Mission Statement

To bring together caring adults and talented, under-resourced children to make the dream of a college degree a reality.

Vision Statement

Marathon Scholars believes that higher education is life changing and should be accessible to all who aspire. We believe that personal, long-term relationships have the ability to transform the lives of both our Scholars and their mentors.


  • We believe that opportunity can change a life.
  • We desire to share experience and good fortune with kids who have less.
  • We believe in the need to act; not just discuss.
  • We desire to have a direct, long-term impact on the life of a child.
  • We desire to expand a child’s view of the possible.
  • We believe that a mentor’s participation will benefit the mentor as much or more than the Scholar.


Marathon was founded in Portland, Oregon, by eight friends on September 11, 2002. In the aftermath of the events of 9/11, these friends were united by their desire to make a meaningful difference in their community. Struck by the low high school and college graduation rates among children from low-income families, they developed a model of a long-term, one-on-one relationship between a child (“Scholar”) and an adult (“Partner”).


Marathon Founders

The organization’s original name, Marathon Education Partners, reflected its mission. “Marathon” signified that the journey to college for a child is much like an actual marathon and requires practice, hard work, perseverance and help along the way. “Education” was the ultimate goal, and the adult mentors in the program acted as ‘Partners’ to their Scholars and encouraged Scholars to envision themselves as college-bound.

In 2003 the first class of Marathon Scholars was recruited. New Scholars have been recruited each year since. In 2014, Marathon Education Partners became Marathon Scholars and entered a brand new era of serving children and removing the obstacles that exist for under-resourced students striving to achieve their educational dreams.

Annual Reports

2016 Annual Report

2014 Annual Report

2013 Annual Report

2012 Annual Report


Stephen Wasserberger, Executive Director

SW PhotoStephen built a very successful architecture practice before switching gears to serve the community through a variety of distinguished non-profit roles.  Those included his terms as President of the Board for the University Club of Portland and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon & SW Washington. Most recently Stephen served as the Executive Director of Martha and Mary Ministries, a non-profit provider of hospice care. Stephen is excited to get to work advancing the mission at Marathon Scholars by expanding the number of children we serve and bringing awareness to this incredible program.

Stephen is a University of Oregon alum, and enjoys spending time with his wife, training for triathlons, reading and cheering on the Ducks.

Molli Mitchell, Youth Program Director

Mitchell_pic_300Molli joined the Marathon Scholars team in August 2015. With 11 years of non-profit program management experience serving families experiencing trauma and 6 years as a mentor herself she brings a broad range of skills to support youth and mentor relationships. Molli holds a BS in Human Development and Family Studies as well as a Masters in Social Work, both from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. In her spare time, Molli enjoys cooking, spending time with friends, working to dismantle systemic oppression, being a part of a social justice-focused faith community, and jogging.

Brooke Adams, College Program Director

Brooke has worked in higher education since 2010 and is excited to be the College Program Director for our seniors in high school through our seniors in college. As a first generation college graduate she whole heartedly understands how college access and degree attainment can change the life of a first-gen student and open doors to worlds unknown.  A mentor since 2010, Brooke is passionate about the mission of Marathon Scholars and gains joy from seeing young people succeed. Brooke holds a Master’s degree in Social Work and certificate in Nonprofit Administration from Saint Louis University. Outside of work you will find Brooke cycling, running, reading, listening to podcasts, and hanging out in social-justice-focused community around Portland.


Board of Trustees

Andrea Angell
Managing Partner
Commercial Real Estate Investment, LLC


Born in Portland Oregon, raised in the San Francisco Bay area, Andrea is pleased to be back living in Portland. A graduate of Santa Clara University with a BS and an MBA, she is operating a family business focused on commercial and industrial real estate in the greater Portland metro area.

