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Historic Parkrose welcomes new executive director
Seile Tekle is the new Historic Parkrose executive director replacing Mingus Mapps.
This fall, Seile Tekle took over as Historic Parkrose’s executive director, a position that was recently vacated by Mingus Mapps (“Historic Parkrose executive director moves on,” MCM Nov. 2018).
Not everybody’s job affects an entire community, but Tekle’s role is a far-reaching one. When first organized in 2014, Historic Parkrose’s kickoff priority was to promote fresh business ventures in the area through offering storefront improvement grants. Since then, as proven through Mapps’ devotion to the community, Historic Parkrose has become a one-stop shop: it takes on neighborhood safety concerns, events like Taste of Parkrose and character-driven street improvements, such as replacing neighborhood banners or decorating trash cans. In line with Mapps’ work, Tekle is interested in working both within a community and for a community.
“Leading a community-based organization dedicated to creating economic opportunity through entrepreneurship and small business support was the perfect challenge I was ready to take on,” says Tekle. “Our neighborhood has huge potential because of the diversity of its businesses and entrepreneurial spirit. Visiting the businesses in our district and learning their history and generational legacy is beautiful and empowering. The Parkrose neighborhood is diverse, and the residents are kind and welcoming. People are hospitable and look out for their neighbors.”
Tekle is attracted to Parkrose for its inherent qualities, including its ethnic and artisanal diversity. While Tekle has lived and worked in Portland for 10 years, she was an international student while studying at Lewis & Clark College. She graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s in economics. And she’s no stranger to leading community initiatives; that’s been the plan all along. If anything, she’s overqualified for her new gig.
“I have led community initiatives in various capacities, including serving as a board co-chair, managing a program and providing direct business support. I also have an extensive background in community-based economic development and program management and administration. My passion for such work is part of the reason I decided to major in development economics [at Lewis & Clark],” says Tekle.
Tekle’s priorities at Historic Parkrose include increasing Parkrose’s “creative entrepreneurs, makers, builders, artists, wellness industry operators and family-oriented businesses,” as well as enticing more “green sustainable community use space.” Moreover, Tekle is aligned with Historic Parkrose in expanding security efforts throughout the district. Last year, Historic Parkrose organized a community policing effort in four businesses. In 2019, this number is expected to triple, surpassing 11 businesses.
On Jan. 10, Parkrose residents will have a chance to see what all the hubbub is about for themselves. Historic Parkrose will be hosting a “Meet and Greet Open House,” which will formally present Tekle to the public.
“The January Meet and Greet is an opportunity for me to introduce myself and listen to the community’s priorities, concerns and recommendations,” says Tekle. If that’s not enough, there will also be refreshments.
Learn more about the Meet and Greet on Historic Parkrose’s Facebook page at facebook.com/historicparkrose.
Gabrielle Rossi to join EMSWC board
With no declared candidates for East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation (EMSWC) District 1 on the November ballot, Gabrielle Rossi of Rossi Farms, 3839 N.E. 122nd Ave., decided to pursue a write-in campaign. Local support helped her win the seat.
EMSWC works toward keeping water clean, conserving water and keeping soil healthy. Rossi will help oversee a wide variety of programs and services to urban and rural residents and businesses, including grants for conservation projects and education, a Farm Incubator Program to assist new farm businesses, a Land Legacy program to help protect agricultural and natural resource lands as well as free workshops.
Rossi earned a business degree from the University of Portland in just three years. As a fifth-generation Rossi Farms family member, she is its current general manager. She has advocated for farmers and agriculture at local, state and national levels as a Multnomah County Farm Bureau member.
Rossi claims her passion for agriculture began early. “I was only seven and sitting with dad on the tractor. He kept looking back because the carrots weren’t exiting the digger correctly. Dad turned to me and said, ‘Can you drive, honey, while I jump off and try fix the problem? Just follow the row ahead, and I’ll be with you.’ I spent the rest of the night driving the tractor with dad adjusting the digger. When we finished the night, Dad smiled big and said, ‘I couldn’t have dug those without you! Thanks, honey.’” From that moment on, she says, she was excited to learn all aspects of the family farming operation.
