Ever want to start your own nonprofit? Check out this profile of Abby, who left a career in marketing to start her own nonprofit, The Portland Kitchen, and through her work inspired me daily with what she was able to build in community. The Portland Kitchen was a free, comprehensive culinary after-school program targeting Portland, Oregon high school students age 14 to 18. Inspired by DC-based Brainfood — a similar program with proven outcomes — their mission is to empower urban youth to graduate high school with job skills and improved eating habits. I’m honored to have been one of her volunteers supporting her efforts to make a difference in the lives of Portland’s youth.
What do you do for a living these days?
I’m the Founder and Executive Director of The Portland Kitchen — a free, comprehensive culinary after-school program.
What career were you in before this?
I worked in marketing for over 10 years at both for- and non-profit organizations.
What inspired you to make this transition?
Academically I was a good student most of my childhood; but, I did not do well my last few years of high school. I was fortunate to have adults in my life who helped me realize my potential. High school is tough and the problems facing our youth today are multi-faceted. It is truly unbelievable Oregon’s graduation rate is the nation’s 4th worst. Research is showing greater socioeconomic disparities on obesity. The after-school job opportunities – enabling youth to learn basic job skills – are decreasing. The Portland Kitchen is excited to address all three of these issues.
What were your biggest challenges in changing careers?
The learning curve! Everything about managing The Portland Kitchen is new. Fortunately I feel as though I can handle almost anything now.
What advice can you share with others thinking about moving into a new line of work?
Find a way to manage the highs and lows of your next adventure. Remain focused; but, stay flexible to opportunities as they arise.