Board and Staff


Karen Meurer

Karen Meurer, Executive Director

Karen has been the Executive Director of PHOENIX since 2009. Karen served on the PHOENIX board for three years prior to joining the staff. Before moving to Oregon in 2006, she was a church relations associate at Bread for the World in Washington, DC; a director of Christian Education/Children’s and Family Minister at three United Methodist Churches in Maryland; and the Executive Director of Chesapeake Habitat for Humanity in Baltimore. She was also a campaign organizer at Partnership for Safety and Justice in Portland. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Indiana State University; a Master of Divinity from Southern Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky; and a Master of Liberal Arts from Johns Hopkins University. She received training in community organizing from the Industrial Areas Foundation in 2005 and has served as a trainer for local MACG Leadership Institutes.

“Though not a religious organization, PHOENIX has given me an outlet for working on the social justice values that are deeply embedded in my faith.”

Contact Karen: or (971) 645-0446

Emily Norquist, Intern and Public Health Specialist

Emily Norquist officially joined PHOENIX in September 2022 after meeting with Karen and Sherry in the spring. She grew up in New Jersey and spent some time living in Arizona and New York State before moving to Portland in 2017. In 2021, she earned a Bachelor of Science from PSU in Urban and Public Affairs with a minor in Community Health, and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health degree from the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, with a projected graduation of June, 2023. She has an eclectic personal and professional background, with all roads leading to public health; examples include working at a residential treatment center, working with youth in an afterschool program, and volunteering with local organizations that do community-engaged work to improve food and housing security. She believes in diverting power and resources from the prison industrial complex to social programs, and in ending the drug war, which she was personally impacted by. For these reasons, she is eager to become more involved in community organizing and relationship-building between people with diverse life experiences. She strives towards reflexive, culturally humble, and anti-racist practices in her thinking and actions. Emily is drawn to PHOENIX Rising Transitions because of their community-centered, community-led work and their principles of meeting people where they are and encouraging them to set their own goals, which are central tenants of her harm reductionist philosophy.


Board of Directors:

Sherry Archer, Board Treasurer

Jeff Gosda

Dave Kreisman

Dave Kreisman

David joined the PHOENIX board in the fall of 2015 after going into the prison each week for almost a year. He was born and raised in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at Madison, Wisconsin. He worked in medical device research for four years before deciding to stay at home with his two young sons for another four years. He then changed careers to IT and worked with enterprise software implementations in the electric utility industry for 18 years. During that time, he started meditating and exploring Buddhist spirituality and the integral theory of Ken Wilber. This gave him a passion for understanding how people see the world differently and how worldviews can change. A few years ago he and his wife moved to Portland, which created new opportunities for personal growth. At this point in his life he wants to support the major changes others want to make in their own lives, and PHOENIX Rising Transitions is a natural fit for this work.

Brad Vollmer

Brad Vollmer, Board Secretary