About Us

Building Blocks to Success mission is to get ethnically and gender diverse at-risk youth excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) through exposure and participation in STEM-related programs and activities.

Executive Director

Antonio Jackson

AntonioAntonio is a native of Portland, OR and it has had a lifelong passion to work with youth to inspire and encourage them to reach their full potential. He co-founded BB2S in 2013 after many years of being a mentor to hundreds of youth in the Portland metropolitan area. He takes pride in being a positive example in the community by being involved in the lives so many.

Antonio received his Bachelor’s Degree from Portland State University in Business Administration. Shortly after graduation, he joined Daimler Trucks North America (formally Freightliner) in which he worked his way up through the Procurement Department starting off as an entry level buyer to managing over $100 million in component purchases annually as a Purchasing Agent. He’s worked on many Global Procurement teams and has worked in many different countries over his tenure there. In 2008, Antonio took on a Procurement role at Banfield Pet Hospital, a subsidiary of Mars Corporation. While at Banfield, Antonio developed cost savings programs, negotiated contracts, managed the vendor development processes, and lead supplier evaluations to ensure the Practice had uninterrupted supply of products for their over 940 hospital locations.

Over the years, Antonio’s passion for his community has lead him to sit on numerous boards: Inner-City Sports Ministries, Portland Housing Center, Broussard Foundation, and the Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program (ORTOP). He has also been a youth football and basketball coach, high school football coach at Central Catholic, youth ministry leader at New Song Community Church, mentor with the Leisure Hour Jr. Golf Program, mentor with the Perspective Gents Club, and a STEAM Committee Community Partner for the 3toPhD program at Concordia University.

Antonio is a husband and father of three children in addition to being a father figure to many other youth in the community.

Board of Directors

Brian Garish, Chair

Brian GarishAs a passionate professional driven by purpose-driven leadership, Brian has more than 20 years of leadership experience building diverse, engaged and successful teams. An accomplished strategist and leader, his vision and expertise in team building and business performance have driven notable growth in the veterinary and pharmacy industries.

Today, as President of Banfield Pet Hospital, Brian oversees the largest veterinary practice in the world, including more than 975 hospitals and 16,000 associates. His vision for the company is grounded in past leadership of hospital operations, company growth and corporate partnerships at Banfield, and his goal is to strengthen Banfield’s culture, further improve its quality and efficiency of care, and maximize business success.

Brian’s exceptional record of business improvement is based on a pragmatic approach and implementation of a reflective learning environments. Leveraging critical thinking skills, he’s renowned for his ability to hastily identify and diagnose impediments to business growth.

Brian also serves on the board of the Banfield’s charitable arm, the Banfield Foundation, which is committed to improving the well-being of pets and communities by elevating the power of the pet-human bond, strengthening the pet-welfare community, providing disaster relief for pets, and advancing the science of veterinary medicine through innovation and education.

Richard Allen Probasco, Vice Chair

richPastor Richard Probasco has been involved in ministry in the Portland area for over 50 years and as the Senior Pastor of New Song Community church for over 39 years. As a native Oregonian he and his wife of 40 years, Patrishia, have served together shepherding New Song Community Church since June of 1977.  They are the parents of six adult children and nine grandchildren.

Pastor Probasco is the President of New Song International; the covering organization to churches and ministries around the world. Richard has made a major impact on the business community as a private consultant and mentor to young entrepreneurs. He has invested time sitting on the boards of educational, evangelical ministries, world mission outreaches, and youth organizations.  In his spare time he has chosen to invest in land development of real estate projects in NE Portland on a small scale.

Richard has served on the advisory board for the Portland Development Commission, Board Member for Transitional Youth of Portland. Richard is currently serving as a volunteer personal advisor to pastors in the ministry.  In addition, Richard works with the Multnomah County Task Force for Gang Violence intervention.

Kaeti Namba, Secretary

kKaeti’s dedication and passion lies in developing resources for communities and groups that she can identify with. She has successfully raised more than $5 million dollars for the Native American Youth and Family Center. Communication has been at the root of her success; building relationships, engaging stakeholders, and forming collaborations. Through the use of digital and print media, she has been able to strategically plan and project manage websites, social media expansion, brand development, and digital fundraising. Her skills and experiences in development have allowed her to foster an understanding of intentional communication, fundraising, donor relations, and cultivation of foundation giving. She enjoys communications/marketing by planning and supporting short/long term objectives, advancing initiatives, fundraising events, and utilizing digital/social media storytelling to strengthen community and organizational goals.

Kaeti has served as a board member for the Oregon Nikkei Endowment (preserving Japanese history and culture). She also enjoys volunteering on the Public Involvement Advisory Council (PIAC) for the City of Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement. Additionally, Kaeti is a member of the Portland Business Alliance’s Leadership Portland 2015 Cohort and was a BB2S coach/mentor this past season for both a FLL team and Jr.FLL team. Her passion for giving back to her community shows in all of her hard work and involvement in so many different activities

Matt Berning, Treasurer

Matt BerningMatt is passionate about fostering creativity and team-work among youth. In addition to his role as Treasurer of BB2S, Matt volunteers as a coach for the organization’s LEGO Robotics programs (both FIRST LEGO League (FLL) and FIRST LEGO League Jr. (FLL Jr.)). He also mentors students at De La Salle North Catholic High School, and volunteers at Randall Children’s Hospital, where he plays the guitar and sings to patients and their families. Matt currently serves as a board member for the Friends of the Multnomah County Library.

