Meet our Alumi —
Lorilei Juntunen, Senior Planner at ECONorthwest
What Community Service Center program(s) did you work with?
The Community Planning Workshop (CPW)
What year(s) were you affiliated with the Community Service Center (CSC)?
2002 – 2004
What was your most memorable experience or greatest accomplishment with CPW?
I was able to work on a variety projects as a student and project manager. My first year on the team involved addressing housing issues for migrant farm workers. We facilitated workshops with the community of workers to dig into the policy issues that regulate housing for migrant workers. I can’t think of another program that you could have such a powerful and surreal experience especially while working in rural Oregon. It was very unusual program to be able to be so bottom up with a project and to be so hands on in something that is far out of the public eye.
Another experience includes my time with OPDR, working to identify resilience issues in communities of the Cascades region. Because of this experience I began working part time with ECONorthwest. That part time job became my career and 9 years later I am employed with the same organization and part owner.
What was the most critical skill(s) you learned from being engaged in CSC programs?
Public speaking and project management were developed while dealing with real communities with varied concerns. We were able to gain experience of how to professionally facilitate a meeting all the while under the watchful eye of this (CPW) program.
What was your first job after engaging with the CSC, with what organization and where?
I started as a research analyst at ECONorthwest, directly related to work at the CSC.
Who is your current employer and what’s your current position/title/role? What do you do in your position?
I am Senior Planner and Managing Director at ECONorthwest in Portland, Oregon
What professional organizations do you belong to?
Oregon Chapter of the American Planning Association (OAPA) and the City Club of Portland
What advice would you give someone just entering this field?
Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. If you are not operating at the edge of your comfort zone, you can’t advance. Planning is a rich field; it’s a profession that allows its professionals to practice at the cutting edge of systems change. Take advantage of the opportunities to explore the richness of the field while pushing yourself; if you are not engaged you may miss an opportunity.
The Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) Program was founded in 1994 as a way to bring service-learning to Oregon and to offer the skills, experience and idealism of University of Oregon students to many of Oregon’s depressed rural communities. The timing was uniquely appropriate. In the mid-90’s, “service learning” was gaining attention and support across the country, and the year of RARE’s inception saw the beginning of the nationally recognized AmeriCorps program. It was also a time of significant federal investment in the Northwest in response to the mandates of the Northwest Forest Plan and the Northwest Economic Adjustment Initiative.
Since its inception, RARE AmeriCorps has placed over 400 graduate level participants in countless rural communities across the state. RARE AmeriCorps’ mission is to increase the capacity of rural communities to improve their own economic, social, and environmental conditions. To achieve this mission, every year RARE AmeriCorps places trained graduate level participants in communities across the State of Oregon where they work for public agencies, special districts, and non-profit organizations on issues of rural community building. RARE AmeriCorps impact is two-fold, both building capacity in rural communities with limited resources while also providing participants with invaluable field experience in community development and planning… A true “win-win” situation!
This year RARE AmeriCorps will celebrate its 20th anniversary of service to rural Oregon communities. For those of you who aren’t familiar with RARE AmeriCorps, the work we do is truly unique and distinctive among community development and service learning programs across the country. The fact is we really have something special going here. Giving back to the community by directly linking graduate-level students from the University of Oregon and around the country into community development efforts in rural Oregon communities is something we have and always will take pride in. In the initial 19 years of operations RARE AmeriCorps participants have taken lead on a variety of city, community, and regional initiatives, including such projects as watershed enhancement, community and economic development, parks and recreation development, sustainable food systems, main street programming and natural resource development. In the process, the program has developed a strong reputation in rural Oregon and enhanced university outreach and service to these communities. The 20th anniversary of RARE AmeriCorps provides both a milestone and an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of this wonderful organization.