Meet the Team

JESSICA HAND, MPH

Executive Director

jessica@thriveumpqua.com

Jessica Hand channels her rich heritage in the Umpqua Valley into empowering communities for healthier living. With roots tracing back to her ancestors’ ranching legacy along the North Umpqua River, Jessica’s journey in public health has been shaped by her experiences in Blue Zone communities like Loma Linda and the Beach Cities and in international service opportunities in the Czech Republic, Nepal, and Peru to name a few. She holds a Master of Public Health degree from Loma Linda University in California as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Promotion from Walla Walla University. Jessica has over 18 years of leadership experience in the field of community health and worksite wellness. She previously worked as the Director of Wellness Strategy for a Maryland-based health management company where she developed turnkey wellness programs for large clients including Northrop Grumman and Johns Hopkins Medicine. In 2017, Jessica joined the Blue Zones Project-Umpqua team as Community Program Manager and is now the Executive Director of Thrive Umpqua. She is proud to work with a team of changemakers at Thrive Umpqua – working together to make our community a place where we can all thrive. Jessica loves gardening with her husband, experimenting with new recipes using locally grown produce that her two toddlers will enjoy, and traveling to other countries to experience new cultures and cuisines.

JOHN DIMOF

Strategic Partnerships Director

john@thriveumpqua.com

John Dimof is the Strategic Partnership Director for Thrive 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 Thrive Umpqua, Executive Director of UC-VEG, a Community Advisory Councilor 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.

MAGDY EL-BADRY

Organizations Assistant

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.