudy has also developed a serious interest in photography and is a member of a meetup group called Women Learning Photography Together. Throughout her life, she has dabbled in folk guitar, drawing, painting, ceramics, jewelry-making, mountain-climbing, river-rafting and more. At age 57, she got serious about cycling and logged more than 10,000 miles.

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Claire at the Women’s March in January 2017

Originally from California, our newest Full Member, Claire Westdahl, is considered a pioneering modern midwife. Retired from Emory University’s School of Medicine as a professor emeriti, Claire still consults for health systems as her travels allow. She recently participated in a 110-day Semester at Sea voyage around the world with 650 undergrads and 70 life learners. Claire also enjoys theater and the arts, reading, gardening, and most of all, bridge. She moved to Portland to be closer to family and looks forward to downsizing to a smaller footprint in a walkable urban neighborhood, living in a developing community of new friends.

 

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Fran Rothman (L.) and Robin Van Doren

Robin van Doren moved to Portland two years ago with her partner Fran. Now retired, she has had a colorful and varied past that included teaching, lecturing, leading women’s groups, leading immersion experiences in India and Indonesia, and much more. Robin raised three children in a Manhattan apartment where she enjoyed an interactive, mutually supportive relationship with her neighbors. Now she gets to enjoy her eight grandchildren and their parents. She also likes music, movies, art, ceramics, camping, walking on the beach, walking dogs, gardening and feeding people – as well as questions, rituals, and people who ride the bus (and those who don’t).

Before retiring, Fran Rothman worked in social work and special education, helping children, homeless families, low-income people and those of different ethnicities. Fran enjoys nature and camping, modern classical music, film, performance art and children who are described as “problems.” She and her partner Robin have a dog that will live at PDX Commons. Fran says the best way for her to feel part of a community is by doing things with other members. Perhaps perceived as shy, she gladly pitches in to help. She is a good listener and organizer, and she looks forward to learning about other members’ traditions.

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Karen Meier and Steve Fisher have been married for 29 years and have two adult children who they hope will visit often. Karen grew up in Chicago and Steve grew up in New York. They met in Alaska where Karen was working for Alaska Fish and Game and Steve was working for the city of Anchorage. After moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, they raised their family and continued hiking and traveling in between working and commuting. Karen retired from a career in drug development, mostly working for small startups. She enjoys tutoring adult literacy, gardening, book clubs and making pottery. Steve is looking forward to retirement after 39 years as a transportation planner. Both love hiking, camping, x-country skiing and other outdoor activities. They are looking forward to world travel and again exploring Oregon, where Karen went to graduate school in wildlife science, and Steve started his career at Tri-Met.

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