The School of Business collaborates with Portland State’s Queer Resource Center to host an annual networking event for Portland’s LGBTQ community called Open for Business. The mission of this event is to serve and support LGBTQ leaders, professionals and community members through a forum on the social, environmental and economic business solutions central to the Portland community and beyond. We take pride in our inclusive and diverse student body, Portland State University ranked in the top 11 best colleges for queer women.
The theme for this year’s event is inclusive urban growth, addressing the future of housing, development and real estate in Portland. Lukas Robuck, an MBA alum and member of the event planning committee shared how the theme was chosen: “We approach committee meetings through the lens of equity and inclusion, choosing events that are timely and relevant to our community. As a community, we have the ability to set an example for other cities that are also facing pivotal moments in their urban growth. Through this event, we will be ethically addressing gentrification and displacement in urban areas.”
This year’s event will facilitate a greater opportunity for open dialogue by allocating more time for Q&A and networking. Robuck explains that the committee has a unique way of selecting panelists, including professionals from multiple perspectives of the urban development and growth topic. This year’s panelists are Reyna Gillet, cameron whitten and Percy Wise. Our hosts for the evening will be Miles Allen and Gavin D’Avanther.
Reyna Gillet has been an activist and organizer for two decades. She started grassroots organizing around homeless issues while still in high school, and then later moved into labor organizing. Now Reyna works to engage Oregon residents of affordable housing communities to have their voices heard at the legislative level. Working with the Oregon Housing Alliance, a coalition of 90 different organizations who believe every Oregonian should have a safe, stable, affordable place to call home, has been empowering, and they have seen first-hand how organized people can win over organized money. Meeting people with lived experience across the state, has furthered Reyna’s commitment to social justice and fighting for equitable outcomes.When not working, they like to explore Forest Park where the fire lanes intersect and you can get great views of the St. Johns bridge.
cameron whitten is a proud, 28-year-old, queer and black activist who has lived in Portland since 2009. They first arrived in Portland as a homeless youth, and their drive for self and community improvement led them to become a prominent civic entrepreneur, storyteller, and community advocate. They have almost a decade of leadership with nonprofit, civic, and political causes, such as Occupy Portland, Know Your City, and Portland’s Resistance. cameron currently serves as the Executive Director of Q Center and as the Lead Advocate of Brown Hope.
Favorite Portland gem: Personal memories
Percy Wise is an independent residential mortgage broker with Two Rivers Mortgage, LLC where he helps people buy and refinance homes.
He is a graduate of Lewis and Clark Law School and was one of the first transgender attorneys admitted to the Oregon State Bar. He serves on the OSB Diversity Section Executive Committee and is the co-chair and co-founder of the Oregon Trans Law Caucus. He regularly trains attorneys and real estate professionals on concepts of transgender competency, LGBT population demographics, and LGBT and racial wealth and housing disparities.
Favorite Portland gem: The Columbia and Willamette river floating home communities.
Miles Allen is a transgender man with a passion for helping the LGBTQ community in Portland. He has been working with youth in the in various capacities for 10 years. After graduating from University of Oregon with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Political science, Miles went on to become a teacher. He received his MEd from Portland State University in 2010. Miles worked in the Parkrose School District and then move into the non profit world by becoming a Professional Mentor at Friends of the Children Portland. Miles had the privilege of being a mentor to youth experiencing significant barriers to success for 5 years and was then promoted to Program Manager. Miles is now working as an Associate Director of Partnerships at Friends-Portland and is also a second year MBA candidate at Portland State. In his free time; Miles plays with his cats, hikes in the gorge, watches Baseball, and spends time with his friends and family.
Gavin D’Avanther has been with the Livelihood NW (formerly the PSU Business Outreach Program) for 7 years. At Livelihood NW, our mission is to foster business sustainability and growth for historically under-served entrepreneurs within local communities. We provide exceptional business development support services to promote lifelong learning, empowerment, and positive economic impact. Gavin provides one-on-one business support and facilitates various community workshops. Gavin has worked with over 100 small local businesses in a wide range of industries, from food makers to leather workers to tree trimmers, supporting them to grow their business skills and their dreams. “Every Entrepreneur has to continually expand their mental tool box in order to keep growing their businesses.”
Gavin also provides private consulting through her own business, Flying Squirrel Consulting Partners, LLC.
A lifelong Girl Scout, Gavin is a lover of wild things and places, a gardener, a parent of both 2- and 4-legged children, and shows a strong preference for cooking over an open flame.
Robuck is involved in Open for Business because they are an advocate for “helping people reach their dreams.” They first became involved with Open for Business during their time as a graduate student at The School of Business, explaining that they chose The Portland MBA for the diversity of the student body, stating that “the class profile is comprised of more women than any other MBA program in Oregon.” After being enticed by the programs diversity, they were sold on the Certificate in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship.
The Portland MBA led them to start their own business with their partner, a retail plant shop named Stingray Botanicals in Eugene, Oregon opening within the next six to eight months. This shop will provide employment opportuntities for the LGBTQ community with livable wages and usable healthcare benefits with low deductibles. Robuck explained that they grew up in an intolerant region, and in high school plants served as a respite from the negativity around their sexual orientation and gender identity.“I want to share this message and use plants to help others heal.” Join Lukas Robuck, the panelists and the Portland LGBTQ community for Open for Business on Thursday, October 10th.
Interested in getting involved in PSU’s LGBTQ community? Learn about upcoming events and news through PSU’s Queer Resource Center.
Follow Stingray Botanicals on Instagram at @stingraybotanicals.