Luke Arehart
Retail Space Manager
Dynamic Resources International


Luke earned his Bachelor of Architecture and English degree from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. He is a contributing editor for portlandarchitecture.com and a volunteer for the Architects in Schools program produced by the Architectural Foundation of Oregon. Check out more of Luke’s posts at www.lukearehart.com

Claire Brown, JD
Tonkon Torp


Claire received her JD and MBA from Vanderbilt University where she was a Dean’s Scholar and inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma honors society. At Vanderbilt, she served as an officer of several clubs and was active in venture capital and startup activities. Claire also volunteered with the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, a nonprofit incubator and accelerator for early-stage companies. During her last year of graduate school, she spent a semester as a full-time intern with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement in New York City. Prior to starting her JD/MBA program, Claire was a financial intern for Obsidian Finance Group in Portland and a volunteer for a nonprofit in Tanzania. While a law student, she completed various legal internships, including with Mentor Graphics in Portland and as a summer associate at Tonkon Torp.

David Cheney, Chair
Cheney Consulting Services, LLC


David Cheney began working for several family businesses before starting his international career with Lafarge, a multinational construction materials firm. David advanced to leadership of the HR function of Lafarge’s North American Cement Division and was subsequently promoted to President of its industrial services subsidiary, Systech Environmental, in the waste and renewables sector. David’s diverse background includes work in multiple countries, on many product lines, with multiple functions. After a corporate merger, David moved with his wife, Dawn, to Oregon in 2016 to reunite family, and experience the state’s fantastic food, fishing and hiking possibilities. David runs a small business/HR consulting practice and spends a significant amount of time volunteering for causes he cares deeply about, including his role as Chair at Marathon Scholars.

Ted Gillette


Ted is founder and owner of Sprin2Life where he and Laura (oncology nurse) foster developmentally disabled young men. Their unique program utilizing Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS ) and Wooden’s Success Pyramid to help develop corrective pathways to maladaptive thinking and behaviors is now the model being sought by the DHS. Prior to starting his practice, Ted was with EMF Broadcasting as regional manager for eight years and led an ecumenical congregation in Lebanon, OR. He attended the University of Oregon and received his MDiv from George Fox College.

Susan Hayes
Senior Director, Director to Consumer Core Products and Programs


Born in Detroit, Michigan, Susan moved to Colorado as a young child and considers Colorado as home. An athlete throughout high school (Volleyball, Basketball, Track, and Tennis) Susan went to Carroll College (now Carroll University) in Waukesha, Wisconsin on academic and basketball scholarships and graduated with BS degrees in Mathematics and Psychology. Susan began her professional career as a computer programmer at Mountain Bell Telephone (US West) in Denver, Colorado moving up the ranks in the Technology organization and into a Software Development Management position. Along the way, Susan earned a MBA from the University of Colorado at Denver, and a Master’s Certificate in Program Management from the University of Denver. After leaving US West, Susan took a technology manager position at Nike and moved to Portland, Oregon. Susan is currently the Senior Director of Commerce Core capabilities in the Nike Digital Engineering organization.

John Hren
Portland Patrol


John is president of Portland Patrol, Inc. which helps to ensure the safety and security of individuals, businesses, and property in the downtown area. PPI serves as the “Safe” side of the Portland Business Alliance’s Downtown Clean & Safe Program that provides security and cleaning for Portland’s Business Improvement District. John is a retired Lieutenant from the Portland Police Bureau. A first-generation college student from St. Helens, OR, John graduated from the University of Oregon and knows first-hand the struggles of adapting to college life. John is one of the founders of New Avenues for Youth and served as Chair and board member of Advantis Credit Union.

Amy Keiter
Director External Communications


Amy is a communications, marketing, and PR professional with extensive experience in government, non-profit, and private sectors. Amy started her career in Portland as an editor at the Associated Press and then moved into radio news as an on-air news anchor at KINK-fm and then moved into a role in public relations at Kaiser Permanente. From there, a four year stint at Merix Corporation, where Amy managed their marketing communications efforts. Amy then joined the State’s efforts to grow the Oregon economy as a business development officer for Oregon’s economic development department. After four years, she was promoted to Governor Kulongoski’s staff, where she managed special projects. At the end of his second term, Amy moved back into the private sector where she led the community relations team at SolarWorld in Hillsboro.

