Heather Blackbird

General Manager, Arts People

Heather has a BA in Film from The Evergreen State College and a MA in Rhetoric and Composition Studies from Portland State University. Before starting Arts People and building a business she was a teacher, and a director of a homelss shelter. She loves to figure out ways to empower teams to have fun working together toward common goals and finding ways to laugh along the way. She started Arts People in 2006 with her business partner and joined with Neon One in 2019.

What is your most memorable nonprofit experience?

Working in a homeless shelter for men and women in downtown Portland, Oregon, I learned from people living on the streets about how their needs that can be addressed with funding and compassionate people. I saw each day the fundamental power of a safe, clean place to sleep. I experienced the victories and defeats of working to fund a nonprofit – balancing the requirements of grants, city funding, individual and organizational donors, the needs of the staff, volunteers, and mission. Every day finding the daily inspiration you need to keep your head up, stay sane, and keep going. It takes guts. I have a deep respect for each and every nonprofit team.

What causes are you most passionate about?

Immigration rights, equality, prison reform, poverty.

What do you do to recharge?

Laugh. I love to get together with my family and friends and laugh and speculate about the meaning of life. I love making collages, and watching movies and riding my bike!

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