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Building on a Mission

Oregon Tradeswomen was founded on principles that women should have access to training, education, and career pathways in blue-collar industries as a means to economic self-sufficiency.   Beginning in the 1970s, women began to organize nationally to impact federal public policy, as well as at the local level to bring about much needed changes for women working in the skilled trades and other “nontraditional” jobs.  Here in Portland, a small support group was founded in 1989, led by four tradeswomen, (an elevator constructor, two carpenters and an operating engineer), later forming Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc., in 1999.   That elevator constructor was Connie Ashbrook, founding Executive Director, who built the organization from its early foundation to where it stands today – an integral nonprofit partner working to ensure access, opportunity, and equity for women across our community and the country as a whole.

After dedicating her life’s work to the organization and to the tradeswomen movement, Connie Ashbrook retired this summer, building a foundation and legacy of which she can be extremely proud.  All of us at Oregon Tradeswomen are honored and grateful that Connie has graciously committed to continue to contribute her time, talent, and expertise as Executive Director Emeritus, contributing to special projects for Oregon Tradeswomen as we move our work and vision forward.

As the new Executive Director, I am excited to be a part of Oregon Tradeswomen, and the tremendous community of which we are a member.   As Connie “passed the torch” to me just a few short weeks ago, I have reflected on the privilege that comes with being engaged in work you love, for which you have a passion, and for being able to help make the world a better place.  I recognize the big shoes I must try to fill in carrying this important work forward.  While I don’t know everything, I do know that this community has shown dedicated support of the great work of Oregon Tradeswomen and that the work of our mission cannot be done alone.

In that, we invite you to continue to build with us, as we set a bold vision for our future. In the coming year we look forward to expanding our programming across Oregon to reach more women – especially those in rural communities.  Deepening our commitment and our reach into our communities of color as we adopt and implement a racial justice plan.  Forging new relationships with industry stakeholders in manufacturing, transportation, and other nontraditional occupations and industries to increase opportunities for women.  Increasing our capacity to provide technical assistance to support our partners in achieving diversity, inclusion,  and equity. Responding to the new challenges and opportunities in our community through engaged and intentional collaboration.  Building a shared wealth creation model so all the members of our community may prosper.  Please join us as we move forward with a bold vision for change.  I look forward to doing good work together.

In solidarity,


Posted on by OTI Staff in About Oregon Tradeswomen, Community Partners, Support OTI | Leave a comment

Rebuilding Together with Washington County

On June 24, 2017, dozens of tradeswomen and friends arrived at a manufactured home park in Beaverton, OR for a day a service with Rebuilding Together Washington County and the Labor Community Service Agency.

All of the home repair projects were coordinated and led by women. Volunteers spent the day transforming a community with projects aimed at improving the health of each homeowner as well as their safety – from preventing fire risk, restoring weatherproofing, preventing homelessness, and brightening the lives of some of our most vulnerable neighbors.

This project was especially unique, because we offered free childcare to all the volunteers. The kids made birdhouses and hand painted stones for gardens, and they also were our most helpful paint brush cleaners! Like in the construction trades, having children shouldn’t be barrier to your success-so we wanted our volunteer project to reflect that value.

Despite the temperatures well over 100 degrees, the tradeswomen showed up in full force, bringing their invaluable skills to help our community members most in need! Thank you everyone!

Posted on by OTI Staff in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Build With Us! A Call to Makers!

Oregon Tradeswomen is having a party!  Build With Us is our inaugural and celebratory fundraising event set for September 8, 2017, to support our work and to celebrate the 10th annual Tradeswomen Leadership Institute which facilitates the development of leadership and advocacy skills for tradeswomen. We hope you will attend and help us share our mission with the public and raise funds to support tradeswomen and their training. Mark your calendar and come have some fun!

Do you make things out of metal, wood or something else?  We’re looking for donations of handmade items from tradeswomen and their friends. These items will be auctioned off at Build With Us to help support Oregon Tradeswomen. Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • Tables, bookcases, fire pits, benches, etc.
  • Jewelry, art, etc
  • A gift certificate we can auction off (examples:  you offer to go to a person’s home and build planter boxes, or a trellis, or a photography session, etc.)

Live edge coffee table with hairpin legs will be built and donated by
Oregon Tradeswomen staff member, Emma Brennan!

If you want to donate but have questions, please reach out to [email protected] or 503.335.8200 x 38.

We’ll need all donations to be delivered to us by 8/21. We’re excited to see what you have!

Posted on by OTI Staff in About Oregon Tradeswomen, Events | 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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