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2017 Construction Equity Day


On February 23rd, staff and students from Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc., Portland Youth Builders, and Constructing Hope bused down to the State Capitol in Salem, OR for Construction Equity Day! This group of 80 people spent their day educating State Legislators about the importance of pre-apprenticeship programs and advocating for their continued funding. Measure 98, which promotes Career and Technical Education (CTE) and SB 292/HB 2167, which focuses on reducing bullying and harassment in the workplace, were also a major focus of advocacy efforts. Students had more than 20 scheduled meetings with legislators and navigated them with confidence; sharing their personal stories about how the trades industry has changed their lives. Some highlights for students included listening to a speech from Tim Frew, the Executive Secretary of the Oregon Building and Construction Trades Council, and meeting with Tina Kotek, Speaker of the House as well as Democratic Representative, Tawna Sanchez.

We at OTI are so proud of our Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class (TACC) students. They, along with the other students in attendance, led with power and demonstrated how to use their “construction voices” to advocate for the necessity of creating a more diverse workforce. The success of the day is truly owed to them! Special thanks to Alice Bartlett from the League of Women Voters for speaking with students about the importance of lobbying and legislation and to the Multnomah County Bar Foundation for providing the funding to make this event possible.

We would also like to thank our four legislative meeting leaders who just graduated from the most recent Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class. These students spent time preparing for this day and led their peers in developing their stories and meeting with Legislators – Nora Aguilar, Freedom Moreno, Nora Sackett, and Sumer Smith.

Posted on by OTI Staff in Community Partners, Public Policy | Leave a comment

OTI Alumnae Spotlight: Meet Jess Kurtz!

thumbnail_2016_jesskurtzJess Kurtz grew up in Oakland, California in a low-income neighborhood with an underfunded school system and fewer opportunities. But, Oakland was also a socially conscious community with a deeply embedded awareness for radical activism that made a lasting impact on Jess’s life and sparked a lifelong interest in human rights. Her grit and determination helped her find her way to pursue work that would eventually lead her to land a very lucrative job in corporate marketing with a great salary, but little work-life balance. While in this position, Jess was in a terrible accident and was sent to Portland, OR for reconstructive surgery at OHSU. Following this life changing experience, Jess decided to stay in Portland and leave her 80-90 hour a week career in the corporate world behind in hopes of finding a job that mirrored her passion for women/worker’s rights, and bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

Once settled in Portland, Jess purchased some goats and started a nonprofit now known as the Belmont Goats, which is near and dear to the hearts of many in the Portland community. Jess also held a job as a union negotiator at Communication Workers of America Local 7901 where she met Madelyn Elder, the current CFO at Oregon Tradeswomen Inc. She kept in touch with Madelyn over the years and when she learned about OTI she kept the organization in the back of her mind.

Later, Jess worked at a glass and metal manufacturing facility where she was introduced to welding by a coworker. She fell in love with the trade and enjoyed learning a tangible skill. During this time, Jess was in involved in an abusive relationship with her partner who was also a coworker. When she was assaulted on the job, Jess’s sense of safety in her workplace was compromised. Like many employers, Jess’ did not have the skills or knowledge about how to deal with intimate partner violence in the workplace. Although Jess liked her job and felt a sense of loyalty to her employers, she ultimately chose to leave.

Upon leaving that job and taking some time to heal, Jess was motivated to continue working towards her goal of being a welder and called Madeyn to learn about how OTI could help her. Jess enrolled in OTI’s first Women in Metals and Manufacturing cohort and finished the course with high praise from her instructors and a deeper appreciation for the importance of women in the trade industry. She finished the program in 2015 while also working on finishing up her Associates in Applied Science in Welding Technology at Portland Community College. After taking some time off to travel in Europe, Jess is back in Portland and just accepted a job at Big Marine with hopes of entering the Boiler Maker apprenticeship as soon as possible.


Jess’s future goals include becoming a journeyman welder and a Certified Welding Inspector with the hopes that she can be an independent contractor and work abroad. She would also someday like to have her own welding company so that she can provide a safer workplace for women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community. Jess is a champion for the work that OTI does and hopes to be able to give back by being a mentor for other women who want to enter the trades.

When asked what her advice would be for women who are considering a career in the trades she said “entering the trade of your choice by way of an apprenticeship is the most valuable thing you can do in regards to making more money and being a professional in your trade”. She also spoke about the skill of learning how and when to stand up for yourself as a woman in the industry while also learning when to bite your lip and follow orders in order to gain more respect from your peers.

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

Get Strong and Support OTI With Fulcrum Fitness!

Sign up for the Fit Life Challenge and Fulcrum Fitness will donate half the proceeds back to Oregon Tradeswomen!

Open to everyone 18 and over, the 2017 Fulcrum Fit Life Challenge is a fun and motivating way to burn fat, build muscle, and have a great time getting in shape. Join the Challenge and get six weeks of strength-building, fat-melting boot camp and small-group personal training sessions as well as the chance to win a $1,000 membership credit you can spend on any type of workouts you want!

In addition to the grand prize, we’ll also be giving away a two-month Small Group Personal Training membership runner-up prize, as well as motivating weekly prizes from our community partners, including MYZONE belts, chiropractic treatments, naturopathic services, Fulcrum gear, and more!

The Fulcrum Fit Life Challenge runs from April 3rd – May 15th and costs just $97 for new members. Registration ends April 14th, so sign up today and be sure to list Oregon Tradeswomen as your referral source:

Sign me up now!

Posted on by OTI Staff in Uncategorized | 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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