The board of directors of the Portland Workforce Alliance affirmed five officers and elected eight new board members at its final meeting of the 2019-20 school year.

On June 9, the board elected Samantha Jordan of Emerick Construction as incoming president and Rachelle Thurik of Nike as secretary. They join three other officers for the 2020-21 year: Marcus Carter of Cinder Staffing as board president (elected last June), Lori Mueller of Oregon Health Care Association as treasurer, and Matt Hanson of Fortis Construction as vice president.

Other members of PWA’s executive committee include Anna Yates of Swift who served as board president in 2019-2020 and Scott Kleiner of Wieden+Kennedy, who joined the board in 2013 and has served as board president. Both continue to play critical leadership roles in PWA's growth and direction. The executive committee performs a steering function for PWA, overseeing strategy, governance and finances and working in close collaboration with Executive Director Susan Nielsen.

New board members include Keli Van Holde of Zapproved, Dr. Robin Beavers of Trillium Family Services, KD Parman of Roosevelt High School, Anne Percival of Legacy Health, Chris Morehead of Tonkon Torp, Jarryd Briggs of Umpqua Bank, Susan Shugerman of Oregon Health & Science University and Nicole Dodier of ZGF Architects. Hear from the newest 2020-21 board members about their first jobs, early life lessons and career advice here.

The 2020-21 board president Marcus Carter said at the June 9 board meeting that through the uncertainty of the coming year, PWA must do as it has always done: meet the needs of students. “Not only do [students] have an incredible amount of strength and resiliency day-to-day, but they have an incredible ability to adapt," Carter said. "We have to hold that same character forward -- showing that ability to adapt. The thoughtful, innovative, programming we put forth – that’s just been accelerated. We were always on that path to diversify what we brought to the table."

Carter also spoke about his desire to help PWA stay intentional around diversity and inclusion. "I think we have a significant opportunity to achieve what we think we’re capable of doing," Carter said. "If this current moment shows us anything, it’s that yes, we can always step up. How can we be intentional about different demographics across our student base? I’m excited to dig deeper into that this next year.”

Read more about PWA's 2020-21 leadership team below.

President: Marcus Carter, Cinder Staffing

Marcus is Director of Social Equity at Cinder Staffing. He is also a steering committee member of TechTown PDX, an initiative dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion in the tech community. He has been key in engaging tech employers with PWA through Career Days and the Careers Expo. He also has volunteered at high school campuses including Grant and Parkrose. He joined PWA as a volunteer in 2017 and a board member in 2018.

Best career advice: “If I always did what I was qualified to do, I’d be pushing a broom somewhere.” – This quote is my personal reminder to act with courage in times of doubt.

What draws me to serve PWA: I am the product of five brothers, two sisters, and four step-brothers. Growing up in a low-income family had its challenges. One of the many challenges is the opportunity to be seen, to be heard, and access to resources that release the weight one may feel associated with being a low-income family. Organizations like PWA influenced my vision of what I could achieve beyond my circle of friends, family, neighborhood, and dreams. My purpose with PWA is to make sure I do my part to break every barrier possible to ensure kids can pursue their path to success.

Incoming President: Samantha Jordan, Emerick Construction

Samantha is Director of Business Development and Marketing for Emerick Construction. She joined the PWA Board in 2017 and has served an instrumental role as Expo Committee Co-Chair and organizer of the Construction Zone. Her past nonprofit leadership experience includes past president of the nonprofit PDX Toolbank and past president of Society for Marketing Professional Services.

Best career advice: There will always be someone better you, don’t hate them, strive to learn from them, better yourself and inspire someone else to do the same!

Most memorable job as a teenager: I worked at ART Park during the summer month throughout high school. We hosted summer camps for hundreds of school kids at a time, worked with national artists in residence and guided historical tours for visitors. I really learned how to be a team player, communicate clearly and understand the value of being organized.

Something I learned in high school about work: Don’t be afraid to ask for help, no one is perfect, show up, participate and you’ll succeed.

What draws me to serve PWA: To provide opportunities for HS students to learn about viable career choices that they may never have realized were an option, like working in the A/E/C industry.

Vice President: Matt Hanson, Fortis Construction

As Preconstruction Manager at Fortis Construction, Matt has worked with major healthcare and higher education institutions in Oregon, delivering projects that better the community. He joined the PWA board in 2017 and has been a strong supporter of the NW Youth Careers Expo, specifically the Construction and Health Zones. Matt has been involved with in-class teaching for STEM programs at local elementary schools. He is current vice president

Best career advice: Challenge yourself to be better than the day before and you will succeed in whatever you do.

What draws me to serve PWA: I joined PWA because I believe that employers have a responsibility to invest in our future workforce. PWA provides amazing opportunities for our youth to learn about career options that they may not have known about otherwise.


Secretary: Rachelle Thurik, Nike

Rachelle Thurik is a Brand Marketing Manager at Nike, where she has worked since 2010. She joined the PWA board in 2018. She has organized multiple Career Days through Nike and Nike Valiant Labs and has led Nike’s booth presence at the NW Youth Careers Expo, recruiting dozens of her colleagues as volunteers.

Best career advice: Maybe cliché, but there really is no finish line, and it’s hard work!

What draws me to serve PWA: The people and the mission. I grew up in a lower-income household/high school, and know how important it is to have people who want to see you be your best, have someone to aspire to and push you through life. If I didn’t have that I would not be where I am today. My hope is to be that person for the kids who do not have a lot of opportunity and/or privilege the way others do plus be the example that inspires them to achieve their best. I want to teach them that life is not perfect but you can be who you want to be.

Treasurer: Lori Mueller, Oregon Health Care Association

Lori is the Chief Financial Officer of the Oregon Health Care Association, and she is the current PWA board treasurer. Her previous employers were Arnerich Massena and the OHSU Foundation/Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation. Lori has volunteered for mock interviews and connected new people to PWA through the breakfast. Lori’s daughter Meghan participated in the ACE Mentor Program for two years.

PWA welcomes new leaders for 2020-21