October 03, 2011
M.A.T. ’98, nonprofit consultant
You followed a nontraditional career path after getting your teaching degree; now you work with nonprofits. What’s the thread that connects these two things?
It’s listening to people where they are and helping them get to where they want to be. With Write Around Portland, a nonprofit I co-founded 10 years ago, writing workshops are about building community through mutual respect and human connection. The medium of exchange there is stories. With the Returning Veterans Project, which is an organization I ran for about a year, the mission is about connecting people—veterans and their families who are affected by the trauma of war—with help, so they can express themselves again as human beings. With all the nonprofit consulting that I’ve done, it’s pretty much the same.
What has stuck with you most from your experience at Lewis & Clark?
The most important part of my Lewis & Clark education was my student teaching experience and the freedom and support I was given. I was given the chance to experiment quite a bit, to try different ways of connecting with different people to reach different goals. Any time I had a question, there were very knowledgeable people who could answer it—but it was never a pedantic answer, it was never overly directive. It was aimed to help me figure out my own way of solving that problem. Just in that student teaching experience I got an in-depth and hands-on experience of creative inquiry. I found that very powerful.