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Stephanie's Bio & Beliefs

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About Stephanie D. Stephens

Community Leader. Parent.
Public Education Advocate.
Solution Seeker.
Consensus Builder.
Change Maker.


Stephanie knows how to build inclusive, community-centered education policy. As the co-founder of a statewide social justice nonprofit, she’s spent nearly two decades bringing people together around challenging issues. She encourages diverse voices and points of view and works to build consensus toward positive change. Stephanie's a champion for children, families, schools, and neighborhoods. Through her work as a grant writer, she has raised millions of dollars for innovative, results-oriented programming.

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Stephanie's Beliefs

As a governing body, the ultimate goal of the school board is success for every student.

High standards and expectations for our students produce excellence.

All students deserve the resources and support they need to reach their full academic potential.

The responsibility for student success is shared—students, parents, teachers, administrators, community leaders, neighborhoods, civic organizations, and religious institutions all play a vital role.

We must be able to work collaboratively across differences to ensure all students succeed.

Public education is the cornerstone of our democracy; schools should provide our youth with a sense of civic duty, compassion toward others, and the knowledge and skills necessary for success in the 21st century.

As taxpayers, we have the right to demand value and results for the investment we make in our kids.

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Biography

As the daughter of a public school teacher and the Mom of twin first graders, Stephanie understands the importance of a quality education and strong neighborhood schools. She knows that great schools are possible when the entire community focuses on student success. For nearly two decades, Stephanie has worked in nonprofit and public sector environments, bringing people together around seemingly intractable issues and fashioning collaborative solutions.

She is the co-founder of Unite Oregon (formerly Center for Intercultural Organizing), a statewide nonprofit comprised of members in both rural and urban/suburban communities. Unite Oregon creates programs, public policy initiatives, and strategies aimed at uplifting all struggling populations. As Unite Oregon’s Organizational Development Director, Stephanie has helped design and implement groundbreaking new projects—from a robust, intercultural parent engagement program in Portland Public Schools to a statewide campaign to end profiling, which includes both community members impacted by profiling and law enforcement agencies.

Her previous work includes public sector management experience at Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, where she ran the Vision into Action program. During her tenure, her team of staff and dozens of community volunteers won the 2009 national American Planning Association (APA) Award for Public Outreach.

Prior to working at the City, Stephanie spent several years as Development and Communications Manager for Western States Center, a regional organization working in eight Western states to develop the capacity of informed communities to participate in the public policy process. Prior to her work at Western States Center, she served as the Communications Manager of the City Club of Portland, where she spearheaded efforts to diversify public involvement in civic affairs.

Stephanie earned a B.A. from the Evergreen State College and studied Public Administration at Portland State University (PSU). She has been a facilitator and trainer for leadership development programs across Portland and a community partner in PSU's Senior Capstone program. She and her husband Kayse Jama are proud parents of six-year-old Sahan and Saharla, who attend Menlo Park Elementary in the David Douglas School District.

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