The board of directors of the Portland Workforce Alliance welcomed four officers and elected two new board members at its final meeting of the 2020-21 school year.
On June 8, the board affirmed longtime PWA board member Samantha Jordan of Emerick Construction as president and elected Jarryd Briggs of Umpqua Bank as treasurer. The two leaders join two other officers for the 2021-22 year: Matt Hanson of Fortis Construction as vice president and Rachelle Thurik of Nike as secretary.
Other members of PWA’s executive committee include immediate past president Marcus Carter of Cinder and past presidents Anna Yates of ZBeta and Scott Kleiner of Wieden+Kennedy. The executive committee performs a steering function for PWA, overseeing strategy, governance and finances and working in close collaboration with Executive Director Susan Nielsen.
“I want to say just as a board member I feel an extreme amount of gratitude for the different ways everyone found time to show up and stay engaged,” said outgoing president Marcus, who led PWA’s pivot to a virtual format and its equity efforts. “When I reflect on this year, it’s really just a deep appreciation for everyone.”
Samantha, PWA’s new president, said she got involved years ago through founding director Kevin Jeans Gail and “his inspirational need to really find ways to bridge the gap between high school students and future careers.”
As for PWA’s continued need to adapt to changing realities at work and schools, Samantha said, “Where there’s a will there’s a way. I kind of just feel like we’re water, and we’re going to find the cracks and get into everything and make sure that we really make an impact on our students moving forward.”
PWA is a volunteer-driven nonprofit with an engaged board representing employers, postsecondary partners and K-12 schools. See our full board of directors here.
Meet PWA’s 2021-22 leadership team
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 than 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 months 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.
Immediate Past President: Marcus Carter, Cinder
Marcus is Director of Social Equity at Cinder and co-chair of PWA’s Equity and Access Committee. He has been instrumental in engaging employers and volunteers with PWA through Career Days and the Careers Expo. He also regularly volunteers to work directly with high school students through PWA career mentoring and other programs. 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 desire to be seen, to be heard and to gain 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.
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 the 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.
Treasurer: Jarryd Briggs, Umpqua Bank
Jarryd is Vice President and Assistant Treasurer of Umpqua Bank. He joined the PWA Board in 2020. In 2020-21, he developed and co-chaired the PWA Youth Impact Council. He also led Umpqua Bank’s presence at the virtual NW Youth Careers Expo. He is stepping in for PWA board member Lori Mueller, Chief Financial Officer of the Oregon Health Care Association, who has served as treasurer since 2014.
Best career advice: Your first few years out of college should be hard, and you should be challenged and pushed to your limits. Put in the extra hours and extra effort because that hard work will pay off immensely in the long run. Nothing is given—it is earned.
Most memorable job as a teenager: My first big job as a teenager was working as a gas station attendant. My job was to work the cash register, take inventory and stock the shelves. This was my first real lesson in responsibility.
Something I learned in high school about work: High school taught me how to learn and how to seek out knowledge. Upon graduation, we are all exposed to a harsh new reality of self-sufficiency and unknowns. It is invaluable to know your resources and to have the dedication to continue to grow as an individual and as a part of a team.
What draws me to serve PWA: The opportunity to expose students to a diverse range of careers and to connect employers in the area with our youth.
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 I 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.
These officers join Scott Kleiner of Wieden+Kennedy and Anna Yates of ZBeta on the executive team. Both are past presidents, regular Career Day hosts, active participants in the NW Youth Careers Expo and parents of high schoolers.