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Operation Nightwatch Board of Directors

The following individuals serve as our Board of Directors:

  • Claudia Roberts, SAIF (retired)
  • John Hoover, attorney (retired)
  • Judy Johnson, attorney
  • Kimberlee Jaynes, Kimberlee Jaynes Interior Designs
  • Melissa Bensink, Veterans Administration
  • Waylon Spoden, Organically Grown Company
  • Ciara Pressler, Pregame
  • Juliana DePietro, Central City Concern
  • Bergen Allee, Lexus of Portland
  • Michelle Madison, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Oregon chapter

Our Staff


Executive Director

Paul Underwood portrait

Paul Underwood began his tenure as Executive Director in July 2017. Paul has an extensive toolbox of skills ranging from homebuilder to mountaineer, and was most recently employed as the Director of NAMI. He continues to teach Family to Family classes through NAMI, and hosts regular hikes and mountaineering activities. He has a passion for making mental health services more accessible to those who need or want them, and is working to implement a Peer Support Specialist componenent to our current mental health initiative.

Assistant Directormikaila grad postage stamp

Mikaila Smith serves as Assistant Director. A recent MSW graduate from Portland State University, Mikaila holds primary responsibility for overseeing and coordinating our outreach outside downtown. That includes our work with the Mobile Hospitality Center and our SE Hospitality Center, as well as networking with those in other parts of the metro area, exploring possibilities for extending Nightwatch's work elsewhere. She also assists and fundraising and other support activities.

Downtown Program Coordinator & Health Care Coordinator

kristen murray postage stamp

Kristen Murray EMT serves as our Health Care Coordinator. Kristen's background is on EMS. She was a firefighter EMT as well as an instructor for EMS.  She has been teaching CPR for healthcare providers and CPR/ First Aid classes for over 25  years. Her love for Operation Nightwatch started two years ago when she began volunteering.  She says, “I love being here and seeing all the expressions of goodness and kindness.  This is home.”

Mental Health Specialistkoiin busby postage stamp

Kolin Busby serves as the  Mental Health Services Coordinator for the Downtown Hospitality Center. Kolin recieved his MSW from Portland State University in 2011, and enjoys working with diverse populations as a peer social worker. Born and raised in Portland Oregon, he loves reading, hiking, and hanging out with his mischevious feline friends in his garden.

Mission & Vision

Homelessness is perhaps the loneliest experience there is. Shunned, rejected, isolated, the homeless live most of their lives in social isolation. Whatever other things they may be struggling with besides homelessness--e.g. unemployment, physical disability, mental illness, or addiction--are only magnified because they feel so terribly alone.

Furthermore, evening is the loneliness time of day. Hungry, cold, and hurting, anyone who needs help but finds everything is closed finds the hours unimaginably long.

Operation Nightwatch recognizes all this. Through our Hospitality Centers we provide not only a safe place where those on the streets can find food, socks, clothing, blankets, and medical care, but also caring staff and volunteers who will listen to their stories and welcome them as friends.

For at least a few hours a few evenings a week, we offer a place where they may feel at home.

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Nightwatch History

Under the leadership of its first director, Gary Vaughan, ONW began as a street ministry, its volunteers Gary Vaughanapproaching the homeless in the doorways, loading docks, and campsites where they were bedded down for the evening. In time, a Hospitality Center was established, to which the homeless and other low-income people could gather with others for the evening, socializing, sharing stories, and playing games over coffee and sandiwches. The downtown Hospitality Center has since become the hub of Nightwatch's activities, from its foot care clinics to its monthly Birthday Nights and Comedy Movie Nights. It also is a place where people can be supplied with blankets, clothing, and personal hygiene items at a time of day when no other helping agency is open.

Operation Nightwatch is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, governed by a Board of Debbie CoppengerDirectors. The work of its second Executive Director, Debbie Coppenger, did much to set Nightwatch on a stable institutional and fiscal footing. Operation Nightwatch continues to be funded primarily by individual donations, along with some small foundation grants. ONW also receives critical volunteer and monetary support from a roster of churches ranging across the theological spectrum. ONW is a member of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon.


Gary Davis served as our Executive Director for nearly a decade. Over his tenure, Gary greatly expanded the vision of Nightwatch. The outreach created under his leadership has responded to the needs of homeless folks garyoutside the downtown area. In addition to a Hospitality Center  that is now well established in the SE quadrant of the city and a Mobile Hospitality Center being put into service to respond to homeless clusters elsewhere, work was done with groups in North Portland, Vancouver, and Woodburn to get their own programs working there. Furthermore, nurses were brought on board to tend to guests medical needs and a specialist to focus on mental health issues. The growth brought about during Gary's tenure continues to thrive and meet the unique needs of our guests throughout the Portland Metro Area.



Our current Executive Director is Paul Underwood. Paul has a wide range of life experiences, ranging from home builder to door-to-door work with OPB. Most Paul Underwood portraitrecently, Paul served as Director at NAMI, where he continues to teach Family to Family classes and lead hikes and mountaineering courses. Paul has a passion for mental health, and is currently working to bring Peer Support Specialists to our Hospitality Centers, with the belief that having supportive services from people who have been in our guests' shoes can bring deeper hope, community and healing. 


Operation Nightwatch is a non-sectarian night ministry of friendship and community

that has been serving Portland’s street population since 1981.

Whereas other agencies exist to provide services such as housing, food, and clothing to those experiencing homelessness, low-income individuals, and those living with mental illness, ONW’s unique vision is that these populations also may suffer from simple social isolation. Our simple mission is to reach out to them, nurturing relationship.

We welcome each person who comes to us, just as they are.
No one is required to conform to any particular belief or faith practice
in order to receive our services.