Lena Battan has served on the Portland Workforce Alliance board of directors since June 2019 and holds a leadership position on the board as the Equity & Access Committee co-chair.
"This work," she says, "is very near and dear to my heart."
Lena grew up in the Portland Public Schools system and graduated from Benson Polytechnic High School. She brings her knowledge and expertise from her career in the tech industry to help PWA fulfill its mission.
After working as Head of People at Cozy, she recently started a new role as Director of People Operations at Community.com, a new social messaging platform that aims to pair “the simplicity of a text message with the scale of a social network.” She has also served as a Strategic Advisor on the Steering Committee for TechTown PDX since 2018.
She got involved with PWA because of her devotion for helping underrepresented youth and because of the career mentoring she received as a young person. "I had a lot of career mentors growing up who were important to me," she explains, so she wants to provide some of that same support and encouragement to others.
What do you bring to PWA?
“I bring a lot of perspective being a student that came from the public school system and hopefully I bring the perspective of a woman of color in that system, and somebody who’s been lucky enough to have opportunities and mentors and just being responsible for recreating some of those opportunities for these students.
“I think I also bring the forward-thinking ability and the innovation that comes from being in the tech industry… always assessing problems from different angles and thinking of non-traditional ways to approach problems. This work matters to me on both personal and professional levels, so I'm really glad to be part of this group.”
How do you want to strengthen the organization?
“I want to continue working with this really smart group of people that are invested heavily in seeing this work shine.
After being at the Expo last year live -- that was my first experience -- after working with the students and talking with them directly… there was a really touching moment where I was working in the [Tech Zone] at the Expo and a young woman had come up to me -- probably only 15 or 16 -- and I was talking to her about careers in engineering and how you didn't necessarily need to go to a four-year college to become an engineer and she literally said, ‘I had no idea that girls could even become engineers.’
“That was just a mind-blowing thing to hear… in 2019, in this day and age. … It really drove home why I'm doing this. I hope to help push forward whatever it is we need to do to create more of those sorts of ‘aha’ moments for students.”