Karen Shawcross, executive director of Bienestar from 2007 through 2014, has returned as interim executive director following the retirement of Ann Blaker at the end of December 2016. Karen’s deep knowledge of Bienestar’s mission, vision and goals and experience in their execution will help assure a smooth transition to a permanent executive director in the future, as the Bienestar Board of Directors launches a search.
Karen’s previous experience spans both the nonprofit and private sectors. She was Director of Business and Industry at Worksystems, Inc., in Portland before coming to Bienestar in 2007. Prior to Worksystems, Karen was a Senior Vice President at Bank of America, where she developed and directed two national initiatives for low-income youth and adults. Before joining Bank of America, Karen worked in multifamily property management and development for private owners with portfolios along the East Coast.
She was involved in the development and marketing of a new construction multifamily rental property in Boston and a condominium project in Connecticut. Since leaving Bienestar in 2015, she has joined the Board of Directors at Audubon Society of Portland, and become a lay minister at First Church Unitarian in Portland. She continued her passion for poverty alleviation by working with Welcome Home, OHCS’ Agricultural Workforce Housing Team, and Washington County Thrives.
As Bienestar works to expand its affordable housing and services to new populations such as the upcoming Cornelius Place project, it will be an asset to have Karen’s strong skills in establishing and sustaining relationships with key government agencies and elected officials, as well as community agencies and businesses. Her demonstrated ability to build partnerships in the community to achieve organizational goals will be invaluable.
While welcoming Karen back, Bienestar also thanks Ann Blaker for her time serving the Bienestar mission of building housing, hope and futures for the well-being of working families and seniors. Her accomplishments include development of the current strategic five-year plan, revitalization of the Board of Directors, allocation of tax credits for Cornelius Place, and strengthened engagement of Bienestar clientele in the mission and delivery of resident services.