Wire a Light 2020 Dates Announcement

Would you like to learn about the possibilities a career as an electrician offers? The NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center is hosting SIX “Wire a Light” workshops for women who have an interest in the electrical trades. During this free workshop, you can learn how to wire a light, meet women electricians in the industry, and find out how to start your career as an electrician.

Dates & Registration:

February 6, 2020
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Register for the 2/6 workshop

April 2, 2020
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Register for the 4/2 workshop

June 4, 2020
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Register for the 6/4 workshop

August 10, 2020
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Register for the 8/10 workshop

October 1, 2020
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Register for the 10/1 workshop

December 3, 2020
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Register for the 12/3 workshop

NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center
16021 NE Airport Way

Bus Lines:
NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center is accessible via TriMet bus lines 74 and 87.

Do Good With the Give!Guide

Oregon Tradeswomen works nonstop to educate and empower women in achieving financial independence by pursuing careers in the skilled trades, while at the same time diversifying the industry. For the good work we do in the community and in the lives of hundreds of women and families, we were one of the local nonprofit organizations selected to participate in the Willamette Week Give!Guide again in 2019! The Give!Guide is a citywide fundraising campaign supporting 152 non-profit organizations, which also aims to inspire the habit of end of year giving among those under age 36.

The Give!Guide makes giving fun! Each week there will be a designated Big Give Day where your donation of $10 or more on that day enters you in a drawing to win something big! On some of the Big Give Days, donors under the age of 36 have twice the chance of winning!

The Big Give Days:

November 1    

Give: $10 or more
You Get: A $500 shopping spree to Powell’s Books 
If You’re 35 or Under: You have twice the chance of winning, as a second gift card will be given to one donor under the age of 36!

November 7    

Give: $10 or more
You Get: New snow gear from Patagonia [$600 value], a two-night stay at Five Pine Lodge and four single-day lift tickets to Mt. Bachelor!

November 14

Give: $10 or more
You Get: A Sony RX100 VA mirrorless camera from Pro Photo Supply
If You’re 35 or Under: You have twice the chance of winning, as a second Sony RX100 VA camera will be given to one donor under the age of 36!

November 21   

Give: $10 or more
You Get: Two tickets with parking to the Portland Trail Blazers vs. Minnesota (12/21/2019) game, two tickets with parking to the Trail Blazers vs. Milwaukie (01/11/2020), and a basketball signed by the entire team!

December 3   

Give: $10 or more
You Get: Two nights at Brasada Ranch in a Luxury suite and a round of golf
If You’re 35 or Under: You have twice the chance of winning, as a second Brasada vacation package will be given to one donor under the age of 36!

December 5       

Give: $10 or more
You Get: Two weekend passes to Feast Portland 2020, a $500 gift card from New Seasons Market, a $150 gift card to Tasty n Daughters and one year’s supply of goodies from:

December 12

Give: $10 or more
You Get: A Tender Loving Empire vinyl package and weekend passes to Treefort Music Fest, Sisters Folk Festival, McMenamins Sabertooth Fest, Oregon Jamboree, Harefest and two tickets to the select show of your choice at the Portland Jazz Festival.

(The vinyl package includes four new TLE releases on vinyl with digital downloads, a $100 shopping spree, a comfy crewneck, a campfire mug for your adventures, and a set of three art prints.) 

December 19       

Give: $10 or more
You Get: A Specialized FX 1 Commuter Bike from Bike Gallery.

December 26 

Give: $10 or more
You Get: A vacation package from the Oregon Cultural Trust that will take you across the  amazing state we are lucky enough to call home! Visit giveguide.org for more details. 

Throughout the Give!Guide there will be free events where you can show up and do good in person! Meet the non-profits in the Give!Guide, eat and drink fabulous local refreshments, and dance to banging beats produced by members of our lovely Portland arts community!

Please add these events to your calendar:

Give!Guide Kickoff Party
November 1, 2019, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Jupiter NEXT
900 East Burnside Street
Portland, OR 97214

Give!Guide Presents: Bocha feat. KayelaJ (DHH Accessible)
November 22, 2019, 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Holocene Portland
1001 SE Morrison Street

Portland, OR 97214

Give!Guide Presents: Drae Slapz feat. Brown Calculus and Rasheed Jamal
December 12, 2019, 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Mississippi Studios
3939 N Mississippi Blvd
Portland, OR 97227

If you are unable to make a gift, we encourage you to stay involved by attending the Give!Guide’s free events and sharing our campaign with your social networks! Any help is appreciated!

We cannot wait to DO GOOD with you!

Join us on Give!Guide!

