Which heroes came forward when we shined our “MAF signal” into the sky, calling out to citizens who make Portland a better place to live with each selfless action they take?   Read on to find out!

Kali Thorne Ladd

also is motivated by “Advocating and bringing a voice to people who don’t have a voice.” As executive director for KairosPDX, it’s her professional mission to help level the educational playing field, increasing equity and access for underserved communities.

“I feel like what I do is bring their voices to the table,” she says. Evidently, this drive has resonated with her fellow MAC members. Her nominations mention not only her leadership at KairosPDX, but also her service on the board at Portland Community College, her policy work at the Oregon Department of Education, and her design and implementation of programs while working for the mayor’s office.

For Ladd, it’s all part and parcel of a fundamental belief that “education is key,” and that it can be “a game changer, altering a person’s whole trajectory in life.” Still, Ladd is sheepish around awards, and quick to redistribute praise to those around her. “It’s not me alone. I’m part of systems and communities. I am adding value, though.”

If this sounds like an understatement, consider the words of one of her nominators: “All of this work she has done consistently includes the theme of equity and inclusion. These are terms that are bantered about in many a public presentation or speech, but to Kali these are action words … Her work directly applies to all she does.”

Or, as Ladd herself says, “If Portland’s going to be the community we want it to be, we need to educate all.”

Story by Jake Ten Pas