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Our Friends at Pepsi

Oregon Tradeswomen is thrilled to announce a new partnership with PepsiCo, born of our shared priorities: education, diversity, community, and sustainability. Recently, Jim Nam,  Director of Government Affairs at PepsiCo and Neel Pender of local public affairs firm Three Arch Strategies joined Oregon Tradeswomen’s Development Director, Lisa Palermo, at Dignity Village, where Oregon Tradeswomen’s Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class (TACC) was hard at work helping build tiny houses as part of their hands-on learning. This intentional and self-governed community of about 60 houseless people was founded in 2001 and is providing an invaluable learning experience to TACC students.  As our Training Director Amy James Neel, who organizes these field trips and hands-on learning days, explained to our guests, our students have the unique opportunity to build houses from the ground up, learning about carpentry, electrical wiring, and even how to install solar panels – all while giving back to a very worthy cause in our community.

Eli Bryant, one of Oregon Tradeswomen’s dedicated TACC instructors, struck up conversation with Mr. Nam, expressing how important our program is to her and expanding on her own experience as a woman entering the trades. Unlike the students she teaches, Eli did not have an organization like Oregon Tradeswomen to prepare and guide her through the difficulties that many women face in the industry. When Eli was fresh and new, the men on her crew were not willing to take the time to teach her the tips and tricks that the rest of the men already had up their sleeves, like using the hairpin method when measuring something much taller than herself. She was forced to learn everything on her own, making mistakes along the way. Eli stressed how important Oregon Tradeswomen’s pre-apprenticeship class is precisely because it elevates women to the level of the men they are working with and prepares them to succeed. More than that, the program fosters a community and serves as a resource to women that Eli wished she’d had all those years ago. For all of these reasons, Eli prioritizes her job with Oregon Tradeswomen; as a stone mason and metalworker, she turns down jobs that won’t be flexible with her teaching schedule. Her work with Oregon Tradeswomen “is more important than anything [she has] ever done.”

After seeing our students in action and conversing with impassioned Oregon Tradeswomen staff, it was clear to our guests from PepsiCo that our organization exemplifies the guiding principles of their Performance with Purpose initiative.  As a global company, PepsiCo is committed to serving local communities not only through transitioning to healthier food and beverage opportunities, making our food systems more sustainable but also investing in local programs like Oregon Tradeswomen that promote job training, gender parity and pay equity for women in the workplace.

Oregon Tradeswomen is likewise dedicated to making an impact in all these areas by starting with the women from our local community. Our training program provides them with all the skills and support they need to start a new career in the skilled trades and become economically independent. At the same time, we partner with other organizations during training to offer educational opportunities in exchange for work that has an impact on the community, such as new tiny houses for Dignity Village. Once graduated, we support our alums by connecting them with apprenticeship and job opportunities where they can apply all they have learned, continue to learn, and begin to pay it forward by repairing and building hospitals, parks, schools, bridges, and everything a community would need to flourish.

Our Summer 2018 TACC cohort graduated on August 28, 2018 and as we do with every graduating class, we celebrated these women and their hard work with a special ceremony and reception. PepsiCo’s Jim Nam presented Oregon Tradeswomen with a check for $45,000 to help us continue making a difference in the lives of these women and the communities they live in. We are privileged to have been chosen to help further PepsiCo’s Performance with Purpose goals and we look forward to the bright future we can build together!

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3934 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. #101  |  Portland, Oregon 97212  |   phone: 503.335.8200  |  fax: 503.249.0445