Light a Fire 2018: Extraordinary Board Member

Kimberly Howard: Actor, Foundation Leader, Dot Connector

The board member helps Portland Playhouse act on its intentions—and throw a great brunch party.

By Margaret Seiler October 17, 2018 Published in the November 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

Image: Loris Lora

"My life in Portland has been a lot about relationships that connect me to other things,” says Kimberly Howard, who first connected with the team at Portland Playhouse, the nonprofit theater whose board she sits on as development chair, in 2010. She was working at Oregon Cultural Trust, which had passed over the playhouse for a grant: She gave the theater guidance on what it needed to do to land one next time. “They had a real vision and mission for multiculturalism as a theater company, but I didn’t see that reflected in their staff or their board,” says Howard. “The next year when they came back, they had done that work.” 

That mission was one Howard believed in. The trained actor had helped run programs at Artists Repertory Theatre and the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center. As a state employee at the cultural trust, she couldn’t serve on nonprofit boards, but when she made the move in 2014 to the PGE Foundation, the playhouse came calling.

“She is a dynamo of strategic thinking and organizing people, or facilitating a shared vision,” says Brian Weaver, Portland Playhouse’s artistic director. Weaver credits Howard with the inception of April’s annual Rise and Shine, the brunch fundraiser that now provides nearly 10 percent of the theater’s operating budget. Staging such an event often means “20 different people doing 20 different things,” Weaver says. “She encourages people to be the best version of themselves.”

Do you know other nonprofits, organizations, or volunteers doing incredible work? Nominate them for our 2019 Light a Fire Awards—submissions are open now!

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