Samantha Bakall | Communications Director
Samantha Bakall is a queer, Chinese American former journalist whose work has centered on amplifying diverse communities through food writing across the Pacific Northwest. Before joining MRG, Samantha worked for The Oregonian from 2013-2018 as the only staffed food writer of color in the state. After leaving the paper, she worked as a freelance writer specializing in diversity-based food issues — predominantly about Asian Americans in the Pacific Northwest — as well as travel and the outdoors. She helped plan and execute Portland International Airport’s fall 2020 – spring 2021 editorial strategy for its ongoing, $2 billion renovation and has mentored underrepresented youth interested in journalism for five years. In 2019 and 2020, she also designed and ran Amplify, a summer internship for high school journalists from underrepresented communities in partnership with Metro and Pamplin Media.
When she’s not writing, you can find her cooking or baking an intricate meal, hiking or kayaking (oftentimes both) across the Pacific Northwest, or heading out on a camping adventure in her home-built camper.
Samantha started in 2021.
Se-ah-dom Edmo | Executive Director
Pronouns: She / Her / Hers
Se-ah-dom Edmo, Shoshone-Bannock, Nez Perce & Yakama, is MRG’s Executive Director. She brings deep experience in community organizing for racial and social justice work across the nation. She is co-editor of the Tribal Equity Toolkit 3.0: Tribal Resolutions and Codes for Two Spirit and LGBT Justice in Indian Country and American Indian Identity: Citizenship, Membership & Blood. Prior to joining MRG served as the Sovereignty Program Director at Western States Center where she was the coalition convener of Tribal History: Shared History (Senate Bill 13, 2017) in Oregon – this law established and funded teaching of Indian History and Sovereignty in K – 12 Schools across the state. A hallmark of her career has been fostering relationships and collaborations between tribes and organizations that do social, racial, environmental, and economic justice work across the region. She is currently a member of the Steering Committee of Oregon Recovers and is an ALF Senior Fellow. She lives in Portland with her husband James and their children Siale, Imasees and Miyosiwin, as well as her parents, Ed and Carol Edmo.
Se-ah-dom’s ancestors are from Celilo, a fishing village along the Columbia River and one of the oldest known settlements in the West.
Jude Perez | Grants Manager
Pronouns: They / Them / Elle
Jude Perez is a versatile professional that brings a deep understanding of non-profit operations, systems, and fundraising to the table. Prior to joining MRG, Jude was part of the Community Cycling Center’s development team where they took joy in grant writing and coordination, database management, and systems creation. Jude’s social justice journey began as an LGBTQI+ rights advocate and grassroots activist in Texas and California, and continues to this day with a broader scope including racial justice, art in activism, education, gender, and income equity.
In addition to grants management, Jude oversees the Lilla Jewel Awards, facilitating and coordinating all aspects of the awards.
Jude started in January 2019.
Violeta Rubiani | Director of Programs
Pronouns: She / Her / Ella
Born and raised in Paraguay—and an Oregonian since 2000—Violeta has dedicated her professional career to improving access to opportunities, services and programs for all Oregonians through her work in the government and non-profit sectors. She comes to MRG from Meyer Memorial Trust, where she worked as a Program Associate with the Building Community Portfolio. A passionate advocate for social and environmental justice, Violeta has given her time and expertise to many organizations and causes, both in the US and her native Paraguay. These days, she serves as Board Chair of the ReBuilding Center, is a member of the Metro Parks & Nature Equity Advisory Committee, and a volunteer for the Asian Pacific Family Club at the Oregon State Penitentiary.
When not trapped underneath Lola, her 12-pound cat, she can be found hiking trails with her partner, growing veggies in her community garden plot, and spending inordinate amounts of time thinking about how to fix the world.
Violeta started in February 2019.
Lindy Walsh | Finance and Operations Director
Pronouns: She / Her / Hers
Lindy brings to MRG more than 30 years of experience in non-profit finance and administration. She served on the MRG Board of Directors, Grantmaking Committee and has volunteered and worked for organizations that have received funding from MRG for much of her work life. Prior to joining our team, Lindy worked at the Community Cycling Center, Partnership for Safety and Justice, and River Network.
Dena Zaldua | Development Director
Pronouns: She / Her / Ella
As a bilingual, bisexual, Jewish, Latina daughter of an immigrant, Dena Zaldúa’s passion for social justice is both very personal and the driving force behind her 20-year career working mostly in philanthropy with non-profits and educational institutions. She has found a home for her calling to bring about a just and joyful world in her work as the Development Director for the MRG Foundation. As Development Director, Dena is honored to manage the fundraising programs of MRG, working closely with donors, board, staff, and volunteers to raise the funds to be granted to the radical, cutting edge, and grassroots social justice grantees of MRG.
Before joining MRG, Dena was the Operations Manager for the Center for the Study of Women in Society at the University of Oregon. Prior to that, she was Development Director at Parenting Now and Associate Director of Development at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Dena also works as a consultant to help individuals, groups, and organizations check their race, class, gender, and other privileges and learn how to truly walk the talk of equity and justice. Dena earned a BA in Art History and Women’s Studies from Williams College, and is a member of Hispanics in Philanthropy and the Williams College Latinx and Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Alumni Associations.
Dena lives and works remotely in Eugene with her son. Dena started in March 2019.