Preschool Program Staff

Preschool Director

Ida Lombardozzi, MSW

Co-Director of Children’s Programs: Early Childhood Education

Ida is in her fifth school year at Friendly House.  She hails from New England and grew up in a family of five children, on a boarding school campus where her parents worked, right next door to 100 high school boys! Ida has served in a variety of positions with kids and families including as a residential summer camp counselor, a 7th-grade language arts teacher, an after school program director, and as a school social worker.  Ida received her Master’s in Social Work from Portland State University in 2012.  When she’s not at work, Ida loves playing with and reading to her three-year-old, Margot.


Preschool Staff

Rik Hornick

Preschool Co-Head Teacher, Ladybug Class

Rik grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and had a “Leave it to Beaver”  childhood, having grown up in the early 60’s.  When he turned 22, he moved to Denver, Colorado, the first of several places he has lived in.  He has traveled to several cities and worked for 30 years with a variety of children – ranging from gang affected children in San Diego to preschoolers at Friendly House.  Rik has Bachelor’s degrees in both Fisheries Science and Wildlife Science.  He has a strong interest in nature and tries to provide the children with an appreciation for the outdoors.  Rik is known for his dislike of raisins and his love of apple pie.

Emily Salisbury

Preschool Co-Head Teacher, Ladybug Class

Emily grew up in Jacksonville, Oregon where she spent her younger years playing outside on her family’s 40 acres with her older brother and sister. Playing sports was a big part of Emily’s childhood – she played basketball year round up until college. Emily moved to Portland in 2008 to attend the University of Portland, where she graduated in 2012 with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. Emily has worked with children of various ages throughout high school and college and has always loved teaching, mentoring, and playing a role in strengthening the community that she is a part of. This will be Emily’s 5th year teaching preschool, and her 2nd year at Friendly House. When Emily is not teaching, she enjoys painting, DIY projects, baking, playing basketball, going to concerts, and spending time with her family.

Nanglee Thao

Preschool Assistant Teacher, Ladybug Class

Nanglee is from Portland, Oregon. She studied Child and Family Studies with a focus in Family Life Education at Portland State University. Before coming to Friendly House, she volunteered her time working at Helen Gordon Child Development Center. This was when she realized her passion for working with young students and wanted to keep pursuing work in education in helping young children thrive. During her senior year at Portland State, she started working at Creston Elementary’s SUN (School Uniting Neighbors) program as an after-school teacher.  In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, reading, going on quiet walks, and enjoying her friends and family’s company. Grateful for being a part of Friendly House, she hopes to bring her authenticity and passion of teaching to expand community building and to create lifelong community

Loretta Conopio

Preschool Assistant Teacher, Ladybug Class

Loretta was born in the Philippines, and moved to the United States with her mom when she was a preschooler to start a new adventure.  They first lived in Wyoming, and then in a few different states before making their way to the Pacific Northwest. Loretta started working with the youth while still in high school herself,  in various settings from peer counseling, tutoring,  to working with kids in homeless shelters.  When Loretta is not at Friendly House, she loves being outside as much as possible, hiking, and watching her teen-aged daughter (who is a Friendly House preschool alum!) play soccer.

Mary Traeger

Preschool Co-Head Teacher/Head Start Teacher, Firefly Class

Long-Term Substitute

We are very happy to have Teacher Mary back at Friendly House! Mary was a Preschool Head Teacher and Coordinator at Friendly House for 8 years before taking a hiatus to pursue other work opportunities.  She re-joined our community this fall in the Firefly class and is back this spring, to finish out the year as a Co-Head Teacher.

Before Friendly House, Mary received Bachelor’s degree in Family Studies and Human Development from Oregon State University as well as an Early Childhood Education Associate’s Degree from Portland Community College.  She comes to us with extensive experience in a variety of Early Childhood Settings.  Mary worked at Oregon State University as an  instructor at their Child Development Center and worked closely with student teachers, parents and their children.  Upon moving to the Portland area, Mary taught at Mt. Hood Community College and helped develop their student teaching program. She also worked as a Head Start teacher for two years at Neighborhood House.

Mary tells us that Friendly House has always held a special place in her heart she’s thrilled to be back here once again.

Karen Khamsaeng

Preschool Co-Head Teacher, Firefly Class

Karen hails from Berkeley, California. She has a bachelor of science in Human Development and Family Sciences with a minor in Public Health from Oregon State University. (Go, BEAVS!) Karen has a variety of experiences working with children and families, including interning at the Old Mill Center, where she supported family attachment and bonding in the Relief Nursery Program with children aged 6 weeks to 6 years old. She has also worked in childcare centers and preschools in several roles – as school-age teacher, as an after school program director, and as a toddler teacher.

During her free time, Karen loves to try new food, hike, and spend time with her family and friends.

Karen is excited to join the Friendly House team! She’s looking forward to supporting the growth and development of young children through play and hands-on experiences.

Jess Wiercx

Preschool Assistant Teacher, Firefly Class

Jess was raised in South Africa and Singapore before moving to Portland for university. Her busy, adventure-filled childhood instilled a curiosity for cultures and travel. Jess recently returned from a year in Tokyo, Japan, where she worked at a daycare and an art gallery and is in the process of completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Portland State University. Jess’s first experience in childcare was working as a horse riding instructor in Singapore, where she taught the children not only to ride, but to look after the horses and their environment, too. Jess has worked as an assistant teacher for the Helen Gordon Child Development Center here in Portland, and for Osaki PlayGroup in Tokyo, Japan. When Jess is not working or studying she likes to travel, go bouldering, ride horses, and make art.

Meals on Wheels People

Alex Helser

Alex is excited to be partnering with Friendly House to provide fresh, locally-sourced food to both children and seniors.  He joins us with 25 years of experience cooking professionally in Portland, from places like McCormick and Schmick’s, Gustav’s, and his very own diner, Helser’s on Alberta.  Although he has prepared all different kinds of food and loves making it all, his favorite is sushi.  When he’s not in the (Friendly House) kitchen, you’ll probably find Alex spending time with his two teen-aged children.




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