Oregon Tradeswomen Graduate Receives Green Construction Scholarship!

Oregon Tradeswomen pre-apprenticeship student Chelsey Acker (foreground) helps frame a new tiny house at Dignity Village in Northeast Portland. This project is part of the curriculum for the current cohort of OTI pre-apprentices. (Josh Kulla/DJC)

During each cohort of our Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class, students have the option of extending their training to learn more about environmental careers. During a recent class, Energy Trust of Oregon and Earth Advantage let us know about a few scholarships available for their Sustainable Homes Professional (SHP) course as a way to get started into a career in green construction. Chelsea Acker applied and won one of the full-tuition scholarships worth $1,600! Congratulations, Chelsea, and thank you so much Energy Trust of Oregon and Earth Advantage!

Update 2/27/2019:

We are pleased to announce that Chelsea has successfully completed her Sustainable Homes Professional course and is now working full time at Green Hammer! She reached out to Earth Advantage after she got hired to send them a lovely thank you message:

“I am writing to extend many thanks and extreme gratitude to Earth Advantage. I am one of the SHP Scholarship awardees from the current SHP class. I graduated from Oregon Tradeswomen this past summer and knew I wanted to start my career in carpentry working for a company that focused on high performance energy efficient and sustainable builds. The SHP class was recommended to me as a way to learn more about building science and meet others who are active in this field. Within a few months into the course, I found myself passionate about building science, and applying for jobs. I was hired full-time at Green Hammer just a few weeks ago and it is my dream job! I can’t believe I am getting to begin my career with such an amazing company that aligns so clearly with my ethics, values, and passion. I honestly DO NOT believe that I would have gotten the job if it weren’t for this SHP course, and there is no way as a woman entering the field with little to no experience that I would have been able to afford this course on my own. I am extremely grateful and humbled by this opportunity and wanted to extend many many thanks for believing in me and giving me this chance. This course made is possible for me to enter into the trades with a focus on high performance energy efficient homes/buildings.”

Our Friends at Pepsi

Oregon Tradeswomen is thrilled to announce a new partnership with PepsiCo, born of our shared priorities: education, diversity, community, and sustainability. Recently, Jim Nam,  Director of Government Affairs at PepsiCo and Neel Pender of local public affairs firm Three Arch Strategies joined Oregon Tradeswomen’s Development Director, Lisa Palermo, at Dignity Village, where Oregon Tradeswomen’s Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class (TACC) was hard at work helping build tiny houses as part of their hands-on learning. This intentional and self-governed community of about 60 houseless people was founded in 2001 and is providing an invaluable learning experience to TACC students.  As our Training Director Amy James Neel, who organizes these field trips and hands-on learning days, explained to our guests, our students have the unique opportunity to build houses from the ground up, learning about carpentry, electrical wiring, and even how to install solar panels – all while giving back to a very worthy cause in our community.

Eli Bryant, one of Oregon Tradeswomen’s dedicated TACC instructors, struck up conversation with Mr. Nam, expressing how important our program is to her and expanding on her own experience as a woman entering the trades. Unlike the students she teaches, Eli did not have an organization like Oregon Tradeswomen to prepare and guide her through the difficulties that many women face in the industry. When Eli was fresh and new, the men on her crew were not willing to take the time to teach her the tips and tricks that the rest of the men already had up their sleeves, like using the hairpin method when measuring something much taller than herself. She was forced to learn everything on her own, making mistakes along the way. Eli stressed how important Oregon Tradeswomen’s pre-apprenticeship class is precisely because it elevates women to the level of the men they are working with and prepares them to succeed. More than that, the program fosters a community and serves as a resource to women that Eli wished she’d had all those years ago. For all of these reasons, Eli prioritizes her job with Oregon Tradeswomen; as a stone mason and metalworker, she turns down jobs that won’t be flexible with her teaching schedule. Her work with Oregon Tradeswomen “is more important than anything [she has] ever done.”

After seeing our students in action and conversing with impassioned Oregon Tradeswomen staff, it was clear to our guests from PepsiCo that our organization exemplifies the guiding principles of their Performance with Purpose initiative.  As a global company, PepsiCo is committed to serving local communities not only through transitioning to healthier food and beverage opportunities, making our food systems more sustainable but also investing in local programs like Oregon Tradeswomen that promote job training, gender parity and pay equity for women in the workplace.

