Staci joined our team in Nov. 2017 as a sales representative, and quickly became one of the top salespeople on our team! (And that's saying something, because it's hard to beat the company's own founders...) You've probably met her sampling our nut butters + sharing our story at various New Seasons and Whole Foods around town. Staci is one of the most friendly, positive, professional + driven women we know, and we are beyond lucky to have her out there reppin' Ground Up. Read on below to learn more about her.
Hi Staci! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m originally from Tacoma, Washington, and moved to Portland January 2010. It took me a while to adjust to the culture here! I started college right away at the PCC Southeast campus, and it was there that I met my first friend.
During my time at PCC I was involved with the student body government; I applied and was accepted for the position of the Black Student Union Coordinator. There I was able to share my purpose and express myself as an independent black woman, and also connect with small businesses and individuals in the community. The year after that, I applied for the position of student body president. I was hired on, and later became more involved as a member of the education advisory and strategic advisory boards.
I’m a very passionate person, and like to listen to music to take a break. I find it therapeutic. When I listen to music, I don’t have to worry about things outside of my control.
What made you want to move to Portland?
Both of my parents moved away from home when they were in their early twenties. I was inspired by them to make a change in my life and experience a new environment.
What brought you to Ground Up?
I learned about Ground Up through the job retention manager at Dress for Success. Dress for Success is a place for young women to make positive connections in the community, through career building and empowerment. The manager there, Therese, emailed me relentlessly about Ground Up until I finally checked it out!
What is your favorite part about the job?
I get to travel and meet new people! I enjoy sharing the story of Ground Up for women in the community who are looking for work. This business is a platform for women to become more empowered and self sufficient.
What fuels your interest in non-profits?
I am driven by the importance of advocating for someone who can’t advocate for themselves; everyone deserves to have a voice. In 2015, transferred from PCC to PSU with an associates of science transfer degree. Two years later, I received a degree in community development. My passion is representing people of color and low-income folks.
What does empowerment mean to you?
Empowerment is encouraging somebody else and yourself. Sharing gratitude, acknowledging that the work we do at Ground Up is very important. Especially coming from different life situations, you want to lift each other up. Confidence is everything! Things might not always work out, but that’s okay. It’s an opportunity for growth and transformation.
What’s your favorite flavor of nut butter?
The Coconut Cardamom one—it’s complex, and I’m complex. I like to make it into a sauce for meat, like shrimp. It’s delicious!
What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
My academic career was challenging. I felt like, past a diploma, what’s the point? Money is a problem. College is expensive and students worry about being in debt. Oftentimes at school I would ask myself, why should I get this piece of paper again? I needed mentors and instructors in my life to remind me that knowledge is power, and that no one can take that away. It’s something you can continually apply throughout your life, and in the end will always be more valuable and fundamental than material things.
I come from a family who is more concerned with being a hard worker; I’m the first one in my family to graduate from college. I feel that my involvement encourages my siblings, through my posts on Facebook and things like that.
What advice would you give to a young woman struggling to change her situation for the better?
Love yourself. People and life will disappoint, but if you love yourself you can get through anything. Not to say you shouldn’t have people support you, but you should be able to have your own back through everything. Believe in yourself, have a positive mindset, and don’t worry so much! Go with the flow. Life is much easier if you appreciate the present moment and live day to day. I have a mentor who told me, “Try not to have it so figured out! When you worry less, life becomes an adventure.” As another mentor showed me, if you can get used to being uncomfortable, the world is your oyster.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to continue working in community development. I plan to move to the East Coast, where I feel there is a need I can help fill.
Learn to reflect. Speak your truth, but respectfully.
Thank you, Staci! We’re lucky to have you. Your drive and passion brings momentum and enthusiasm to the whole team.