Staff | Chalkboard Project

Staff

Briana Babbitt
Operations Associate

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Briana brings a passion for fostering our shared responsibility for the well-being of Oregon’s children. She coordinates Chalkboard Project’s day-to-day operations and builds dynamic systems that empower the organization to work ambitiously and effectively toward a more equitable and just Oregon.

Most recently, Briana served as the Executive Assistant and Board Liaison for All Hands Raised, where she was immersed in the collective effort to ensure racial equity and quality education throughout Multnomah County schools and community colleges. Before All Hands Raised, Briana was the Executive Assistant and Office Manager at Reading Results. She is also an active volunteer with the Rose City Rollers.

Whitney Grubbs
Executive Director

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Whitney is a strategist, leader, and collaborator who has worked in education and public policy in Oregon for fifteen years. She leads Chalkboard Project’s program, policy, and strategy development; engages with Oregonians statewide to better understand community values and priorities; and forges public, private, and civic partnerships that pursue a more just future for children and families. To sustain meaningful progress, she believes in matching the urgency to act with a commitment to building trust, centering communities, and gathering broad input.

Whitney previously championed strategic investments in children and schools as a senior policy advisor and Director of State & Regional Alignment for Governor John Kitzhaber, and as Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for the Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB). She currently serves on the boards of All Hands Raised and the Oregon Community Partnership, and guides the Oregon Business Council’s Education Task Force as an Oregon Learns Fellow.

Amanda Manjarrez
Public Policy & Government Affairs Director

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Amanda Manjarrez brings creative leadership and a deep commitment to social justice to her work at Chalkboard Project. A longtime advocate for racial equity and good governance, she collaborates with schools and school districts, education leaders, nonprofit partners, unions, professional associations, and culturally specific organizations to co-design, test, and champion systems change strategies that deliver lasting impact for Oregon’s children and families.

Previously, Amanda was the Director of Advocacy at Latino Network, where she developed the organization’s statewide policy agenda, oversaw civic leadership programs, and managed coalition relationships at the federal, state, and local level. She has also served as Advocacy Director for the Coalition of Communities of Color, and as Chief Strategist at the Center for Civic Policy in Albuquerque. She is an active member of the New Mexico state bar and serves on the boards of the Oregon Center for Public Policy and Common Cause Oregon.

Janet Soto Rodriguez
Deputy Director

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Janet began her career as a high school teacher. Her former students’ energy and stories drive her work at Chalkboard Project, where she reframes what’s possible when Oregonians come together to tackle the root causes of inequity. Working hand in hand with community partners, she has navigated the Legislature, state agencies, and local governments to co-create and implement policies that more fairly serve children and families across Oregon.

Prior to Chalkboard, Janet served as the Economic and Business Equity Policy Advisor to Governor Kate Brown, as a Public Affairs Specialist for Governor John Kitzhaber, and as Policy and Advocacy Director at the Bus Project. Most recently, she was a director and strategist at Business Oregon, where she worked to disrupt the cycle of poverty in rural communities. She also serves on the Oregon Rural Development Council and on the board of Latino Network’s affiliated 501(c)4.

Whitney Swander
Data and Research Manager

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Grounded in the belief that communities hold deep knowledge about the complex challenges they face, Whitney has spent a decade collaboratively developing data-driven solutions through thoughtful and rigorous inquiry. She guides Chalkboard Project’s efforts to reimagine how Oregon’s data systems pinpoint pervasive disparities, and co-designs research with community partners to advance system change for children and families. 

Most recently, Whitney was Director of Data and Evaluation at Better Together, where she partnered with local communities to establish and grow cross-sector data and evaluation capacity. She previously led regional education initiatives such as the Central Oregon STEM Hub and Teach Central Oregon, and served as Assistant Director of the Latino Community Association of Central Oregon. She is also a member of the City of Bend’s Planning Commission, the Redmond Housing and Community Development Committee, and the advisory board for the Oregon Community Foundation's statewide and Central Oregon Latino Partnership Program.

Louis Wheatley
Strategic Communications Director

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Louis has woven a passion for democratizing ideas and animating dialogue throughout his career. At Chalkboard Project, he collaborates with communities and organizations statewide to imagine how local stories can catalyze systemic change. By convening Oregonians around shared work and elevating narratives that spark curiosity, he seeks to upend entrenched beliefs and divisions that impede progress for children.

Before joining Chalkboard, Louis was the director of programming and associate publisher at a nonprofit civic forum and ideas magazine in Los Angeles. He was previously based in Budapest for the communications arm of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), covering rural development in the post-Soviet region. He also serves on the board of Mission: Citizen, a youth-led civic education nonprofit in Portland.