Administrative Coordinator & IDA Specialist
I was born in a small town in Mexico but currently live in Salem, Oregon. I am a senior at WOU and will graduate with a bachelor’s in social science and minor in Public Policy & Administration. My favorites hobbies include hiking, crafting, playing tennis and spending time with my family. A fun fact about me is that I have traveled to both, South America and Central America. I speak three languages- Spanish, English and French. Being the seventh child out eight, I love that MERIT is family oriented. And I also admire MERIT’s vision of a strong, vibrant economic future for underrepresented communities because I grew up in a historic impoverished area and I see how MERIT’s programs directly serve low income families.
Fund Development & Administrative Manager
I am originally from Forest Grove, Oregon. Growing up I enjoyed watching my purple and gold, the Lakers play and spend Sundays screaming at my Seahawks. Now, my free time, is spent with close friends or sitting down and watching SportsCenter. I received my bachelor’s in business at Western Oregon University. I happened to do my internship here in MERIT and now working here in as the Vision program coordinator and program assistant. Most importantly, I am part of MERIT to help out my community in any way, shape or form that is most beneficial for their success.
Alejandro M. Salazar
Program & Operations Manager
Born in Mazatlán, Mexico and raised in Bend, Oregon, Alex graduated from the University of Oregon in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Political Science and Philosophy, and minoring in Business Administration, as well as Writing, Public Speaking & Critical Reasoning. He is a self-proclaimed cinephile and when he is not watching movies, he is either reading the biography of a historic leader or writing material for a stand-up comedy routine. Alex is fluent in both Spanish and English and hopes to learn French and Italian in the near future.
Victor Vasquez MPA
Interim Executive Director/ Director of Program Services
Mr. Vasquez has a combined experience that includes over twenty-five years of local, state and federal government service. The majority of his work has been in the area of education and community and economic development. Throughout his career, Mr. Vasquez has focused his interest in community empowerment, local decision-making, leadership, and developing regional economic development strategies in impoverished communities. Currently Mr. Vasquez serves as the Director of Consulting Services for the Nonprofit Association of Oregon.
Professionally, Mr. Vasquez has served in the Administration of both President Clinton and President Obama. He first entered federal service under President Clinton serving as the Deputy Administrator for United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, launching the Rural Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Communities and then as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Department of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy.
At the Department of Defense, Mr. Vasquez managed, directed, and served as the key Policy Advisor to the Secretary of Defense in multiple areas such as the Office of Resale Activities which involved overseeing operations for commissaries and exchanges totaling 295 stores with 89,000 employees, serving 12 million patrons annually. He provided guidance on development of multiple initiatives including: Military Community policies and civilian and military personnel recruitment and retention; Department of Defense Education Agency providing education programs from pre-kindergarten through secondary school, serving 77,000 students in 161 schools worldwide; newly chartered Office of Public Education, managing and implementing continuing education programs for 304 centers worldwide with an enrollment of 650,000 service members; and Office of Family Policy, operating over 600-child care centers, 281 family service centers, and worldwide child and spousal abuse prevention programs.
Most recently, at the federal level Mr. Vasquez served in President Obama’s Administration as Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development; a $22 billion rural economic development agency with over 3,000 employees and offices throughout the country providing service to every rural county in rural America.
At the State level Mr. Vasquez served on former Governor Barbara Roberts Staff in Intergovernmental Affairs and also served as the Director of Oregon Community Services in the State of Oregon. His professional background includes working in the State of Massachusetts as the Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Transitional Assistance and in New York State Government as the Director of Research for the Veterans Commission.
Originally from Eagle Pass Texas, Mr. Vasquez worked his way through the fields of the Pacific Northwest as a migrant and seasonal farmworker to attend the University of Oregon. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Oregon and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School of Government with coursework toward his PHD in Community and Economic Development at Southern New Hampshire University.
Abi Swain is a senior at North Salem High school. She is an avid runner and does cross country in the fall and track in the spring. She also loves painting and drawing in her free time and wants to use her passion for the arts to pursue a creative career; she wants to study industrial design in college. She also plans on running in college. Abi was born in Santiago de Compostela, Spain and is bilingual in Spanish and English. After moving to the United States, she participated in the dual-language programs at grant elementary and North Salem High school. She is currently working with MERIT to complete her Spanish language capstone project.
Chris D. Sanchez
Chris grew up in Beaverton, Oregon and is currently attending Oregon State University. He is majoring in Business Information Systems and looks forward to graduating in 2021. Some of his favorite pastimes include listening to music and watching sports. Chris is interning here at Merit, expanding his business experience and hopes to use what he learns to jumpstart his career.
Board of Directors