Stepping Stones Alliance in Hermiston Hires New Staff

HERMISTON — Stepping Stones Alliance in Hermiston has a new executive director.

Jesalyn Cole has been in the position since Feb. 6 and joins other recent hires, the nonprofit announced in a written statement Tuesday, Feb. 14.

Cole oversees Stepping Stones’ mission of providing individuals experiencing homelessness in Umatilla County with shelter, basic needs and support that can lead to stability, as well as the goal of organizational sustainability.

Prior to joining Stepping Stones Alliance, Cole worked in Washington state as the executive director of the Historic Downtown Prosser Association for five years, and as the fundraising and event manager at Heartlinks Hospice. She also served for five years on the Prosser School Board.

“I’m excited to hit the ground running and make a positive impact,” she said. “Stepping Stones is fortunate to have an amazing board and mission with strong partners in the local area. My first evening in the Sleep Center was a very positive experience and cemented for me how vital this effort is and how this organization is helping to give a hand up to those in need. I can see why so many volunteers come back and are so supportive of what Stepping Stones is doing at the Sleep Center.”

Cole also is bilingual in Spanish with a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and recently completed coursework at Boston University for her professional fundraising certification. Prior to her career working in the nonprofit sector, she was a public school teacher working in Renton, Tacoma, and Prosser and in Mexico.

In addition to Cole, Stepping Stones has hired Carolina Delgado as the director of its Navigation Center, Cindi Jorgensen as the Sleep Center coordinator and Kris Barnum as project planner.

Delgado will be connecting guests and members to resources within the community and assisting them to make and meet goals. She is originally from the San Diego area but has been in Hermiston for 19 years. Before joining Stepping Stones on Jan. 30, Delgado worked for nine years as a peer support specialist/community health worker.

The launching of the Navigation Center as part of the Stepping Stones Center is a much-needed and anticipated addition to the Sleep Center and will connect the community resources with the guests who need them, according to the press release.

Stepping Stones is the contractor for the cities of Umatilla, Hermiston, Stanfield, Echo and for Umatilla County on Project PATH — Practical Assistance Through Transitional Housing. The project started in part through an Oregon House bill that gave eight pilot programs funding for locally led, regional homeless housing coordination.

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