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
(503) 577-6177

Susan Nielsen has more than 25 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.


Program Manager 
Kari Smith Haight
(503) 415-0579

Kari Smith Haight joined PWA in 2017 and helps manage the ACE Mentor Program. She has experience working with youth of all ages in a variety of roles including managing robotics teams, volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, and working in Career and College Centers in Portland high schools. Kari and her husband live in Southwest Portland and have two children.



Strategic Projects 
Julia Soto
(503) 961-2545

Julia Soto joined PWA in 2018. She has experience in both non-profit, managing a STEM high school internship program at Saturday Academy, and industry, working several years as an engineer for Intel's development and manufacturing groups. Julia lives in North Portland with her husband and two children.



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’ 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 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.

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