Born in Zaïre now known as RDC and raised in Portland,Oregon, Helen Buitanda works for Genentech, a biotechnology company where she creates patient access to medications here in the Portland metro area. Helen completed her graduate studies in healthcare management from Oregon Health and Science University’s school of medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing. Helen is passionate about serving others and her community, not only with AWC, she also holds two important roles as a Diversity Equity and Inclusion lead and a professional development & treasurer within her organization where she facilitates and drives the company’s North Star in becoming an inclusive place to work. Helen joined AWC in 2013, since then she has held a few roles and was very instrumental in the revival of the organization to its current state.
AWC Interim Secretary
Isatou is originally from The Gambia, West Africa. She came to the USA to attend university and graduated from Portland State University School of Business with a Finance and Economics degree. During her time in school, Isatou worked at the Immigrant, Refugee and Community Organization as a Youth Program Coordinator supervising a team of staff members that provided culturally specific programming to African students and their families. She served as a Youth Member on Governor Kate Brown's Youth Development Council, and advised on matters of youth engagement, and program fundings. Isatou also served on the board of other city councils, and nonprofit organizations in the Portland area.
Isatou now works as a financial analyst, and has worked in various industries in the finance sector. She loves working with young people, and helping small business owners create a business foundation from creating a business plan to a financial plan.
Esther Lugalia -Imbuye
AWC Board Adviser
Originally from Kenya, Esther is the 7th child of a family of 10 children. She completed her high school education in Kenya and traveled abroad to further her university studies. Esther graduated from Portland State University with a BSc and shortly afterwards was employed by Multnomah County. Her career with the County has spanned 30 years.
Esther’s strong belief of working together to be a part of the solution has made her engage in many community building activities from bible study groups, hiking groups to community based organizations such as AWC, CIO and Beaverton Diversity Advisory Council. Helping many of our vulnerable and underserved population in the community and building partnerships has forged long lasting friendships.
She has been a member of African Women’s Coalition for over 20 years and has served in various capacities as needed during this period.
AWC Board Adviser
A founding member of the AWC, rejoined the Board in 2008. She is a local business owner with an extensive background in the financial industries, where she has worked on regulatory compliance, International banking, consumer lending, among other things. A graduate of Portland State University, and co-founder of African Student Association. She is a board member of The Ray of Hope Foundation. Jeska is proud to have served on former Mayor Tom Potter's Vision PDX Project and hopes to see the progress of that project through the ongoing work of Vision into Action. She believes in activism as a means to social change.
AWC Technology Adviser
A mother of a gorgeous daughter, originally from Eritrea, East Africa. Alem is a long-time Eritrean-American community organizer and advocate, especially empowering immigrants and refugee women and children. She has joined and led many Eritrean solidarity coalition building conferences, summits, and rallies, including political and human rights campaigns, and she has volunteered and worked with different ethnic groups, governments, and non-governmental organizations for many years.
Alem is a founding member of the African Women's Coalition in 2003, serving on the Board until 2005, and again since 2018. She is also co-founded Eritreans for Justice and serves on its Executive Committee, chairs the Executive Board of the Eritrean Global Solidarity for National Dialog, serves as Board Member and Speaker for the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Speakers Bureau of the City of Portland, OR, and a member of African Leadership Development of the Africa House and Center for Intercultural Organizing.
In addition to over fifteen years of IT professional work experience, Alem has a M.S. degree in Management and Organizational Leadership from Warner-Pacific College, a B.S. in Management Information Systems from Portland State University (PSU), and an AAS in Computer Information Systems from Portland Community College (PCC).
Alem is an activist for civil rights and social justice issues and she stands firm in her beliefs on the value present of diverse, equitable, inclusive racial social justice, and equal opportunity for all.