Executive Director / Founder
Who is Mercy?
Born in Liberia, West Africa, she migrated to the United States of America with other family members as refugees and lived in Memphis for her first two years then moved to Minnesota in 2003. In 2009, Mercy moved to Portland, Oregon, and later enrolled in Concordia University School of Social Work as a transfer student, 2014-2017. She graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) Degree.
As a student, Mercy worked in many capacities: Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA II), Community Health worker (CHW) and Community Liaison, while volunteering regularly. During these times, she develops a passion for working with others, specially with those who have gone through life trauma like she has, to help bring a peace of mind and healing to them.
Because of her lived experiences and passion, she understands that after a person has experienced a real-life trauma for many years as a refugee, or in any situation, it is not easy to simply unwind from those experiences. She understands that it takes people who care and understand (mentors, coaches, teachers and social workers) to help manage those experiences. As a result, she likes to work with individuals in communities to understand their unique needs and to help them find healthy perceptions of themselves which strengthen their ability to navigate the system for resources, which many times is not easy to navigate.
When she is not at work, she continues to work on Mercy Connections by connecting with individuals and other businesses and many other projects in the community that help people, spending time with her family, and travelling the Oregon Coast to enjoy its beauty.
How did she get here?
With her experiences working with communities, her passion for helping others deepen, especially when she thinks of her life in refugee camps. In the refugee camps where she lived for many year, she watched how often death would occurs. Death in the refugee camp occurs to a point as if it was a norm to watch people died. Even though we were not on the ground where war was being fought, we continued to die almost daily. Mercy beliefs that people in the camps were dying because besides the lack of basic needs such as food, water, proper sanitation, medicine, housing and the stress of living in refugee camps, it was simply due to the lack of people who care.
In our communities here in Portland, she has also observed and learned that people are still faced with lot of other challenges in the African refugees and immigrant communities: many have no health insurance, they lack of culturally specific education on the harmful use of tobacco and various other drugs, someone to advocate for the older adults, families and individuals who cannot, especially in the doctor’s office. In addition, she has also observed that many young people do not see or go beyond high school education.
She love to work with these communities to change that by seeking information and connecting people and resources. Because of her lived experiences and passion, she understands that after a person has experienced a real life trauma for many years as a refugee, it is not easy to simply unwind from those experiences. It takes people who care and understand (mentors, coaches, teachers and social workers) to help manage those experiences. As a result, she loves to work with adults, families and individuals in communities, especially the refugees, immigrant and non-immigrants communities to understand their unique needs and to help them find healthy perceptions of themselves to strengthen their ability navigating the system for resources, which many times is not easy to navigate.
With the following degree, certification, and experiences, she hopes do the work set before her.
Mr. Kwabena Siaka serves as the President of the Mercy Connections board of directors.
Professionally, Mr. Siaka is the founder and CEO of Value Creation Education and Counseling Services (VCC) whose focus is on behavioral health and substance abuse counseling. As an author, researcher, and program evaluator, he believes in helping other leaders grow in their passion.
When he is not working, he enjoys taking road trips, camping exploring, coastal towns and local neighborhoods as well as hanging out with friends.
Mr. Kwabena Siaka
Mbete Dunbar serves as a member of Mercy Connections, Inc. Board of Directors.
Originally from Liberia, she atteded Warner Pacific College. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Development/Services and an Associate of Science Degree in Criminal Justice/Corrections from Portland Community College.
Professionally, Mbete works in Community Corrections as a Lead Security who focuses on the re-integration of justice involving individuals into the community. She is analytical and enjoys problem-solving, with the belief that everyone needs an opportunity to be heard, included, and represented in order to build a successful community where we can all thrive.
During her spare time, she enjoys hiking, bowling, traveling, karaoke, and attending fashion events/modeling.
Branden Banks was born in Pennsylvania, raised in Texas, and has lived in Oregon since 2002. He is a college graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.
Branden has spent the last two decades helping companies leverage computer software to streamline business processes, and empower employees while strengthening relationships with their customers. Prior to joining the board at Mercy Connections, Branden was on Beaverton’s Human Rights Advisory Commission and continues to work with Free Geek, Habitat for Humanity, Playworks Pacific Northwest, and Beaverton Black Parent Union.
Branden enjoys cooking, the outdoors, watching sporting events, spending time with his family, and traveling beyond his current tally of 30 countries and 50 US states.
Isaac Armstrong is a Senior Information Management Specialist plying his trade in the Oil and Gas and the Medical Devices industries.
He is a social entrepreneur with three social enterprises in his name. He is a published author with three books to his credit.
He is also an alumnus of the Harvard Business School and the University of Ghana.
Candice Eng was born in Forest Grove, Oregon, and was raised in Portland, Oregon. She graduated with a degree in Social Work from Concordia University.
Candice first started working in special education at Portland Public Schools. Throughout her career, she has worked in diverse settings with youth who have learning, mental, emotional, and or physical disabilities.
Candice uses her experience, education, and training to take care of foster children by providing respite care for foster parents as well as taking in foster children for long-term placements.
Board of Directors Position
We are always looking for committed individuals that can help us achieve our goals to connect to empower Africans and their communities.
Please fill up the following form and we will contact you. We will love to meet you in person so, you can experience first hand our passion for our community and the services we provide for them.