Rachael, affectionately known as “The Fearless Leader” to her staff, worked as a barista, wedding photographer, nanny, corporate manager, trainer, and numerous other people-oriented positions before discovering her passion in life when she began working with adults with developmental disabilities. Her desire to help people in need, and the community at large, led her to establish Pacific Opportunities in 2009. Since then, her once one-woman show now staffs several employees and has assisted hundreds of adults with employment barriers in the Portland Metro area.
Contrary to popular belief, Rachael does not work twenty-four hours per day. In fact, she’s been known to watch documentaries, paddle board in Maui, sing, play with her four adorable kiddos, spend time with her wife and family, play guitar and drums, camp, and swim. She is, however, always looking to lend a hand, listen, or otherwise help anyone who may be in need.
In her role as Operations Manager, Kimm is known for instilling confidence in her clients while helping them place structure and accountability into their work and/or job search. She has an innate gift for helping clients discover the tools they need to be successful before and during their quest for employment.
Kimm left her sweet home of Alabama to obtain a degree in journalism from Boston University. After spending a decade in the dry Arizona desert as a technical copy editor for environmental consulting firms and a few small magazines, she relocated to the rainy Pacific Northwest, a climate better suited to her temperament. Although she is currently pursuing her Master’s in Social Work at PSU, she still finds time to wax poetic about the Oxford comma and other nuances of punctuation and grammar.
As a native Pacific Northwesterner, Liz has returned to her roots to become the Program Manager at Pacific Opportunities. Above all else, Liz considers herself an adventurer and you can catch her kayaking, cooking, hiking, and camping whenever possible. She loves to travel off the beaten path and has taken several cross-country road trips exploring the United States and Canada. Liz also spends as much time as possible with her two young nieces and her nephew, which was a major factor in her permanent return to Portland. Liz’s work adventures include being a nanny, an office assistant, and a client services manager before becoming a middle school science teacher for 10 years, which was an adventure all of its own! She has also worked in high-tech, law offices, and homeless shelters. Her varied background has taught her to truly appreciate that individuality and diversity can create an atmosphere of acceptance where people feel comfortable just being themselves. This has led to her success in creating fun and effective relationships built on trust and respect.
After receiving her degree in culinary arts, Janet spent over 10 years working in and managing restaurants. Her passion for helping her employees succeed in their positions, and a past working relationship with Rachael Holland, led her to Pacific Opportunities to do just that. As a job developer, she utilizes the people skills she’s honed over her career to help each and every client discover their own passion and pursue it in their job search.
Her love of travel guided Janet cross country from her home of New York to Oregon. She loved it so much she stayed! The travel bug is still alive and well, however, and she never turns down an opportunity to discover some place new. When in town, Janet enjoys home improvement projects and entertaining for family and friends, putting her culinary arts degree to good use.
At age 14, Erik landed his first job as a plate umpire for Little League baseball games. Since then, having worked in various roles in healthcare, legal services, academia, and manufacturing, Erik appreciates the diverse ways employees contribute to organizational excellence across many industries. His unbridled enthusiasm for nurturing each individual’s talents and aspirations informs his customized approach to job development, and supports his mission to help companies achieve a high-performing, sustainable workforce. In his down time, Erik can be found surfing at dawn, trail running mid-morning, and after a ten-taco lunch, trying to make street handball happen in Portland. Erik and his wife like nothing more than to spend a Sunday refinishing century-old doors and tending to their modest paw paw and pineapple guava orchard. Erik holds a Master of Public Administration degree and is perpetually just around the corner from starting that PhD.
While volunteering overseas, Jessica discovered a passion for helping those with disabilities — so much so, that upon her return to Oregon she decided to make it a career. In her role as a Discovery Specialist and Job Coach, Jessica utilizes those skills and tools she has developed in her 8 years of work to bring out the best in clients and watch them grow in ways they never imagined.
In her down time, Jessica often finds herself in search of a new consignment shop, curling up with a good book in the winter, or going for hikes in the Columbia Gorge with her wife and friends.
Amy Simpson is an East Coast Philly Girl at heart (yo!) but calls Portland her home after living here for 17 years. She has worked in education as an Art Teacher on the Navajo Indian reservation in Arizona and as a Special Education Assistant Teacher for Portland Public Schools, as a Recovery Mentor and Substance Abuse Counselor for Central City Concern, and is now one of the Pacific Opportunities Employment Specialist All Stars. Amy is an accomplished visual artist studying to be a Licensed Art Therapist at Lewis and Clark College. She really digs live music and tries to catch as many of April Brown’s shows as she can. Working with our folks brings Amy a lot of joy and connection in the community. She feels super fortunate to be a part of the Pacific Opportunities team and to work with such amazing clients!
Born in Portland and currently living in Vancouver, Sara recently graduated from Western Washington University, where she studied Human Services. Some of her work experiences include restaurants, childcare, case aide for a foster care agency, recreational programs for adults with disabilities, and now, an employment coach. Don’t be fooled by her low-key, can-do presence: Sara is passionate about helping her clients succeed in their jobs. Sara plans to pursue a dual Master’s degree in Social Work and Public Health (hopefully starting fall 2019). Sara doesn’t do very well with downtime and often spends any free time before or after work with friends or playing some kind of sport. As the youngin’ at Pacific Opportunities, Sara claims to love singing and dancing to “throwbacks.” This raises coworkers’ eyebrows, because to her, music from the ’00s is considered a throwback. Passions include traveling to places she feels uncomfortable in (in a good way!), long trail runs, bagels, and Panang curry.
A recent graduate of Willamette University, Heather is an advocate of late afternoon runs, dark chocolate, good books, even better friends, and ultimately, helping others to recognize and reach their potential. She has put her Sociology and Gender Studies degrees to work previously when coordinating large-scale service projects, supervising youth experiencing homelessness, and connecting queer folks to the outdoors—as well as a short stint at a Yellowstone call center where she often had to run away from pregnant elk. Like Sara, Heather doesn’t do well with downtime and is often outside trying to soak in that elusive Oregon sunshine, whether walking the buttes of Portland, exploring hiking trails in the Gorge, or attempting (with moderate success) to grow vegetables in her backyard.
April is a Los Angeles native, but don’t hold that against her. She also grew up in Bend, OR, and has been mildly obsessed with Portland since she graduated from Bend Senior High School in the ‘90s and still had eyebrows. She received her B.A. in Theater from California State University Northridge and worked in theater and comedy troupes, sang back-up in several popular LA bands, and studied improv at the famous Groundlings Theater, all while holding down high-level administrative 9-5 jobs and singing in church. Her dream was finally realized when she moved to Portland in 2009 and Oregon was her home again. She currently is the front woman for Portland blues band and CBA Journey to Memphis winner and IBC semi-finalist SISTER MERCY. When she’s not bookkeeping, job coaching, or wearing many other hats with impeccable style at Pacific Opportunities or commanding the stage, April is a personal stylist. She is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.