2023 Annual Report

Bridging the Gap: 2023 Annual Report


Bridging the Gap: WP's 2023 Annual ReportOne of the most rewarding things about life at Willamette Partnership is that we do our work by helping other people with theirs. Our mission is to help people and nature thrive together, but we get there by helping communities design and implement their own solutions. 

With 26 years of this work under our belts, we’ve found that, while every community is unique, we all face similar challenges – gaps in policies, financial systems, institutions, networks, and systems that were built for a top-down, siloed approach to problem-solving. Willamette Partnership works to bridge those gaps, providing technical assistance that helps communities find their own unique pathway from a shared idea to collaborative implementation.

The more we do this work, the more we learn about the skills and strengths the WP team needs to bring to support our community partners. This year, we added five new members to our close-knit team, all of whom bring incredible expertise and lived experience that makes our work stronger, more effective, and more responsive. 

Together, we’re continually learning how to structure and deliver our work in a way that meets the challenges of the moment. For example, WP started exploring how to integrate a community health equity lens into our environmental work back in 2013 and we built it into a standalone partnership and program of work with the Oregon Health & Outdoors Initiative. Over time, we learned to bring a strong health equity lens to all of our work, from water infrastructure to green schoolyards.

This year, with the launch of the Northwest Environmental Justice Center, we’re officially retiring the Oregon Health & Outdoors Initiative name. The new Environmental Justice Center is being built upon the foundation of WP’s community-centered approach to technical assistance. The platform, funding, and partnerships the Center brings will enable us to support more communities than ever before in finding solutions that work for people and the places they live, work, play, and pray.

Thank you friends for another amazing year,

Sara O’Brien, Executive Director
Teresa Jacobs, Board President

Check out the 2023 Annual Report: Bridging the Gap

In her role as Executive Director, Sara O'Brien, is Willamette Partnership’s chief strategist, lead conductor, and biggest fan. Under her leadership, Willamette Partnership is helping to build a future in which people build resilient ecosystems, healthy communities, and vibrant economies by investing in nature. Most recently, Sara was Willamette Partnership's Director of Strategy and Business, helping to refine its business strategy and identify opportunities for growth. She previously worked at Defenders of Wildlife, the University of Arizona's Institute of the Environment, and the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia. Sara holds a B.A. in anthropology and linguistics from Grinnell College and an M.S. in natural resource management from the University of Arizona. In her spare time, she enjoys relaxing with projects such as managing a farm, building a straw bale house, and raising children.


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