Meet the Team

JESSICA HAND

Executive Director

jessica@thriveumpqua.com

Jessica is proud of her rich heritage in the Umpqua region where her ancestors started ranching along the North Umpqua River in the mid 1800’s. During Jessica’s education and early years of her career, she had the opportunity to experience the positive impact of living in two Blue Zone communities, Loma Linda and the Beach Cities. Jessica graduated from Loma Linda University with honors in a Master of Public Health and also majored in Health Promotion/Marketing. Over the last 17 years, Jessica has managed community health and worksite wellness programs spanning a variety of sectors including manufacturing and healthcare. She has received additional training as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).

 

JOHN DIMOF

Strategic Partnerships Director

john@thriveumpqua.com

John Dimof is the Strategy and Partnership Director for Blue Zones Project, Umpqua. Over the past three years he has worked with over 60 organizations in the Umpqua region focusing on supporting their well-being efforts. Developing innovative models to educate the community in preventative lifestyle medicine, he founded and is current President of a 501-c3 non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the health of Douglas County residents. His history includes 9 years PNW Regional Director for an international non-profit, international trainer, construction manager for collaborative community projects, and certifications in nutrition from PCRM, and the Center for Nutritional Studies.

JULIETE PALENSHUS

Community Engagement Director

juliete@thriveumpqua.com

Juliete is committed to the achievement of a vibrant and thriving community. She serves as a community leader and champion for well-being in her roles as the Community Engagement Director for Blue Zones Project-Umpqua, Executive Director of UC-VEG, the Community Advisory Council Vice Chair for the Umpqua Health Alliance, and a member of the Umpqua Valley Arts Association Board of Directors and 2018 Summer Arts Festival Chair. Graduating with honors from Central Washington University, Juliete earned a degree in International Relations, with minors in Spanish, Latin American Studies, and Environmental Studies. Her professional background includes government, social services, and nonprofit management. She has had the privilege of traveling extensively and holds the breadth of experience gained from her national and international travels as invaluable. Juliete enjoys singing, spending time on the Umpqua rivers, yoga in the park, social justice, bringing people together, eating delicious plant-based foods, and laughing with her friends and family. 

MAGDY EL-BADRY

Food Retail Lead

magdy@thriveumpqua.com

Magdy El-badry joined the Thrive Umpqua team to encourage the retail sector to promote healthier lifestyles. Working for the largest natural food distributor in the country, he spent the last six years distributing healthy food to all the natural food stores in Southern Oregon. He has also been a long time advocate for plant-slanting, low processed foods, and believes food should be close to its natural state. He, along with his wife, love growing food in a small space and cooking plant-based food.

REBECCA WARREN

Office and Events Assistant

connect@thriveumpqua.com

Rebecca started her journey with Thrive Umpqua as a dedicated volunteer while she completed her bachelor’s degree at Portland State University. Her academic focus on health and aging led her to discover the research and principles of Blue Zones, sparking a passion for Thrive Umpqua’s mission. Drawing from her extensive experience in community events, diverse roles within various businesses, and her strong desire to connect people with valuable resources, Rebecca was an ideal candidate for the Office and Events Assistant position with Thrive Umpqua. A committed lifelong learner and creative soul, Rebecca finds joy in engaging in pursuits like photography, song-writing, art-making, and flower arranging. Her ideal day involves simple pleasures like immersing herself in nature, enjoying a good cup of coffee or tea, sharing hearty laughter, offering support, and forming meaningful connections. Rebecca’s passion is ignited when exploring and seeking new horizons with purpose and continuous learning. With a penchant for reading, she enjoys an average of 12-15 books at any given time. Rebecca prioritizes personal growth and well-being dedicating time daily to practices like yoga, qigong, and walking meditations.