As most of you know, in Spring of 2021, Samantha Gladu announced that she would be stepping down as Executive Director of Next Up and Next Up Action Fund. Thanks to Samantha’s three years of leadership, she collaboratively built a visionary 5 year strategic plan that set strong policies and values in place that will guide us now and into the future through staff and leadership transitions, shifting priorities, and changing political landscapes. Samantha in her time and work at Next Up helped sharpen our focus, deepen and live out our values, and prepare us to continue to build power with young people.
When she told us that she would be stepping down, we began the search for our next strategic and visionary Executive Director.
After a 5 month process, we’re excited to announce that Elona J Wilson will be joining us as our next Executive Director, and has officially started. As supporters of our work, we wanted you to hear this exciting news first and learn more about Elona.
We chose Elona because of her experience in advocacy, fundraising, coalition-building, and her deep commitment to fighting for the issues we passionately work for, such as youth justice, racial justice, and voting rights. She will make Next Up an even more impactful organization as we continue our work across Oregon.
Elona brings a deep understanding of organizing communities towards self-determination, wellness, justice, and prosperity. From her years at the Coalition of Communities of Color and Stand for Children, she gained deep policy and organizing experience in addressing socioeconomic disparities, institutional racism, and inequity of services experienced by families and students of color. Experienced in electoral campaigns, including ballot measures and candidate endorsements, she has also emerged as a leader in the Reimagine Oregon project, working with Black leaders from diverse backgrounds. Elona knows how important Next Up’s work with partners is to ensure that justice becomes the pillar that holds up our communities here in Oregon.
On behalf of the boards of Next Up and Next Up Action Fund, we want to thank Kenya (Interim Executive Director) and Samantha (Previous Executive Director) for all of their contributions to Next Up. We’re excited for Elona to build on our strong foundation in the coming months and years.
Let’s continue to work together to build an Oregon where young people boldly lead the state forward, our democracy is inclusive and accessible, and our communities are strong and resilient.
Luis Velasco, Next Up Board Chair
Michelle Hicks, Next Up Action Fund Board Chair