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!

Nadya Okamoto

Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard during his sophomore year and the rest, as they say, is history. Nadya Okamoto is currently in her sophomore year at Harvard, and she’s working hard to make “her-story.” Her passion project might not be the cash cow that Facebook is, but if she’s successful, it will make the world a better, more connected place.

That project is PERIOD, a global organization providing and celebrating menstrual hygiene through advocacy, education and service. Since its founding in 2014, the nonprofit has addressed nearly 110,000 periods, registered more than 100 campus chapters, and opened offices in Portland and Boston. She even was invited to give a TEDx Talk on the subject!
Okamoto also is the co-founder of E Pluribus, a post-partisan media platform that engages young people in discussions around issues that are important to them, pushing them to take action. Of her Everyday Hero award, Okamoto says: “It’s a meaningful way to step back from all my work and say, ‘Maybe I am making a difference. I do this work because I believe in the advocacy of it.”

Her heroes include “fighters for reproductive freedom” such as Wendy Davis, she says, but her biggest inspiration is her mother, who sacrificed, worked multiple jobs, and helped her family to heal while they were homeless during Okamoto’s high-school years. That experience, and her lack of access to basic domestic necessities inspired her to start a charity to help others who might similarly be struggling with fundamental needs.

Story by Jake Ten Pas