We joined PWA because we believe in the power of helping young people find their paths to a satisfying careers. We stay because the positive impact is addictive.
Founding Executive director
Kevin Jeans Gail
Kevin Jeans Gail is the founding executive director of PWA. He has worked in the construction industry, was chief of staff to a Portland city commissioner and has more than 25 years’ experience in the nonprofit sector. He lives with his wife in Northeast Portland and has two grown children.
Career advice: Never forget that there’s a place for you in the world but it takes work to find it.
Interim Executive Director
Susan Nielsen has more than 20 years of experience working in education and public policy in the Northwest, previously as a journalist and editor. She joined PWA in 2014. She lives in Southeast Portland with her husband and two children.
Career advice: Envision the life you want, then find work that propels you toward that life every day.
Kristen Kohashi joined PWA in 2013. She’s a graduate of Portland State University with a background in graphic design. She lives in Northeast Portland with her polydactyl cat.
Most memorable job as a teenager: “My first job was at a nonprofit school in Hawaii, helping high school students learn skills that would get them jobs. So I learned to like the work we do from the very beginning.”
Program Development Manager
Sherri Nee joined PWA in 2017. She volunteered in Portland Public Schools for more than a decade and helped start two nonprofit projects in Portland — one that raised money for after-school enrichment for homeless students and one that helps college-bound teens find communities of faith when they leave home for college. Sherri and her husband have three teenagers, and they live in Northwest Portland.
George Rede joined PWA in 2016. He has more than 30 years of experience in journalism and teaches communications classes at Portland State University. He and his wife live in Northeast Portland with a dog and a cat. They have three grown children and recently became grandparents.
Career advice: Show through your work and your attitude that you are someone others can count on.
Kari Smith Haight
Kari Smith Haight joined PWA in 2017. She has experience a working working with youth of all ages in a variety of roles including managing robotics teams, volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, and working temporarily in Career and College Centers in Portland Public Schools. Kari and her husband live in Southwest Portland and have two children.
Expo event coordinator (contract partner)
Stephanie Kennedy is an accomplished event and association manager who has worked on the Expo since the beginning. She has more than 20 years’ experience working with nonprofits. She lives in Hillsboro with her husband and two children.
Career advice: “The future depends on what you do today.” – Mahatma Gandhi
The staff members of the Portland Workforce Alliance are responsible for organization, communication, administration, outreach and other responsibilities necessary to fulfill PWA’s mission. Their goal is to inspire students by providing them with quality work experiences and creating career-learning opportunities that help students make informed college-and-career choices after high school.