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Staff

Headquarters: Portland, Oregon

PEG SANDEEN, PhD, MSW
Executive Director

Death with Dignity executive director Peg SandeenPeg is a native Iowan. She specializes in issues related to terminal illness and end-of-life processes. She has an extensive background in policy analysis and strategic leadership for policy reform efforts through both ballot initiative and legislative means.

Prior to her engagement with the National Center, she was the Executive Director of the AIDS Project of Central Iowa. As a result of her exploration of complex ethical, legal and medical issues related to social work, Peg was named a Price Fellow in HIV Prevention Leadership by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Her scholarly and professional efforts focus on health-related ethical concerns, particularly end-of-life decision-making, and the impact of public opinion on policy reform.

Peg joined Death with Dignity in 2005.

SHAUN FAIRLEE
Outreach Coordinator

Originally from Colorado, Shaun was attracted to Portland’s unique culture after stints in many other American cities. He began working for Death with Dignity due to his strong belief in personal choice. In his spare time, Shaun paints, writes, and practices yoga.

Shaun is the organization’s longest-tenured employee, working with us since 2004.

AMY HARRIS
Leadership Giving Manager

Our newest staff member, Amy joined Death with Dignity in May 2018. Her extensive background in the nonprofit sector includes working at three national health nonprofits. Her roles have ranged from program and volunteer management to marketing and communications.

Amy began in the development field five years ago. She found her vocation when she discovered the deep joy in building donor relationships and helping people support the causes they care about most.

Amy arrived in Portland in 2003 following a long stint of travel that included time in Central America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. When Amy isn’t hiking Oregon’s backcountry or biking its quiet valley roads, you can find her reading a good book or planning her next trip.

DEVIDA JOHNSON
Operations and Fiscal Manager

DeVida is a returning staff member. She first joined our team in 2008, when she moved to Oregon, and was our Development Manager until 2014, when she left to step back into the world of animal welfare and work at Project POOCH.

Prior to moving to Oregon, DeVida had lived in Vermont and worked at the Humane Society of Chittenden County in their fundraising and public relations department.

Twenty-one years ago, DeVida lost her mother to lung cancer. Witnessing her mother’s struggle with such a debilitating disease spurred her support of an individual’s right to die a good and dignified death. She joined the National Center to work in support of this right, and is thrilled to be part of the team once again!

DeVida is an honors graduate of Wellesley College where she studied French and Economics. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, baking, birding, hiking, and spending quality time with her two- and four-legged family members.

PETER KORCHNAK
Digital Communications Manager

Death with Dignity employee Peter KorchnakPeter hails from Slovakia where he received his BA in marketing and commerce from the University of Economics in Bratislava. Following graduate studies in international relations at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, and in political science at the Leiden University in Leiden, the Netherlands, he relocated to Portland where he has worked in the nonprofit sector since 2006.

He is a published author and blogger, and a co-founder of the travel website Where Is Your Toothbrush?. He loves to travel, play rec-league ice hockey, and brew beer.

Peter joined Death with Dignity in 2015.

REBECCA SCHLESSINGER
Content Manager

Rebecca SchlessingerRebecca comes to Portland by way of California, Vermont, Louisiana, and…Portland, where she lived from 2007-2011, and where she has chosen to make her home once again. For over a decade, Rebecca has worked as a journalist and writer-editor for a variety of news outlets, nonprofits, and early-stage startup companies. Her work has always been informed by her passion for and dedication to social justice, human rights, and personal choice.

Rebecca is excited to be settled in Portland, where she and her husband enjoy hiking, cooking, discovering new music, and exploring the city’s culinary landscape.

Rebecca joined Death With Dignity in 2017.

ELIA LAWATSCH
Social Worker

Elia Lawatsch

Elia Lawatsch holds a Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University. She has worked with survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence and individuals with cognitive impairments. She supervised an assisted living facility for adults with disabilities, and is the Crime Victim Volunteer Coordinator for the Napa County District Attorney’s Office.

She puts her clinical skills to work providing callers with resources and referrals and offering support for those confronting illness or loss. Elia joined Death with Dignity in late 2017.

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On the Ground

GEOFF SUGERMAN
Campaign Strategist (National)

Geoff SugermanGeoff Sugerman is a veteran of political campaigns, including as campaign manager for the Oregon Death with Dignity Act in 1994 and 1997, in more than 30 years of political work in Oregon and Texas.

He has worked with high-level political leaders, including Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts (speechwriter, 1991) and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower. Beginning in 1992 he ran a successful political consulting firm, working with former Oregon Governors Ted Kulongoski and John Kitzhaber, US Senator Ron Wyden, and dozens of legislative candidates.

Following a four-year stint as communications director for Oregon House Speaker Dave Hunt (2007-2011), Geoff was hired to pass a bill in 2013 licensing and regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon. He was then part of the effort to implement the new law, helping to craft relevant regulations.

Since coming back to work for the National Center in 2016, Sugerman has helped craft political strategies and messaging. He lives in Silverton, Oregon.

MARK GLAZE
Campaign Strategist (District of Columbia/National)

mark_glazeMark is a seasoned strategist in public affairs, advocacy and politics. He manages complex national and state issue campaigns, using all the tools of modern advocacy, to improve public policy on some of the toughest issues we face, against some of the most powerful special interests.

Mark’s clients have included some of the largest nonprofits and advocacy organizations in the United States, including the Open Society Institutes, the American Federation of Teachers, the Human Rights Campaign and Amnesty International.

Prior to beginning his private consulting practice in June 2014, Mark – the son of a former licensed gun dealer and NRA member – served as executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety, the nation’s largest gun violence prevention group. According to the Wall Street Journal, after the Newtown mass shooting, Glaze became “the face of the gun control movement.”

Mark is an honors graduate of the George Washington University Law School and The Colorado College, where he was a Truman Foundation Scholar. He also served as an advisor to the Commission on Federal Election Reform led by Former President Jimmy Carter and Former Secretary of State James Baker.