Last fall, Lane Workforce Partnership, in collaboration with Southwestern Oregon Workforce Investment Board, Northwest Oregon Works, Oregon Coast Visitors Association, and the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) announced their successful joint application for a Department of Labor Critical Jobs Sector Planning Grant was awarded. ORLA has hired a new Coastal Sector Strategist for this important work, and Rebecca Donley will be working full time for ORLA and the Oregon Hospitality Foundation through the duration of this grant award.
Rebecca comes from the hospitality industry and is very passionate about our mission to address the workforce needs of Oregon's restaurant and lodging industry. We asked her to share a little bit about herself:
While embarking on my professional journey, I unexpectedly found my passion in the unlikeliest of places – the front desk of a local hotel. What began as a pragmatic decision to balance work and full-time schooling turned into a transformative experience, unveiling a vibrant world where each guest interaction shaped my understanding of hospitality. In fact, after I graduated, I left the hotel to work for a design firm, only to discover that my heart truly belonged to the hospitality industry. I came right back to the hotel and passionately embraced learning whatever I could. Leadership roles became my platform for contributing to this amazing industry.
Navigating roles in Housekeeping, Banquets, Event Planning, Food & Beverage, and Spa Management, I not only honed my skills but orchestrated notable achievements that elevated the guest experience. From implementing streamlined processes to spearheading successful projects, these experiences became pivotal moments in developing my diverse background. This journey, marked both by proud moments and humbling opportunities to learn, has given me a unique understanding of the challenges and opportunities present here on the Oregon coast.
After the disruptive shockwave of Covid swept through our industry, it left a profound impact on me and the teams under my management. The deep sense of responsibility I felt towards my people was coupled with a feeling of helplessness in the face of this unprecedented disaster. It was during these challenging times that I resolved to leverage my experiences and expertise not only to enhance the experiences of our guests but also to support the individuals working tirelessly behind the scenes.
In response to the crisis, I actively sought out ways to contribute and make a meaningful difference in the lives of those affected. This period of reflection reinforced my belief in the transformative power of the hospitality industry and the importance of fostering resilience.
Ultimately, it became clear to me that my skills and leadership could be a catalyst for positive change, not only within the walls of the hotel but also in the broader community. This realization fueled my eagerness to transition into a role where I could have a lasting impact. In my quest for this meaningful role in the non-profit sector, the posting for the Oregon Coast Hospitality Sector Strategist appeared like a beacon. It wasn’t just a job opportunity; it was a calling that resonated with my values and aspirations.
Joining ORLA as the Oregon Coast Hospitality Sector Strategist is not just a career move, it’s a pivotal moment where my passion converges with an opportunity to shape the very industry that defines my professional calling. The prospect of actively shaping the hospitality landscape and fostering meaningful connections aligns seamlessly with my true professional purpose.
Beyond my professional endeavors, my love for travel, DIY projects, and tending to my backyard farm enriches my life. Restoring my 1951 home is a personal project that mirrors my appreciation for preserving history while embracing modern hospitality trends. These moments of inspiration and recharging not only contribute to my personal growth but also influence my approach to hospitality.
This new chapter embodies a holistic alignment of values, education, and an unwavering passion for hospitality. As I step into my role at ORLA, I bring with me a track record of achievements, a commitment to continuous learning, and a belief in the power of collaboration. Together, let’s not just navigate the challenges but proactively shape the future of hospitality. I look forward to the exciting journey ahead and welcome the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded individuals who share our vision for a vibrant and transformative industry. – Rebecca
Want to learn more about the Critical Jobs Sector Planning Grant or the work Rebecca Donely is embarking on? Contact her via email or at 714.483.6542.
Oregon’s second largest private sector industry has thousands of jobs available for interested applicants and we anticipate similar workforce trends to be commonplace for our industry and many others for years to come.
The Oregon Hospitality Foundation (OHF) is laser focused on workforce development initiatives to do what we can to build bridges between hospitality industry employers and workers seeking employment opportunities. Currently the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association has two full time employees devoted to this work. This new workforce blog will be a joint effort to keep lines of communication open with all industry operators interested in connecting with future employees for their operations.
I want take a moment to thank Courtney Smith and Lupe Arellano on our professional staff for their work to highlight our ProStart Culinary and Management curriculum in high schools, job and career fairs organized by partner organizations, speaking opportunities for ORLA members in high schools, and amplifying leadership vacancies as they occur amongst Oregon’s 9 regional workforce development boards.
This is our moment as an industry to rise to the occasion and provide more leadership to showcase the vast opportunities available right now in Oregon’s hospitality industry. We hope our new workforce blog connects you with meaningful intelligence and insights that help you navigate our number one challenge in business – demand outpacing labor supply. For additional updates on the Oregon Hospitality Foundation and Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, follow the ORLA Update Blog.
Cheers to you and your success in Oregon’s hospitality industry.
President & CEO, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
Oregon Hospitality Foundation Workforce Blog
The Oregon Hospitality Foundation’s new workforce liaison role is focused on building relational capital between educators, workforce programs/boards, and ORLA members. We are hopeful these relationship building efforts will assist us in reducing the current workforce demands facing hospitality employers.
So far, the newly launched position has assisted ORLA and the Hospitality Foundation in building relationships with the following stakeholders:
We had four members (The Nines, Kimpton, McMenamins, Elephants Delicatessen) participate at the Portland Youth Opportunity Fair hosted by WorkSystems. The job fair is targeted for 16 to 24 years old’s but open to all. We provided free food handler card training vouchers to youth participating in the event. In addition, we have a new partnership with the Portland Workforce Alliance, which held their 19th annual career fair recently. With over 5,000 students and 75 schools present, the event was a good connector for hospitality employers looking for prospect employees.
In late 2022, we connected our members to four speaking engagements, three of them in high schools and one to the University of Oregon. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort went to speak at Winter Lake High School and North Bend High School. Zach Poole with Pig ‘N Pancake went to Seaside High School. Colby Phillips with Beergarden spoke with a business management class at the University of Oregon. In January there were three more speaking engagements for our members to participate in, two on the coast and one in Benton County.
Workforce Development Boards
The hospitality industry is currently a represented sector with two workforce regions (NW Oregon Works and Lane Workforce Partnership). In addition, we are working on partnerships with three other regions and their respective workforce boards (WorkSystems, Clackamas Workforce Partnership, Willamette Workforce Partnership). More to come as we work to make sure an industry voice exists at board tables for all 9 regional workforce boards.
Learn more about OHF's workforce efforts and resources available to industry members at OregonRLA.org/workforce.
Posted by: Lupe Arellano, Workforce Development / Business Liaison, Oregon Hospitality Foundation
The Oregon Hospitality Foundation (OHF) team includes Courtney Smith, ProStart Manager, Ella Sturdevant, Workforce Development Coordinator, and Jason Brandt, President & CEO (ORLA) / Foundation Board Member.