Matt is a Portland native and a graduate of Lincoln High School. He studied accounting and finance at Trinity Univ. (San Antonio, TX), where he also played baseball. After earning a Master’s of Accounting at the Univ. of Southern California, Matt became a Certified Public Accountant. As a Manager in PricewaterhouseCooper’s San Francisco office, Matt focused on helping companies to better understand complex financial transactions.

Ernest E. Hartzog, PhD., Director

ernestAfter more than forty years in public and private education, Dr. Ernest Hartzog is semi-retired.  He remains active as a consultant in education and in community and organizational development with his wife Marilyn. Dr. Hartzog worked as a teacher, counselor, high school principal and director of district programs in San Diego, California.  While in San Diego, his distinguished work resulted in his being selected for a Rockefeller Foundation “Superintendent’s Internship”. During this period he served in the Detroit, Michigan and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania school systems.  Hartzog served as Assistant Superintendent of Portland Oregon Public Schools for 18 years. He worked as national consultant for the College Board in its Advanced Placement Program.  He owned the first Sylvan Learning Center Franchise in the United States for twenty years.  Today he is part owner of MJOD Consulting, a leadership and organizational development corporation.

Significant experience in Dr. Hartzog’s distinguished career includes work as an adjunct professor at California Western University, San Diego, and Portland State University, Portland Oregon.  He was a charter member and past president of the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE).  He was the founder and past president of the Oregon Alliance of Black School Educators (OABSE).  Other professional experience includes work as a consultant at the Center for Studies of The Person, in La Jolla, California and as a consultant for the National Training Laboratory for Applied Behavioral Sciences (NTL), in Washington D.C.  Dr. Hartzog served on the advisory boards of the “I Have a Dream” Foundation and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and on the executive board of OASIS, a senior volunteer organization.

Dr. Hartzog actively plays and volunteers in the sport of tennis.  He served as a national committee member for the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and as a member (former chair) of the Multicultural Participation Committee for the Pacific Northwest Section of the USTA.  He was founder of Portland After-School Tennis and Education (PASTE&E), a non-profit community tennis association.  He served as its present for seven years and currently serves on the board of directors.

Dr. Hartzog is a charter member of the Sigma Phi Boule in Portland and also is the Co-Founder of Building Blocks To Success.

Jason Hagen, Director

jasonJason is the current Director of Operations at Concordia University, serving from the Office of the President. A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason grew up in Seattle, WA and moved to Portland in 2001 where he attended Concordia University and was a 2005 graduate from the School of Education. Jason’s passion and desire to bring diverse, multi-cultural programing to the campus of Concordia has been vital to developing strong relationships with community organizations. Jason understands the importance of community involvement and the impact it has on the surrounding community and the students on campus. His drive and determination have helped to become a rising star to impact change for the community he serves.

Bruce Berning, Director

Bruce BerningBruce has a broad and diverse business law practice. Bruce has substantial experience in the law of corporations and other legal entities; commercial lending and corporate finance; buying and selling businesses; contracts; and real estate transactions. Bruce has served as general legal counsel for businesses in a wide range of industries, including real estate, printing, retail, hospitality, manufacturing, cold storage, ship repair and automobile sales. Bruce served as general counsel for Banfield Pet Hospital for more than twenty years, as the company grew from a single veterinary hospital to more than 900 hospitals and more than $1 billion in sales.

For more than thirty years, Bruce has represented commercial lenders in connection with the documentation of loans and financing transactions. Bruce has also represented borrowers in substantial financing transactions, including bank loans, real estate loans, private placements and public debt offerings. For several years in the earlier part of his career, Bruce handled litigation of business disputes in state and federal courts. In the 1980’s, Bruce also represented several financially-troubled businesses in working out arrangements with creditors. For many years, Bruce has served as a private arbitrator with respect to business and real estate disputes.

Bruce currently serves as a member of the Oregon Humane Society Building Committee. Bruce has served on the Boards of Directors of the Oregon Zoo Foundation and the Portland Parks Foundation. He was also a board member and president of Neighborhood Health Clinics, a nonprofit organization that provided medical care to the uninsured using volunteer doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other providers. Bruce has also served on the Hospital Facility Authority of the City of Portland and was a member of the citizen’s task force that drafted the first food cart ordinance for the City of Portland.

Serene Perkins, MD, Director

sereneR. Serene Perkins MD, FACS is the Director of Surgical and Clinical Research at Legacy Research Institute (LRI) in Portland, OR. She is also Director of the Legacy Institute for Surgical Education and Innovation, an ACS-Accredited Educational Institute, and the Co-Director of Legacy’s Cancer Research Program at LRI. She completed her M.D. from the Chicago Medical School (2000), her residency in General Surgery at Thomas Jefferson University (2006), and her fellowship in Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgical Oncology and Abdominal Organ Transplantation from the University of Toronto (2010). Her expertise in surgical education revolves around team training and leadership development.

