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April 23, 2020

Traci Rossi, Seasoned Nonprofit Leader Named Executive Director

PORTLAND, Ore. Friends of the Children–Portland announced today that Traci Rossi, experienced community and nonprofit leader, will lead the founding chapter in Portland.

Traci, who was born and raised in Oregon, has over 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience with an emphasis on education, community outreach, and service to girls, women, children and families. Traci was recently named a 2020 Woman of Influence by the Portland Business Journal. She volunteers on local boards in alignment with her personal and professional commitment to youth success and equitable access to services and systems to foster a more equitable Oregon. Traci currently sits on the boards of the Oregon State Bar’s Board of Governors, Kairos PDX, and is a Founding Member of the Women’s Foundation of Oregon Board and an American Leadership Forum Fellow.

Prior to joining the Friends of the Children–Portland team, Traci was the Executive Director of the Center for Women’s Leadership. She previously held leadership positions at Innovative Changes, Greater Than (formerly “I Have a Dream” - Oregon) and Catlin Gabel School.

As Executive Director, Traci will lead the Portland chapter, which is celebrating its 27th year. Friends of the Children–Portland serves over 500 youth and employs 90 staff, 52 of whom are full-time Friends providing one-on-one mentoring to a roster of 8 to 10 youth each. Friends of the Children was started in Portland in 1993 by entrepreneur Duncan Campbell and is now in 22 locations across the country and in the U.K.

Research funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation showed that the presence of a Friend in a child’s life benefits the entire family. Another recent CDC report called out the practice of mentoring as a promising strategy for preventing and lessening the harm from childhood trauma. A third-party evaluation of Friends of the Children program graduates showed that:

  • 92% of graduates go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve our country or enter the workforce
  • 83% of youth obtain a high school diploma or GED
  • 93% remain free from juvenile justice system involvement
  • 98% wait to parent until after their teen years

“I believe that transformational change through long-term mentoring relationships is not only proven, it is an imperative if we are to prepare our youth for the challenges we face as a community. I am excited to be part of a movement that is rapidly expanding and transforming the lives of the highest priority youth in Portland.”

“Traci’s background and enduring commitment to increasing opportunities for youth in our community will ensure our youth continue to gain access to the future they deserve,” said Jenna Mooney, Chair of the Portland Board of Directors. “I look forward to supporting Traci and our entire Friends of the Children team as we strengthen our work on behalf of the next generation of leaders for our community.”

“Building on our successful model of outcomes-based mentoring, I’m committed to deepening Friends of the Children’s relationships with community leaders, philanthropists and corporate leaders to sustain, diversify and grow our impact in Portland,” said Rossi.

A study conducted by the Harvard Alumni Association of Oregon showed that for every $1 invested in Friends program youth, $7 is returned to the community in savings within the public sector and contributions to the private sector. Last year, Friends of the Children-Portland was named the number one Most-Admired Nonprofit in Oregon by the Portland Business Journal for the sixth time in eight years and designated the Charity of the Year by the Better Business Bureau in 2018 for the Northwest & Pacific service region.

“Our staff and the communities we serve are full of grit, hope, perseverance and love. Traci embodies these values in the deeply intentional way she approaches her work. Under her leadership there is no limit to what our staff and the community can build together,” said outgoing Interim Executive Director and incoming Board Chair, Maddie O’Neill Andrews.


Email Kate Sacamano or call 971.340.3419 for media inquiries.