Kimberly Howard champions education for PGE and Oregon

Kimberly Howard champions education for PGE and Oregon

Announced 8/20/2020

This week, Kimberly Howard, principal Corporate Social Responsibility specialist, takes on the prestigious role as chair of the State Board of Education, which is charged by Gov. Kate Brown to provide leadership and vision for Oregon’s public schools and districts by enacting equitable policies and practices that contribute to the education and life of every student.

“It’s a huge honor. I love having the opportunity to be on the frontline, putting the needs of students first when it comes to setting policy.”

– Kimberly Howard, principal Corporate Social Responsibility specialist

“Kimberly is a dynamic, engaging leader and will be an outstanding chair of the state board of education,” said Dave Robertson, vice president, Public Affairs. “As a parent with kids in public school, I have great confidence knowing Kimberly is in charge.”

The role of State Board of Education Chair is tailor-made for Kimberly. Since she joined the company in 2014, she has helped lead the company’s corporate engagement educational strategy in our Corporate Social Responsibility department and serves as program officer for the PGE Foundation. She led the work to have PGE partner with Portland Public Schools to create the first-of-its-kind K-12 climate literacy curriculum. She also leads the company’s successful collaboration with STEM Oregon.

It’s her work with former CEO Jim Piro on PGE’s STEM Oregon collaboration that first brought her to the attention of the Board of Education. She was nominated to the first of two four-year terms with the board in 2016.

“I got the call asking if I would join the board just as I was going into labor with my twin boys. You can imagine it was several weeks before I was able to get back to them and let them know I was up to the challenge,” she said with a laugh. “In addition to supporting PGE and the Governor, I had a very personal reason for wanting to join the board. I wanted to work to improve our schools so they’d be ready in 2021, when my boys start kindergarten.”

She’s proud of all the board has been able to accomplish, especially rule-making for Oregon’s Student Success Act, which the Legislature approved in 2019. The act calls for $1 billion to be invested in early learning every year, with a special focus on improving access and opportunities for students who have been historically underserved in our education system, especially Black, Indigenous, students of color.

She takes on this new role at a particularly challenging time.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty about the school year ahead,” Kimberly said. “And this time of COVID is illuminating more than ever the importance of engaging students in a more holistic, equitable and student-centered way.” ​​​​​​​

Board service a great way to volunteer

“I feel especially lucky to work at a company that encourages and supports employees who are interested in board service.”

PGE encourages employees who are active in the community to consider volunteering on an educational, nonprofit or government board. Doing so can be rewarding, allowing you to support an organization you love in a very meaningful way. It can also provide you with leadership skills that can help in your career development.

You can find opportunities for board service on the myCommunity page of myPGE. You can also reach out to PGE Volunteer Coordinator Whitney Welsh, who can help you decide if board service is right for you.