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.


Executive Director
Susan Nielsen (she/her)
(503) 577-6177

Susan Nielsen has more than 25 years of experience working in education, community-building and public policy in the Northwest, previously as a journalist and editor. A primary focus of her career has involved identifying and reducing barriers to opportunity in public education. She joined PWA in 2014 and has helped the organization sharpen its equity focus and expand meaningful career experiences for students. Her first full-time job was as an Alaska deckhand, which taught her the value of persistence, optimism and good raingear.

Career advice: Envision the life you want, then find work that propels you toward that life every day.


Partnerships Director
Carlos Sánchez Huizar (el/he/him/his)

Carlos Sánchez Huizar is a proud son of immigrant parents, a first-generation college student and professional. Él grew up in Mexico and South Central Los Angeles, inspired by his ancestors, family, and mentors, and he developed a passion for helping students achieve their career goals and personal dreams. Carlos is committed to re-designing inequitable systems and practices and he has done so by working and volunteering in urban public and private schools, CBOs, non-profits, community centers, and entrepreneurial communities.

Career advice:
No hay que llegar primero, pero hay que saber llegar—You don't have to get there first, but you have to know how to get there.


                                                    Program Manager 
Ren Lum (they/them)

While obtaining their BA in Sociology and Minor in Education at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Ren held various educational support based roles through the campus Disability Resource Center and Division of Global Engagement. Focused on community-based practices, Ren has also worked as a special education teacher and a nonprofit consultant.



                                                    Communications & Program Manager
Cassidy Kusumoto (she/her)

Cassidy is a Filipino-Japanese American born and raised in O’ahu, Hawai’i. She came to study at the University of Oregon where she majored in Public Relations and built a passion for cultural work through her engagement in community organizations. Her dedication towards youth advocacy, social and economic justice, and mobilizing communities are central to her work at PWA.



Communications & Program Coordinator 
Sam McGee (she/they)

Sam’s educational journey began with an BA in archaeology and minor in art from the University of Oregon. After graduation, they served as an AmeriCorps member in Portland working as an college application advisor. Combining their interests in storytelling, creating community, and educational resources, Sam pursued a MA in Museum Studies at the University of Washington. Looking towards the future, Sam hopes to bring her skills in navigating institutional systems and love for creating fun educational experiences to engage others in exploring their own individual forms of success and joy.

Career Advice: Think about the things you value, and the activities or skills that you enjoy doing; work towards opportunities that allow you to engage with both.

The team 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.



Founder Emeritus
Kevin Jeans Gail

Kevin Jeans Gail is the retired founding executive director of PWA. He had more than 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector as a leader and community organizer, worked in the construction industry, and was chief of staff to a Portland city commissioner. He lives 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.

Support PWA & Career Education

Together, we can engage all students to graduate and make more informed, coherent career choices after high school or college.