Ka Moua
Senior WC Claim Technician
Liberty Mutual


Ka is the parent of one of our current scholars in her junior year of high school. Ka is very engaged with the Marathon Community and is an avid supporter of the program. Inspired by her daughters, Ka is enrolled at PCC and plans to enter PSU. Ka’s daughter is mentored and sponsored by former Trustees Joe & Ewa Campbell.


Mark Schlesinger
SVP, Senior Property Manager
The Schlesinger Company


Mark began his career as a professional photographer in Los Angeles working in the fashion and music industry. After several years Mark moved back to Portland to work for the family business, The Schlesinger Companies, where he serves as senior property manager overseeing over 1,000,00 square feet of commercial properties. Mark joined the Marathon family as mentor in 2016. The Schlesinger Family Foundation have been strong supporters of Marathon. His nephew, Josh, is also a mentor and sponsor. Mark received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Art Center College of Design. He is the immediate past President and former Board Member of Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) of Multnomah and Washington Counties, a former Board Member of Portland Center Stage, and a former Trustee for Legacy Good Samaritan, Emanuel Medical Center, and Emanuel Children’s Hospital Foundations. He is currently the Secretary of the Schlesinger Family Foundation, the immediate past board chair of Portland’s Downtown Clean & Safe, a board member of the University of Oregon Portland Council Advisory Board, and a Board Member of the Portland Business Alliance.

Ni’Cole Sims
Director of Admissions
De La Salle North Catholic High School
& proud mother of a Marathon Scholar


Ni’Cole Sims has years of experience working in higher education with positions ranging from advising to academic coaching. She has also taught college success courses at Portland State University. Her strong dedication and passion for the field of education was developed while an undergraduate student at Portland State University where she earned not just one, but four separate bachelor degrees. Yet, the greatest honor bestowed upon Ni’Cole while an undergraduate student at PSU was when she was selected from among the top students at PSU to deliver the student commencement speech. After completing her advanced degree in Educational Leadership and Policy, Ni’Cole went on to work at Pacific University as the Assistant Director of Graduate and Professional Admissions where she works to help students gain admission into more than 15 different health profession programs. With a commitment to social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion, Ni’Cole joined Northwest Regional Education Service District as the regional achievement collaborative coordinator. Most recently, she supported a Department of Education grant — the Opening Doors Project — through Portland Community College, which increases college and career opportunities for young women at Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility, providing support pre- and post-release. Ni’Cole is a proud mother of two sons, Malik – a Marathon Scholar – and A.J., and as a first-generation college student knows first-hand that low-income students face a number of barriers during their pursuit to earn a college degree, which is why she’s eager to be a part of the Marathon Community.

Sarah Williams
Clinical Manager, Lutheran Community Services
Owner, Bright Perspectives LLC


Sarah Williams completed a BS in elementary education at Abilene Christian University and worked as a Children’s Minister in Houston, TX for 5 years. Most of the children that she worked with, could very well have been Marathon scholars. Sarah was very active in the community, volunteered at the local school closest to the church building and started an after-school reading program the last year she was in Houston. She relocated to Minnesota to complete a Masters Degree and upon completion of her degree, began a 5-year career at The Bridge For Youth in Minneapolis, MN. The Bridge services runaway and homeless youth ages 12 to 21 in a variety of ways. She worked as a Youth Counselor, Family Counselor, and Clinical Supervisor. Sarah has been a licensed marriage and family Therapist for 5 years in MN and OR and is currently launching her own private practice. She is a mother of two future college graduates, currently ages 6 and 4 and is passionate about the value and benefit of a top quality education for all children. Sarah is a strong believer in community building and increasing societal equity in every possible way.

Gloria Zabel
Chief of Staff
Lattice Semiconductor


Gloria joined Lattice Semiconductor in 2010 and is currently the Company’s Chief of Staff driving strategic corporate initiatives and leading the Communications, Corporate Marketing and Investor Relations teams. She also leads the company’s People Operations to drive innovative people initiatives leveraging the company’s diverse, global talent. She has spent much of her career leading strategic projects, spearheading marketing programs and focusing on leadership development and corporate culture. Gloria is an alum of the Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Executive Leadership Development and holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and International Business from the University of Akron.