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From Pre-Apprenticeship to Business Owner!


Oregon Tradeswomen has the privilege of meeting some truly amazing women during every Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class (TACC) we hold, and our most recent graduating class was no exception. Janet Huerta decided to embark on a new path after the tragic passing of both her parents on the same day and she enrolled in TACC.

Janet had worked in social services for decades, assisting survivors of abuse. Both her father and step-father were woodworkers, her brother started his career in framing as a teen, and her nephew is a laborer, so tools and workshops were familiar to Janet. A particularly harsh winter in central Oregon one year devastated the house that Janet had called home for 20 years and due to the high demand for skilled tradespeople, she was unable to get help to fix the damage the ice had wreaked. This dilemma sparked a question in Janet’s mind: “Why can’t I do this?”

When she quit her job to care for her parents full-time, this question stuck with her. Janet connected with Oregon Tradeswomen’s Outreach Coordinator, Anjeanette Brown, at a Women’s Foundation of Oregon event, and began her relationship with Oregon Tradeswomen as a donor. After the passing of her parents, Janet’s brother encouraged her to begin volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, which would give her an even better idea if this new path would be a good fit. Janet soon discovered that most of the other volunteers were retired tradespeople whose experience allowed them to take first dibs on certain parts of the building process. Unfortunately, Janet wasn’t getting training opportunities as fast as she would have liked.

In May of 2018, Janet attended Oregon Tradeswomen’s annual Career Fair which solidified her interest in pre-apprenticeship. After the event, she made sure to check the Oregon Tradeswomen website every day to make sure she didn’t miss the opportunity to register for the Fall TAC Class. Not only did she register for TACC, but she caught it two-handed. The 8 weeks of TACC flew by and, surprised by how well she did, Janet proved to herself that with baby steps, her goals were attainable. In her own words, Janet says, “the most valuable part of pre-apprenticeship is the chance to let go of any fear or self-doubt that holds all of us back from trying new things and finding out ‘We Can!’ It is what happens for everyone here whether it is intentional or not. Oregon Tradeswomen creates a space to overcome fear or doubt and instills an internal mechanism to problem-solve anything.”

Janet went on to complete our Environmental Worker Training Track with a HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) certification, and on her last day of training, she was approached by a family friend who needed a toilet installed. Feeling confident in her abilities, she recruited a classmate, and they set off to lend a helping hand. Having successfully executed her first gig, Janet knew she could turn this into a business! And from that thought emerged The Build-It Sisters, a business based in Sisters, Oregon that Janet hopes to expand to hire Oregon Tradeswomen graduates and other women. With more work already lined up through word-of-mouth, Janet’s goal is to go above and beyond other contractors, skillfully completing jobs and leaving spaces nicer than they were before. 

There are so many paths for our graduates to explore when they leave pre-apprenticeship and we love to hear about all the creative ways they take the skills learned during class and apply them in the work-force. Not only do we need women in apprenticeship, but we also need more female contractors and business owners. We wish Janet the best in her endeavors and cannot wait to share in the successes of her and her trades sisters!

Posted on by OTI Staff in Career Path, OTI Graduates, tradeswomen | Leave a comment

Happy New Year from Oregon Tradeswomen’s Executive Director

Sarah was just one of the many working women in Oregon who, despite working full-time, was still living below the poverty line. In fact, one third of working women in Oregon head households that live in poverty. Women’s economic security in Oregon is further threatened due to the low rate of high school graduation, ranking us 48th in the nation, lack of affordable housing (47th), and the persistent wage gap –factors which all contribute to an economically fragile demographic.

In 2018, Oregon Tradeswomen made changes to our training program in order to better serve women like Sarah, who simply needed a hand up – not a hand out – in learning new skills that lead to high-wage employment in the skilled trades. Through our Pathways to Success program, our retention services, public policy work, and career education sessions, we were able to serve more women experiencing poverty than ever before, including women with significant barriers to employment. We’ve increased our capacity, we’ve removed impediments to accessing our program, and we’ve increased services so we can help more women change their lives.

In reflecting upon this past year, I am pleased to share that Oregon Tradeswomen has made good progress creating economic opportunity for more women, shifting workplace culture, and addressing systemic and policy barriers which hindered access, opportunity, and equity for women like Sarah. We embarked on a new path, yet one which honors our founding sisters’ vision and mission to promote success for women and girls in the trades. Through a year-long process, which included input from funders, community partners, industry, tradeswomen, program graduates and policy-makers, we have developed a Blueprint for Prosperity, our three-year strategic plan. While it will guide us forward, this document will live and be responsive to both opportunities and challenges which may come our way as we continue to grow and broaden our reach.

