Neighborhood Partnerships and the Oregon IDA Initiative are thrilled to have Itzel Spehar on board. Itzel join Laina Green as our second IDA Program Coordinator. I asked Itzel a few questions so we could all get to know her better.
Who are you and what will you be doing at NP?
My name is Itzel Spehar and I am a native of the State of Oaxaca, Mexico. After finishing college at Oregon State University I decided to stay in Oregon and started working with immigrant families whose children were attending schools in the Portland Metro Area. My position as a community liaison led me to create opportunities for individuals and families experiencing socioeconomic barriers. This job transitioned easily into the non-profit area where I have worked for the last 7 years. My previous job was at the Portland Housing Center as the IDA Program Coordinator for the agency.
At NP I will be supporting IDA providers so that they can manage the growing number of clients and accounts. I will be working on creating efficiencies for the IDA Initiative and look forward putting into practice new tools and practices to assist IDA Providers and participants.
What areas of expertise and interest do you have?
I come with 5 years of experience working with homeownership IDAs. I am aware of the challenges and barriers that low and mod income people experience in reaching an asset. I recognize the great effort FO’s do in order to assist their clients.
My interests are in the area of evaluation and efficiencies. We need to continue improving the way we deliver services because the program is growing and we need to keep up with the change.
What does opportunity mean to you?
Opportunity is the chance to acquire new knowledge and use it to improve our lives.
What difference can asset building make for individual and communities?
Asset building change people’s lives. It gives low to mod income individuals and families the opportunity to dream and believe that they can contribute to their communities. Asset building can break the poverty cycle and create better lives for children, women, and men in any given place.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. – Maya Angelou.
Choose one author, living or dead, that you would like to have dinner with.
This is a guest post by Jess Junke, Neighborhood Partnerships’ new Director of Economic Opportunity.
When I first started at Neighborhood Partnerships (NP) three years ago, I put a Post-it note above my desk that said: “I am thankful for the many challenges that enable me to grow.” I still look at that sun-faded piece of paper whenever a particularly difficult knot crosses my desk. It reminds me there is a silver lining to any challenge. When we’re able to rely on each other to untie the toughest knots, growth is that much more impactful.
With that in mind, I’m honored to announce I will continue my journey with Neighborhood Partnerships in a new leadership role as the Director of Economic Opportunity. Karie Herrlinger, our deputy director and former IDA manager, will continue to work with me and provide oversight and guidance for the IDA Initiative.
I am grateful for the experience I’ve been privileged to have thus far and energized by our collective passion for building strong pathways to opportunity for everyone in our communities. I’m looking forward to working for the same purpose in a different role through a systemic, collaborative approach. I welcome the intense learning and challenges that will come with this transition at NP.
In this new role, I will lead the IDA team in focusing on Initiative-wide issues of scale. I first look forward to a successful 2015 legislative session that will hopefully lead to a renewal of the 75% Tax Credit and a budgetary increase for the Initiative. I will examine our existing structures — keeping what works and finding solutions to what doesn’t. I’ll learn from other organization’s best practices and explore new technologies to enhance the delivery of IDAs for all of our diverse communities across the state. I will build new partnerships and strengthen our existing Initiative relationships. Together, we’ll explore other asset building strategies that are finding success across the country and examine the feasibility of bringing them to Oregon.
To put it lightly, I am feeling pretty stoked about this opportunity.
I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for all of our great partners, and I sincerely thank each and every one of you for sticking with NP and contributing to our collective growth. We will face more knots together. But I truly believe the strongest, most lasting solutions will be found if we continue to work together in a spirit of partnership and collaboration.