Clackamas Community College appoints Karin Power to board
In taking the oath of office on Sept. 21, Power edged out the other applicant for the vacant position: Deb Barnes, who teaches media and communications for the North Clackamas School District.
Chaimov, who left the board position early in order to spend more time with his grandchild in Washington state, is familiar with Power; they lived in the same neighborhood.
Power also attended the college's Summer Connections event, which stood out to CCC President Tim Cook who lent his voice in support of Power when asked by the board for input.
"I appreciate the conversation," Cook said, "I think I saw the same things you saw after last week, both are very, very talented and I think really care also about the college. Really impressed with the work they had done. Cut to the chase, I think Karin Power's past legislative background would be really helpful for us."
Despite both candidates being strong contenders for the appointment, Cook said Power has "been engaged in other work with us, she's worked with us a little on some child care issues and some other things moving forward. As I looked at that and looked at the board …. I think I can see Karin working really well with all of you and so from my perspective that I think she edges out."
"It is just an unexpected gift to have this board vacancy," Power said during her interview. "Over the last couple of years, I have been working most especially on access to child care as a workforce issue, as an education barrier, as an underinvestment in the littlest kids in a way that really holds back women, moms, from being able to participate in the workforce."
"I'm close, I think, to the average age of a CCC student," Power said, "and I believe fervently in the opportunities that our community college network affords people to find careers that fit for them on a timeline that fits them."
The recently appointed board member sees some challenges facing the college: budget constraints, staff retention and wage pressures.
"I think meeting the moment and being nimble with limited budget really is, probably, one of the greatest challenges of our educational institutions, Power said.
"It's important for board members to be out in the community and representing broad sections," Power said in her interview, "not just their district but at events and seeing what folks are experiencing, listening to the barriers to education, so you're being mindful not just delivering high quality, affordable education for folks but are they able to get there? And, if not, how can we figure out how to help them get there? And then, once they're there, be successful."
Power is concerned with barriers to opportunity, things like food insecurity and housing insecurity, all the external factors that most people take for granted but which can stifle a person's ability to grow and learn through education.
"I think it's the board's work to be out and listening to those things," Power said, "and helping to also drive the vision, efficacy and advocacy on behalf of the community college."
"In terms of my commitment," Power said, "I can see that it is a time of unease and a time of reflection and change both for our state and our nation and I think meeting people where they are is first and foremost a key piece of that work, would be a key piece of my commitment so folks not only feel welcome, but they feel included, they see their own path to leadership in those areas and they feel safe in doing so."
Power has a vision for Clackamas Community College.
"I think of community colleges like I do our libraries; I wish they were also free, but that is not where we are; they are a vital piece of our fabric of our communities for people who are at all different walks of life all different experiences."
"Finding people where they are," Power said, "and helping them to see pathways to whatever success means for them. That might be couple classes here and there to learn a new skill. It might be a new career pathway. It might be more credits to get ready for college as a high school student. I think one that provides these opportunities in multiple languages, thinks intentionally about audiences and how you find them, how you reach them, how you make them feel like this is part of their community, is one that is succeeding in serving its people and playing that essential fabric of our communities."
"I would love to see more support in the entire pipeline of career development around affordable child care," Power said. "It is the lynchpin that we are missing in helping people be able to go to school, look for work, have kids have stable places to learn and play when they're little and frankly lift people out of poverty. That, to me would be a meaningful success."
Despite Power's unanimous appointment, not every board decision has everyone marching in the same direction and there may be times when Power disagrees with a board decision.
"You can disagree without being disagreeable or without making it personal," Power said. "I think that's part of the work of leadership and to set the tone for how you want other people to develop their own leadership."
Not every board decision will sit well with constituents and Power may have to field complaints and anger.
"Some people just need to be heard, they have a grievance and you are the person who's there and whose job it is to hear that grievance and that anger and just to be witness to that anger is really important, and whatever dissatisfaction. If you can take action or you think you might be able to take action I would."
Power said there's more to it than just listening and taking that initial action though:
"Closing the loop, following up too, is where people are so dissatisfied with government, with any institution, it's the lack of follow through. Once they've experienced an issue and I think that's how you really build faith in an organization, an institution it's that showing up for somebody when they needed you even if it is not a benefit to you that's really the important work of being an elected official."
Power will hold office until June 30, 2023, and is eligible to run for a four-year term on the board during the May 2023 election cycle.
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