Through this plan, we will work ever harder, and more strategically, to serve more women like Sarah who now makes a family-supporting wage and has transitioned from reliance on public benefits to economic independence. Oregon Tradeswomen will continue to be a part of the regional, statewide, and national conversation about the importance of investing in racial and gender equity for our workforce, and the critical need to have good public policy to support such efforts. We will work to be the change we seek.

We invite you to join us in 2019 – come celebrate 30 years of success with us this year! And as we ring in the New Year, and a new path for Oregon Tradeswomen, join us in helping to transform lives.

My sincere gratitude to all of our partners and supporters for all that you do, in 2018 and always, in service of our mission. We look forward to seeing you in 2019 and wish you a Happy, Healthy, and Joyful New Year!

With gratitude,

Kelly Kupcak
Executive Director

Posted on by OTI Staff in About Oregon Tradeswomen | Leave a comment

Easy Ways to Support Oregon Tradeswomen!

As a non-profit organization, Oregon Tradeswomen’s work is made possible through the generosity of our supporters. For these gifts we are immensely grateful, but not everyone has the financial flexibility to make a monetary contribution. Luckily, there are other ways to support our work that are quick and easy!

Each of these avenues are incredibly helpful to our organization. If every one of our supporters participated in at least one of these programs, the impact would be undeniable. 


Dovetail Affiliate Program

Oregon Tradeswomen is both honored and thrilled to announce that we are the first affiliate partner for Dovetail Workwear, which means ALL of Oregon Tradeswomen’s community – from students, graduates, field instructors, donors, volunteers, staff, and members can receive a 10% discount on purchases simply by using this link to shop: dovtl.me/oretrd!

In addition to your 10% off, Dovetail Workwear also makes a commensurate 10% donation to Oregon Tradeswomen!

Fred Meyer Rewards

What if we told you that your Fred Meyer shopping trips could benefit Oregon Tradeswomen? Every time you shop, Fred Meyer’s Community Rewards program will put aside up to $650,000 each quarter to benefit an organization of your choice! Here is how you can participate:

  1. Go to fredmeyer.com
  2. Click on the silhouetted person icon at the top right side of the page to Sign In.
  3. If you haven’t set up a Fred Meyer rewards account, click “Create an Account”
  4. After signing in to your account, scroll down to the very bottom of the page and locate the Community section
  5. Under “Community” you will see and select “Fred Meyer Community Rewards”
  6. On the page that pops up, there will be a section that says “Are You a Fred Meyer Customer?” and under that there will be a link that reads “Re-enroll or link your Rewards Card now” which you will click
  7. The page that pops up will list suggested organizations to support, but at the very top of the page you will want to type in “Oregon Tradeswomen” on the search field and search
  8. Oregon Tradeswomen should be the first listing to pop up, so locate it and press the “Enroll” button
  9. The website will give you a confirmation page with the information of your enrollment in the program
  10. Now, whenever you shop at Fred Meyer, swipe or enter in your rewards info and Fred Meyer will donate a percentage of your total to Oregon Tradeswomen!

Amazon Smile

If you are an Amazon user, each purchase you make can help Oregon Tradeswomen through the Amazon Smile program! Amazon Smile is a way for you to direct 0.5% of your Amazon purchases to a non-profit of your choice. To start generating money for Oregon Tradeswomen, follow these simple instructions:

  1. Go to Amazon Smile’s home page at http://smile.amazon.com
  2. Log in using your Amazon account
  3. A page will pop up asking you to select a charitable organization
  4. There will be some spotlight charities, but below that, there is a search bar to pick your own charitable organization where you can search “Oregon Tradeswomen”
  5. Oregon Tradeswomen’s profile will show up and you will click the yellow “Select” button to support that organization
  6. A page will show up with a confirmation of wanting to support the charity, so you will want to check the box and press “Start Shopping”
  7. Now, every time you shop on Amazon, a percentage of your total will be donated to Oregon Tradeswomen!

Donate Your Car

By donating your vehicle you will save yourself the hassle and expense of selling your vehicle while supporting a cause you are passionate about: helping girls and women explore their opportunities to pursue living wage jobs in the trades. When you donate your car, boat, motor home, or motorcycle, Oregon Tradeswomen will greatly benefit from your donation.

This kind of donation is a substantial gift and will help offset costs in our programs that empower women to learn about working in the trades.


At Oregon Tradeswomen we are always looking for volunteers to take some time out of their day to help us out. There are many ways to volunteer with our organization, the biggest of opportunities being our Annual Career Fair. If you are interested in being contacted about volunteer opportunities, please email our Communications Coordinator at [email protected]

We thank you for your support this holiday season as you join us in ensuring that the thousands of low-income women and girls will receive the inspiring education, training and mentoring needed to become the next generation of tradeswomen.

Posted on by OTI Staff in Support OTI | Leave a comment

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

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