My second act


Nice way to welcome the new adjunct instructor.

Who would have imagined at this point in my career that I would undergo not one but two orientations as a new employee?

Few people, I’m sure. But, then, sometimes things just fall into place better than one can imagine.

Yes, I’m back at work again. Nine months after leaving The Oregonian/OregonLive as part of a buyout offer extended to senior employees, I’ve been hired to teach in a college classroom and work for a educational nonprofit. The two jobs allow me to draw on my journalism experiences in pursuit of twin interests in education and career development.

I’ve enjoyed the time off I’ve had since Jan. 1 to relax and recharge, to sample the early-retiree lifestyle of regular exercise, lots of reading and writing, and a steady diet of coffees, breakfasts and happy hours with assorted friends. There’s even been some travel to new places.

But all the while I’ve kept open the possibility of returning to work if the right opportunities were to come along. I’m happy — no, delighted — to say that’s the case.

Last week, I started a part-time job as communications coordinator at Portland Workforce Alliance, a small but influential organization that works with employers, teachers and students to expand career and technical education opportunities for high school students.

pwa_logo_home2Along with a board of directors and hundreds of volunteers, the staff helps to arrange career days, job site visits, mock interviews, internships and more, all with an aim of exposing students to the world of work and what it takes to break in and sustain a career, whether it’s in the trades or as a professional as an architect, graphic designer or software engineer.

I love that the organization makes an extra effort to reach kids at public schools where diversity and poverty rates are higher, where students are most likely to be first in their family to attend college.

I’m working with three other full-time employees, led by executive director Kevin Jeans Gail, a former neighbor and all-around good guy who was instrumental in founding the nonprofit in 2005. I’m also working again with Susan Nielsen, a marvelously talented former colleague who was an editorial writer at The Oregonian when I was the Sunday Opinion Editor.

portland-state-university_416x416This week I also started as an adjunct instructor in the Communications Department at Portland State University. I’m teaching Media Ethics this fall and Media Literacy next winter. Both are lecture/discussion courses looking at the spectrum of mass media — journalism, public relations and advertising — rather than hands-on journalism.

Yesterday was my first class and it went very well. I’ve got a diverse group of about 30 communications majors, nearly all of them juniors or seniors. Many are in their mid-20s and many are working and/or raising a family. I’m confident we’re going to learn a lot together.

(Click on images to view captions.)

I’ve previously worked with young adults in the classroom. Twice before I’ve taught weekend courses at Portland State. Years earlier, I was a guest faculty member at summer training programs at UC Berkeley and the University of Arizona that helped prepare people of color for entry-level journalism jobs. Along the way, I also worked as as an editor on student newspaper projects at national conventions of minority journalists.

Some people might think I’m crazy to give up the leisurely schedule I’ve enjoyed these last few months. But I’m excited and invigorated by the twin opportunities that have come my way. (A big shout-out here to Professor Cynthia-Lou Coleman, who hired initially me to teach at PSU and encouraged me to apply again as an adjunct.)

My hours vary during the week, but my Fridays  are free — and I’m already looking forward to an additional teaching gig during the spring semester at Washington State University’s Vancouver campus.

Am I a lucky man? Damn right.


13 thoughts on “My second act

  1. ZiZi told me the exciting news last week! I think it is absolutely marvelous. Can’t wait to hear more about it. I love that you’re going to be teaching at Portland State; it was my alma mater and I continue to love it!

  2. Hey George, you know the saying “You make your own luck!” I’m also a graduate of PSU and am grateful for my experience there. I dropped out of college to be a travel agent and returned to college at age 30. It was the perfect place for me to gain the confidence I had lacked early on to finish college and get my degree.

  3. George, as always, I am in awe of your willingness to pursue new adventures. Your enthusiasm and enjoyment of your work and for your co-workers and your students makes for a wonderful environment for all. And just wait until they hear your poker table jokes.

    • As always, I appreciate your support. I hope to leave the students better, not worse, for taking my class. For my own sake, I’ll spare them the jokes. Don’t want to have to incur legal fees. 🙂

  4. Just stopped. by to say hi and wish you well on new adventure! I visited your dad and aunt Ora 2 weeks ago to pick-up his old bike and some NM chili. Had a great time. Retired 5 years at end of this December and still loving it being near 3 grandsons. Cousin Luis H

    • Great to hear from you, Luis! I was semi-retired for 8 months before jumping back into the fray. Nice to have the brain fully engaged again. Love my two part-time gigs.

      Other big news is that 2 months ago, Lori and I became grandparents. Our youngest son, Jordan, and his wife have a daughter.

  5. Lucky students!

    Congratulations George. Both institutions are lucky to have you.

    I’m excited for you and all the good that will come as a result of the work you do and people who get to meet you in these two capacities.


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