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.
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.
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.
Kari Smith Haight
Kari Smith Haight joined PWA in 2017. She has experience a 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.
Communications & Program Coordinator
Ave Rio joined PWA in 2019. She comes from a journalism background, writing about education, learning and career development opportunities at a magazine in Chicago. Before that, she served as editor-in-chief of The Vidette at Illinois State University. Ave recently moved from Illinois to Southwest Portland with her partner.
Expo Event Coordinator
Stephanie Kennedy is an accomplished event and association manager who has coordinated the PWA Expo from the beginning. She has more than 20 years' experience working with nonprofits. She lives in Hillsboro with her family.
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.
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.