MHCC provides diverse learners with career pathway
On Monday, Dec. 10, 11 students from at least five different countries came together at the Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC)—Maywood Park Center with friends and families to celebrate an achievement for them, the students and for the school.
They had graduated from MHCC’s newest career pathways program, Vocational English as a Second Language (VESL) Child Development Association—Preschool (CDA) and had spent the last 12 months engaged in rigorous study of childhood care and education while completing hundreds of hours of work and volunteering at local child care centers.
“These graduates completed 360 hours of classroom instruction and 480 hours of volunteer or work experience,” said MHCC Career Pathways Coordinator Kristen Kulongoski. “They’ve gained the necessary skills to work in entry-level positions, such as an assistant teacher in early childhood care and education programs, Head Start or other early childhood settings.”
The new graduates simultaneously completed their CDA training along with vocational English language classes aimed at improving their English skills. MHCC’s VESL career pathways programs serve non-native English speakers, immigrants and refugees. Ultimately, these new graduates will take the national credentialing exam to earn their CDA credential, allowing them to advance their careers and work confidently within the child care field.
The VESL CDA program is a collaboration between MHCC’s Adult Basic Skills program, the Child Care Resource and Referral program, WorkSource Portland Metro Gresham and the Early Learning Division of the Oregon Department of Education.
The next VESL CDA cohort starts in spring of 2019. Interested in learning more? Visit mhcc.edu/careerpathwayssupport to get started.
Literacy educators recognized
Three Portland Christian Schools(PCS) English teachers received nominations for doing great work in literacy. Portland Reading Council received nominations for Laurel Tolleson, Anna Stephens and Connie Licata for its Literacy Shout Out awards.
As an English instructor for international students of many language backgrounds and various levels, Tolleson teaches students whose first language is not English. She has taught at PCS since 2005. Her nomination read in part, “She designs authentic learning experiences for her students and holds them to the highest standard.”
Outstanding teachers can even inspire their students to become teachers themselves. Stephens, PCS class of 2005, credits her PCS English teacher, Carolyn Dowd, as her inspiration to become a teacher herself. Stephens returned to PCS as a teacher in 2016. Her nomination acknowledges that she now teaches “international and mainstream students, working countless hours to provide an enriched experience for kids to examine literature. Her approach offers a variety of ways for kids to see, question and explore the content.”
Licata, English and languages department head, has been teaching at PCS nearly 15 years. Her nominator describes her as “an amazing instructor [who] keeps kids on their toes by creating authentic learning experiences using a variety of different types of literature and assessment activities. Students love her because she sets high standards and holds her kids to them.”
Grant program to support business diversity and inclusion launched
Grant applications are now open for small, tradable sector businesses interested in advancing their diversity and inclusion efforts. The Inspiring Diversity Grant pilot program launched by Prosper Portlandis intended to encourage private employers to incorporate creative, equity-related best practices around workforce, marketing and communications.
The program will provide up to $10,000 to companies located in the city of Portland, preferably within one of the city’s identified clusters (athletic and outdoor/consumer product, green cities product and services, technology and media and manufacturing).
Company projects can be focused either internally or externally. Examples include organizational training or education, marketing and outreach to underserved communities, development of a diversity hiring plan, increasing career pathways for existing employees from diverse backgrounds, new partnerships with community nonprofits, development or expansion of diversity supplier programs, development of a diversity and equity market assessment or other activities designed to make the business more competitive from a diversity and inclusion perspective.
Preference will be given to companies that can match the requested funds. Projects that demonstrate innovation and new approaches, community engagement or impact, replicability to other companies and leadership/executive commitment will also receive priority.
If needed, Prosper Portland will connect interested applicants with partners and providers who can help the company build out its program based on specific business needs.
The online application is due by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 31.
Reporter Jack Rushall contributed to this report.