Serene is an active member of several academic surgical organizations and has served on multiple committees committed to advancing global surgical education. She developed and facilitated educational collaboratives for health care providers between major institutions in India and the United States. She is the founder of the nonprofit organization, SCALPEL (Surgeons’ Consortium for the Advancement of Leadership and Peace through Laparoscopy) and the President of Ascent Liver and Pancreas Specialists, P.C. She currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Indian American Surgical Association (IASA) and is a board member of the Raphael House of Portland, the Children’s Cancer Association, and Cascade Heights Public Charter School. She also serves as a scientific advisor to the nonprofit Right 2 Health, an organization that examines the effects of racial disparity on health.

Joyce Braden Harris, Director

joyce harrisJoyce Braden Harris is an educator, speaker, writer, workshop trainer, facilitator, community activist, and advocate for justice and fairness. She is the Manager of Community Engagement in the Executive Office at Education Northwest. Prior to this position, Joyce served as the director of the Region X Equity Assistance Center (EAC) for twenty-one years providing training and technical assistance on race, gender and national origin in the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands.

At the age of 19, Harris co-founded the Black Educational Center (BEC) in Portland which she considers as one of her most rewarding experiences. She taught science clubs at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, was a national trainer for Playtime is Science an equity based approach to teaching parents how to engage their children in science activities. She was the math curriculum coordinator and teacher for the BEC. She has taught creative writing to talented and gifted students and wrote an essay on African American Traditions in Language Arts for Portland Public Schools. She continues to work with school districts, agencies, and community organizations on equity issues and compliance with federal civil rights laws.

She currently serves as co-chair of the African American/Black Student Success statewide advisory committee and is on the Early Learning Council’s Equity Subcommittee. She was recently appointed to serve on Oregon’s Every Student Succeeds Act Statewide Advisory Committee.

She is the recipient of many awards recognizing over 45 years of volunteer work. In 2015, the City of Portland Human Rights Commission presented her with a lifetime achievement award and the University of Oregon honored her with an award for outstanding service to Oregon. The Skanner newspaper awarded her the 2014 Drum Major for Justice Award, and she received a Woman of Excellence Award in Education from the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

She is the proud grandmother of 3-year-old Jenna and her 2-year-old sister Jordyn.   Joyce’s passion is collecting books and memorabilia that document the history and culture of people of African descent. Her personal library contains over 8,000 books. She has a B.A. degree in American Studies from Reed College, a B.S degree in Elementary Education from Oregon State University; a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Portland State University, and has completed doctoral course work at Oregon State University.

Andrew Ferguson, Director

Andrew FergusonAndrew is a fifth-generation Oregonian and successful entrepreneur and has lived in Clackamas County virtually all his life. Andrew co-founded SRC Software with two partners immediately after graduate school in 1988. SRC had regional offices in Boston, New York, Austin, Chicago, Atlanta, Tampa, San Diego and San Francisco; and international offices in Brussels, Stockholm, London, Australia, and Singapore. SRC was self-financed, always profitable, exhibited high growth, and provided business budgeting, planning, and reporting software services to medium to large corporations. As President and CEO, he was instrumental in building his company from zero to $100M in valuation over seventeen years. Andrew was responsible for all core business functions other than software development and software implementation services.

Andrew has been an active community volunteer all of his life, sitting on many charitable boards, school boards, coaching youth sports, and acting as an adult leader on numerous religious retreats. Andrew feels a strong imperative to give back to the community with time, talent, and treasure and actively pursues these types of endeavors. Recent Community Activities include: Responder Life – Board Member; Oregon Zoo Bond Advisory Group – Chairman; Oregon Zoo Foundation; Loaves and Fishes / Meals on Wheels; Arlington Club; Our Lady of the Lake; Jesuit High School; YEO / EU. Other organizations that Andrew and his wife Lisa support include: many local schools, Big Brothers / Sisters, Black Parent Initiative, Blanchet House, Down Syndrome Network of Oregon, Medical Teams International, American Red Cross, St. Vincent DePaul food drive, Oregon Food Bank, and the Boy Scouts.

Andrew has spent a significant portion of his free time assisting a myriad of individuals and organizations over the past several years. In some instances, he has made investments of time and talent, and occasionally cash. Some of these organizations include: eROI – Board, On Demand Analysis – acting CEO, Iterasi – sales consulting, Conenza – EVP/Consulting, Zloop – Mentor, Portland Leadership Foundation – Mentor, Black Parent Initiative – Mentor, Board, Cascade Web Development – Mentor, Alpha Card Systems – Investor

Andrew is first and foremost a husband and father. He spends a great deal of his time with his family. Andrew’s favorite pastimes include: coaching youth sports, competitive racquetball (Multnomah Athletic Club) hiking / trail blazing, watching movies with his family, photography, inventing (patent received May of 2013), whitewater rafting, public speaking, motorcycle riding.

Board Advisors

Charlene McGee, Sherrelle Jackson, Charles McGee II, Carl Talton, Eldridge Broussard