Oregon Tradeswomen logo - clicking here takes you to the website home page
Link to the Oregon Tradeswomen Facebook pagelink to YouTube page link to Twitter page subscribe to rss feed



A Peek Behind the Curtain – And a Big Thank You

Bringing in the money to keep nonprofits going, year after year, is mostly like a big patchwork quilt your grandma made. It has:

  • Bits of solid old fabric (funders who are with you year after year)
  • Patches of new fabric (new donors) to cover the worn spots
  • Yearly mending to keep the quilt from fraying as the years go by.


Those of us who work at nonprofits often ask each other about this patchwork and share stories of pain and triumph. 2020 started as a year full of hope and excitement – we moved into our beautiful new workshop and training facility in January. We set up desks for our newly expanded staff and welcomed the first group of students into the new classroom where we expected to serve more women and do it more effectively than ever before. On track to offer classes in the evenings and on weekends, we had finally removed one of the historic barriers  preventing more women from taking advantage of this free, life changing resource.


As the year wore on, it felt like the rug was pulled out from under our feet with COVID health and safety restrictions forcing us to cancel classes and our oh-so-beloved annual Career Fair.


But then the light started to shine through the window and help started to show up in many different forms:

  • We’re grateful to the Foundation Partners who called to say that our grant funding could be used to simply get through the year.
  • Long time industry partners, hearing about lost funding, said – “how can we help?” – then they dug deep and doubled or tripled their “normal” investment.
  • A ten year old named Earlie, who saves her money all year to help local nonprofits, sent in a gift of $25 (Thank you Earlie!)
  • When we needed extra tools to set up the training workshop in a COVID-safe way, and I couldn’t reach my local contacts, the leadership team at Milwaukee Tools simply said “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you”
  • When we needed extra lumber and supplies to re-start training, Parr Lumber and Platt Electric donated everything on our wish list.
  • A woman I’ve never met knocked on the front door, told me she had known about our work for some time and thought we might need some help. She sat and wrote us a check saying, “Use it wherever you need it most”.
  • In the first two weeks of the Willamette Week Give!Guide, half of all the donors have made their first gift to the organization.


We’re grateful for every person, for every dollar and for every kind word that has helped us get through this year – including Laura, who sent in $10 and said “I’m unemployed right now, I wish this was more”.


To every single person who has invested in our work and the mission of OTW, and who’s helping us put women to work, giving them and their families a secure future – YOU will forever be part of our well loved patchwork quilt.

Thank you,


Lisa Palermo
Development Director



Posted on by OTI Staff in About Oregon Tradeswomen, Community Partners, Support OTI | Leave a comment

Construction Careers Education and Career Pathways Navigation Program

Like many nonprofits during this tumultuous year, Oregon Tradeswomen was challenged to shift our training, programming, and services in this time of social distancing due to COVID while still meeting the needs of our community, our industry, and the many women looking to start careers in the skilled construction trades.

Our team turned the challenge into an opportunity to build something bigger, and better, and our updated program and service offerings in 2021 means more women will have access to our training and expanded resources and support, including:

  • Women outside the Portland Metropolitan region
  • Women in rural communities
  • Women living on Tribal Lands
  • Women serving as caretakers during COVID restrictions
  • And many others

In 2021, Oregon Tradeswomen will launch our re-envisioned Construction Careers Education Sessions and will provide additional information, resources, and support to women seeking to enter the skilled construction trades. 

We will offer monthly webinars where jobseekers can learn about the many exciting and dynamic opportunities in the skilled trades, learn how to navigate the nuances of registered apprenticeship, the construction industry, and navigate a successful career in the industry.

Whether someone needs more skills, has some experience and needs help putting together a trades resume and preparing for an interview, or needs a bit more support before starting an apprenticeship-readiness program, our Construction Careers Education and Career Pathways Navigation Program team will be there to help. 

Stay tuned for a schedule of events coming in January 2021!  We look forward to putting more women to work!


Posted on by OTI Staff in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Labor Day Message from Oregon Tradeswomen’s Executive Director

Original photo by Alfred T. Palmer – Image credit to United States Library of Congress

The first Labor Day in the United States was celebrated in 1882, almost two decades before women had the right to vote and before the U.S. Department of Labor recognized the contributions of women to the Labor Movement by creating the Women’s Bureau. Nevertheless, women contributed to the Labor Movement before it was even called a movement.

Women like:

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, who was once called the “most dangerous woman in America”, fought to protect child workers and push for enforcement of child labor laws. She became an organizer for the United Mine Workers and stood up to big companies and organized coal miners to demand better conditions for workers.

Velma Hopkins, an African-American organizer with Local 22 of the Food, Tobacco, Agricultural, and Allied Workers of America-CIO. She mobilized 10,000 workers in North Carolina to unionize R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta, a labor leader and civil rights activist who, with Cesar Chavez, co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. She was tireless in her fight for worker rights, immigrant rights, and women’s rights.

Frances Perkins who, having personally witnessed workers jump to their death during the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, helped to pass strong labor laws after becoming the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet as Secretary of Labor in 1933.

Ai-Jen Poo who worked to organize domestic workers in 2000, and was key in the passage of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in New York. The bill legitimated domestic workers and gave them the same lawful rights as other employees, such as vacation time, and overtime pay.

Hattie Canty, the legendary African-American unionist was one of the greatest strike leaders in U.S. history. After her husband died, she raised eight children on her own and dedicated her life to improving the working conditions of others. She fought for a living wage and for the engagement of People of Color in the Labor movement. Her patient leadership helped knit together a labor union made up of members from 84 different nations!


The women noted here are just a few of the very many who made sacrifices for worker’s rights. 

As we mark the 100th anniversary of the creation of the U.S. Women’s Bureau, Oregon Tradeswomen would like to honor them, and all who have fought and continue to fight for our nation’s workforce. 

Oregon Tradeswomen is grateful for our partners in the Labor Movement, here in Oregon and across the country who work tirelessly for worker’s rights, dignity, and justice. We are with you in the fight today, and always, as today we honor our nation’s workers!


Kelly Kupcak, Executive Director
Oregon Tradeswomen

Posted on by OTI Staff in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

454 SE 187th Avenue, Portland, OR 97233; phone: 503.335.8200  |  fax: 503.249.0445