Oregon Tradeswomen is likewise dedicated to making an impact in all these areas by starting with the women from our local community. Our training program provides them with all the skills and support they need to start a new career in the skilled trades and become economically independent. At the same time, we partner with other organizations during training to offer educational opportunities in exchange for work that has an impact on the community, such as new tiny houses for Dignity Village. Once graduated, we support our alums by connecting them with apprenticeship and job opportunities where they can apply all they have learned, continue to learn, and begin to pay it forward by repairing and building hospitals, parks, schools, bridges, and everything a community would need to flourish.

Our Summer 2018 TACC cohort graduated on August 28, 2018 and as we do with every graduating class, we celebrated these women and their hard work with a special ceremony and reception. PepsiCo’s Jim Nam presented Oregon Tradeswomen with a check for $45,000 to help us continue making a difference in the lives of these women and the communities they live in. We are privileged to have been chosen to help further PepsiCo’s Performance with Purpose goals and we look forward to the bright future we can build together!

Your Voice Matters!

When we turn 18, we are granted the privilege of being able to vote in local, state, and national elections. We cast our votes to help shape the direction our country, to reflect our values and visions in the form of laws and elected officials. Even still, many people choose not to exercise their right to vote. Be it accessibility, apathy, not liking any of the candidates, or just not believing their vote will make a difference, there are many reasons why people don’t vote.

When people think of voting, they often think of the Presidential election that comes every 4 years, but there are many more elections that are just as, if not more important! State and local elections can happen every year with new initiatives, city counsel members, state legislators, governors, judges, and much more on the ballot. These elections are often overlooked, but they can be the most important as they affect the communities we live in! For those who are disenfranchised with the electoral college or political system as a whole, this is a surefire way to feel like your vote is making a difference. That is because it is!

Every two years, our country holds federal elections. That means that every two years, 1/3 of all US Senators and all 435 representatives in the House are up for re-election. When there is not a President up for election, we call these elections the Midterms as they happen midway through a President’s four-year term. Who we vote into Congress can be even more important than who we elect as President because it is the House of Representatives and the Senate who pass the bills that the President signs into law. Of course Presidents are important, but our representatives in Congress are who we voice our wants, needs, and concerns to with hope that they will do something about them!

This year, 2018, is a Midterm election, and an important one at that. The country is divided and so we need more people to make sure their voices are heard and participate in their civic duty! It is IMPORTANT for you to vote because it is We The People who decide how this country is run.

The first step is to get Registered to Vote!!! If you are not registered, this may seem like a daunting task, but it is actually SO easy. For example, in Oregon, whenever you update your address with the US Postal Service, they give you the option to Register to Vote!

If you still need to register, you may do so online here (some states may differ): https://vote.gov/

To vote in the Midterm elections, you must be registered by October 16th as the ballots will be mailed out on October 17th. You will have until October 29th to safely mail in your ballot, but you may drop your ballot off in one of the many Official Ballot Drop-boxes across Multnomah County until Election Day (Nov. 6th) at 8:00pm.

We sincerely hope that you feel empowered to participate in this 2018 election. We understand it may seem overwhelming, but there are many resources available to you online to help you through the process, some listed below.





Oregon Tradeswomen’s 2018 Career Fair Wrap-Up

On May 18th and 19th, Oregon Tradeswomen held our 26th Annual Career Fair and it was one of our best years ever! This enormously impactful event, graciously hosted once again by the NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center, featured more than 100 companies and organizations representing the trades and other non-traditional career paths for women, and offered insights into the possibilities of a future in those careers to more than 2,300 students and adult career seekers.

To make the Career Fair more accessible and easier to navigate, Oregon Tradeswomen worked with event app developer Crowd Compass to create our very own application for the event. The application included an interactive map, a list of exhibitors, activity schedules, and a social feed for attendees to share about their experiences at Fair throughout the day.

Building birdhouses with Skanska!

Career Fair attendees were met with unique opportunities to not only talk to employers at exhibit tables, but also participate in hands-on activities and workshops. From using an excavator to pick up a tire with the Operating Engineers Local 701, to building a birdhouse with Skanska, the experiences offered at Oregon Tradeswomen’s Career Fair visibly stirred excitement about the construction trades among the participants.

Melinda of the IUOE Local 701 teaching a young woman how to use an excavator!

The most raucous enthusiasm came from the middle and high school girls who attended the Career Fair on Friday May 18th, School Girls’ Day. With record attendance, 75 schools came from as far south as Roseburg and as far north as Castle Rock bringing more than 1,300 students! Many of these young women had never imagined a future in the trades for themselves, but after participating in workshops and talking to tradeswomen, they began to see that their interests aligned with some of the careers introduced to them at the Career Fair. The school girls were so moved by their experiences that we heard back from several schools. A teacher from Madras said,

“We’ve been taking students for the past 12+ years and it gets better each year.”

