When Kelly Kupcak, Oregon Tradeswomen’s 2nd ever Executive Director, announced to our Board of Directors that she needed to return home to Ohio to be in closer proximity to her family and aging father, the Board rallied and worked with a consultant to determine the best next steps for the organization.
Now entering our 34th year as a nonprofit, Oregon Tradeswomen (OTW) is excited to share that a founding member, former Board of Directors Treasurer, and tradeswoman pioneer, Donna Hammond, has stepped in to serve as Interim Executive Director.
Under Kelly’s leadership, Oregon Tradeswomen made strides to expand opportunities for Oregonians. Our organization was able to level-up and secure our own workshop to run our program in-house for the first time in our history.
Oregon Tradeswomen also began expanding state-wide to provide crucial career education to women and non-binary individuals living in rural communities. Oregon Tradeswomen now serves more BIPOC students than ever before, hand-in-hand with the implementation of the Helen Getchell Women of Color Fund to provide specific support to BIPOC tradeswomen+.
Almost all people served through our pre-apprenticeship program, the Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class, report having a low-income and are looking to leave poverty behind. Because of Kelly’s leadership, we removed an additional barrier to attending our class class by providing all students with a $15/hr wage equivalency during training. In a groundbreaking move, Oregon Tradeswomen also successfully launched a direct-entry pipeline from our pre-apprenticeship training to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48 and United Association Local 290 Plumbers, Steamfitters, HVAC/R, and Marine Pipefitters apprenticeship programs, supporting the high job-placement of our Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class graduates!
Over the past 6 years, Oregon Tradeswomen’s work has grown to encompass more advocacy efforts to improve the experiences of non-traditional tradesworkers on the jobsite. Oregon Tradeswomen made great efforts to increase retention of women in the trades through the implementation of a job-site culture change program called RISE Up– and is an affiliate trainer of this program. Today, more than 700 employees at 15 different organizations have already completed training and we are working with another 10 organizations to implement RISE Up on their job-sites.
This initiative strongly compliments the work done with the Safe From Hate Alliance and the Tradesworker Equity Council, engaging both industry partners and diverse tradesworkers to stand up against racism, sexism, and trans/homophobia in the industry.
Kelly’s leadership also made significant impacts in the legislative sphere as she engaged local, state, and federal policymakers to include funding for pre-apprenticeship programs and initiatives to increase racial and gender diversity and equity in the trades.
Oregon Tradeswomen’s founding Executive Director, Connie Ashbrook, reflected on the change, saying, “As the founder of Oregon Tradeswomen and longtime colleague of Kelly Kupcak, I am so proud and appreciative to see the growth and expansion of Oregon Tradeswomen that she has led over the last six years since I retired… I am excited to see what is next for Oregon Tradeswomen that will be made possible because of the work accomplished under her leadership.”
As Donna Hammond assumes leadership of OTW as it’s 3rd ever Executive Director, she shared, “It is an honor for me to serve as the Interim Executive Director. I’ll be working alongside some of the best, brightest, and most passionate individuals in the construction industry who share a commitment to pre-apprenticeships. My goal is to build upon Oregon Tradeswomen’s success while continuing to expand and support the pathways of competent applicants to meet tomorrow’s construction needs.”
Oregon Tradeswomen is fortunate to have Donna’s lived experience, long history with the organization, and commitment to this work and mission. Change is never easy, but passing the torch to Donna Hammond will surely build upon our organization’s strong foundation as we continue to serve women, non-binary, and trans individuals on their pathways to prosperity.