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Leadership & Staff

With a committed team, we celebrate the opportunity to make a difference in students’ lives.

 Our organization is built upon a dedicated core team of staff, a network of incredibly talented coaches, and the guidance of our wonderful board of directors. Together, we form a dynamic and passionate community committed to our mission and the positive impact we aim to make.

Board of Directors

Erin Adams

President

Gwen Thompson

Vice President

Barbara Fisher

Secretary

Smita Wacker

Treasurer

Charles Engelberg

Fletcher Ray

Ryan Richardson

Martin Ashley

Staff

Eric Polgar

Executive Director

Eric Joined Chess for Success (CFS) in October 2022 as the new Executive Director, after serving as the Director of Operations and Finance with a similar organization.  

Eric brings 20 plus years of leadership experience and proven results helping people and organizations improve.  He believes chess helps develop and improve skills that are critical to success in life, and is passionate about the CFS mission. In his spare time Eric enjoys camping, being in nature, bringing his dog to the river, traveling and spending time with his family 

Eric Polgar 

Executive Director
epolgar@chessforsuccess.org

Patty O’Hollearn

Director of Programs

Patty has over a decade of experience working with youth and youth development programs. From teaching swim lessons to overnight camps, the Boys and Girls Club to outdoor schools, Patty's enthusiasm for youth development is always in full swing. She can often be found working from home with her dogs. Outside of work she loves camping, photography, and spending time with her family.

Patty O’Hollearn 

Director of Programs
patty@chessforsuccess.org

Richard Crocket

Tournaments Director

Richard Crockett has been involved with Chess for Success in many positions – coach, program manager, Program Operations Director, and now serving just as the Tournaments Coordinator, looking to pass the torch on to some new folks. He enjoys providing a quality tournament experience over the board and also on the lichess.org online platform.

When not chessing, he is the Treasurer for his local neighborhood association and the barbershop harmony chorus where he has sung baritone for over 25 years. Reading, doing genealogy, playing online chess, and solving the daily crossword puzzle are also activities that he enjoys.

Richard Crocket  

Tournaments Director
richard@chessforsuccess.org

Anne Clingon

Communications and Grants Coordinator

Anne has a diverse working background and a passion for making an impact on young lives. She has an English degree from the University of Oregon and experience in various fields including working for City Year in Jacksonville FL to aid underserved students in a 5th grade classroom. It was this experience that made her realize how deep of an impact working with youth can have. This inspired her to find work in the field of education, leading her to Chess for Success. In her free time Anne enjoys going on walks with her 2 dogs, reading, going to Portland Thorns games and spending time outdoors.

Anne Clingon 

Communications and Grants Coordinator
anne@chessforsuccess.org

Michael Malone

Regional Coordinator

Michael is currently a Regional Coordinator for Chess for Success responsible for almost all the Portland Public Schools after school chess programs. He started as a chess coach in 1992. Then after 31 years, he retired from PPS as a Special Education teacher and Chess coach. He then started working as a Program Manager for CFS in 2013, making him the staff member with the longest history in the organization.

Currently, he enjoys helping out in all the areas of need from curriculum development, program development and from time to time as a Tournament Director.  But, beyond all the different demands, what he enjoys most is interacting with young people and seeing how this incredible game helps them grow in wonderful and unexpected ways.

Michael Malone 

Regional Coordinator
michael@chessforsuccess.org

James Cox

Regional Coordinator

After high school, Jim served in the USMC and a tour in Viet Nam. He then became a commercial fisherman for nearly 20 years off of the Oregon/Washington coasts. He then left the ocean to spend more time with his wife and three sons, working in residential construction. Jim introduced chess to his boys at an early age, and it became so popular with their classmates that they started a chess club.  That was over 30 years ago, and the chess club has grown to include all of the district schools. Jim was privileged to spend 14 years as an educator in the local schools, teaching construction and wood shop.  Chess always had a presence during lunch and after school.  

Being a program manager with Chess For Success has given me the opportunity to introduce and expand chess to many more of our coastal schools from K-12.  I am now retired, and in my spare time I enjoy tending to my bee hives, and  fishing and crabbing in our local bays.

James Cox 

Regional Coordinator
jim@chessforsuccess.org

Chris Hill

Regional Coordinator

Chris brings years of experience in the nonprofit world, first working at the First Coast YMCA in Jacksonville, Florida before moving to Oregon and finding a home with Chess for Success first as a Location Leader for summer programming and now as a Regional Coordinator. Chris has a Bachelor's in History from the University of Central Florida and is currently pursuing a Master's in Political Science at Portland State University. In his spare time Chris enjoys playing FIFA, reading history books, and traveling throughout the Pacific Northwest. 

Chris Hill 

Regional Coordinator
chris@chessforsuccess.org

Daniel Valdes

Regional Coordinator

Born in Montreal, Daniel lived the first part of his life in Canada, afterwards moving to Mexico where he attended primary school at Bartolome M Salido. After, Daniel and his family moved to Oregon where he attended Corvallis High school and got to spend time alongside his father, who worked at the school he attended. Daniel graduated in 2019 and for the past several years alongside working with Chess for Success, he has focused on his various passions and interests, from working with nature conservation in Mexico, to political work in Oregon.

Daniel Valdes 

Regional Coordinator
daniel@chessforsuccess.org

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