Even the whole Pendleton School District wrote back saying,

“[We] attended the recent Career Fair for the first time ever and had an absolutely amazing time. We brought 30+ middle school and high school students who positively glowed with excitement about the experience on the ride home and are already looking forward to next year. We loved the wide range of exhibits and activities and the staff and exhibitors were so inspiring.”

School Girls Day at Oregon Tradeswomen’s 26th Annual Career Fair!

Usually, Friday’s School Girls’ Day outshines the Saturday crowd, but this year Saturday was nearly as busy as Friday with more than 1,000 people flowing in and out of the NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center to participate in hands-on activities and speak with representatives at their exhibit booths! A few of the students from Friday returned to the Career Fair on Saturday with their friends and families to show them the workshops and careers that sparked a genuine interest!

One of the crowd favorite, and overall inspirational elements of Oregon Tradeswomen’s annual Career Fair was the Tradeswomen Fashion Show where real women working in the trades and other nontraditional careers had their moment on stage and in the spotlight, to talk about what their job entails, how they came to be tradeswomen, and why they love the work they do.

Fashion Show participants at Oregon Tradeswomen’s 26th Annual Career Fair!

Oregon Tradeswomen annual Career Fair is important because it is a place where women and girls can see other women who are successful in an industry where you don’t see very women. It was truly inspiring to see how many women of all ages discover that they, too, can pursue these careers. It all goes back to our favorite adage, “If you can see it, you can be it!”


Trades & Apprenticeship Career Class Graduation

You’re Invited!

Oregon Tradeswomen’s Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class Graduation!

Thursday, August 24, 2017
5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

PCC Metropolitan Workforce Training Center
Building 2 in the Auditorium
5600 NE 42nd Avenue
Portland, OR 97218

Click for the street address on Google Maps

Light appetizers & cake will be served!

Congratulations, Graduates!

Chris Alexander
Ursi Berliner
Heather Borgsteede
Katie Colpo
Haley DeVore
Dary Estevez
CoCo Feller
Natalie Fortune
Grace Goodman
Amy Haddox
Finch Hogue
Joanna Levy
Kelli Losli
Sarah Robertson
Lati Tuitavuki
Mac Walton
Val Wright

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!

OTI’s Next Executive Director: Kelly Kupcak

Kelly Kupcak (left) with Connie Ashbrook (right). Photo by Don McIntosh / NW Labor Press

Thank you for all of your well-wishes, congratulations, and other kind words when we
announced OTI founder and Executive Director, Connie Ashbrook’s, forthcoming retirement last October.

We are pleased to tell you that Oregon Tradeswomen’s Board of Directors has hired OTI’s next Executive Director.

Kelly Kupcak, from Chicago Women in Trades, will take the reins of Oregon Tradeswomen on July 10, 2017. She brings more than two decades of nonprofit management experience to her new role as Executive Director of Oregon Tradeswomen.

Kelly holds a fundamental belief that economic equity and gender inclusion are critical to building strong women, strong families, and strong communities. Kelly brings considerable skills in strategic visioning, collaborative leadership, and outcomes-driven planning, and looks forward to expanding OTI’s impact in workforce development and building diversity in Oregon’s construction trades workforce.

From Left:  Sharon Latson (Chicago Women in Trades), Kelly Kupcak (OTI’s Incoming Executive Director), Melissa Jennings (Volunteer), and Olivia Porter (Volunteer)

Most recently, Kelly served as the Director of Technical Assistance for the National Center for Women’s Equity in Apprenticeship and Employment at Chicago Women in Trades. She managed a highly competitive, multi-year U.S. Department of Labor ten-state regional grant-funded initiative and a U.S. Department of Labor contract, national in scope, to improve outcomes for women in nontraditional sectors through technical assistance to industry partners including employers, registered apprenticeship, workforce system, career technical system, and government entities.

Connie will continue to be involved with national policy by serving as co-chair of the Taskforce on Tradeswomen Issues and conducting training, providing technical assistance and other consulting services to help employers, apprenticeship programs, unions, and government agencies diversify their workforces, and assisting Career and Technical Education (CTE) trade programs to attract and retain more women and girls.

Kelly plans to visit the 25th Women in Trades Career Fair on May 19 and 20, 2017, and she will officially start in her new role with Oregon Tradeswomen on Monday, July 10, 2017. Kelly looks forward to meeting you soon, whether at the Women in Trades Career Fair or another event later in the year.


Read more about Kelly from Stephanie Basalyga, Editor of the Daily Journal of Commerce: