Guest Blog: Shaley Howard

Shaley Howard is a tireless supporter of Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc.. She has immense creativity, amazing energy, and she recently embarked on a little campaign to raise awareness and support for our mission. So…. we asked Shaley to contribute a guest blog post to share more about her generous efforts. We hope you enjoy Shaley’s inspiring words and these wonderful images.

Thank you, Shaley!

Shaley Timbers selfies


















Why I Support Oregon Tradeswomen

Oregon Tradeswomen (OTI) is hands down one of my favorite non-profit organizations of all time! As a woman and self identified butch lesbian, I personally have found myself marginalized throughout my lifetime. And whether it’s some form of sexual discrimination or homophobia, I’m familiar with living in an intolerant, often ignorant world that tries to dictate what a woman’s role should be both personally and professionally. Luckily I was raised by a strong, intelligent, professional mother, four obnoxiously assertive and opinionated sisters and am surrounded daily by loads of powerful and strong-minded female friends. So the idea that any woman is pre-assigned a particular role or vocation in the world is asinine to me – and OTI.

I first learned about OTI when my friend Amy James Neel began teaching there years ago. I honestly had never heard of OTI before she started there, but the more I learned about the organization, the more I loved it.  An all female run organization that brings in women from all walks of life, teaches them skills in the trades and then find them living wage jobs – that’s huge. I also know how important it is for children to have positive, strong and working parents as role models. OTI gives women the ability to obtain high wage paying jobs in the trades, enables them to provide for their families and show their kids that a woman can do anything a man can do. If we want to fight poverty, racism and sexism and to teach women skills that are applicable to the world we live in and give them above average living wages – then give them a support system like OTI has in place and make sure they are able to get and keep jobs.

As someone who doesn’t actually work at OTI yet whole-heartedly supports them, the best thing I can do is help raise awareness about what they offer to women and our community. Over the years I’ve tried to come up with creative ideas – anything from making my birthday a big OTI fundraiser to volunteering at their Women in the Trades Fair to writing blogs about OTI for PQ Monthly. I’ve also brought in coffee, cupcakes and other goodies for the hardworking women that work there – if anyone deserves the occasional treat it’s these women.

My latest idea came when I was lucky enough to be selected to be on a Timbers billboard for the Portland Timbers Football Club. I thought since the image is me looking all super tough and warrior like, what better way to shout to the world who the REAL strong warriors are – the women of OTI. So I put a challenge out to anyone and everyone who took a selfie in front of my billboard, posted it and donated to OTI – I would in turn donate $5 myself. And it seems to be working! Not only are we raising some money for OTI but perhaps more importantly we’re spreading the word about all the amazing things OTI does. Hopefully the next time I’m randomly talking about OTI I won’t get the question – what is OTI?

If anyone wants to take the Timbers billboard selfie challenge it’s located at Sandy and Burnside and NE 12th.

I cannot thank all the women of OTI enough for all you do for women and our community. Go on with your badass warrior selves and change the world!

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