OEN director to step down in 2016

After 16 years of service, the much-loved executive director of the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network will retire.

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Around 10 am this morning, I got a voice mail from Linda Weston, executive director of the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network. “Do you have time for a quick call?  I need to give you a heads up about something.” 

As soon as I heard the message, I knew what she was going to say. 

The much-loved executive director will retire December 2016.

“It’s time,” said Weston, 69.  She recently celebrated her 16th anniversary with OEN and will leave behind a vibrant organization that serves as the state’s premier forum and mentoring organization for entrepreneurs.

A search committee hopes to have a new director on board in Q4 of 2016.

During her tenure with OEN, Weston has seen Portland and Oregon’s startup scene evolve from a fragmented collection of new businesses to a full fledged ecosystem recognized nationwide for its sense of community and collaboration. 

I met Weston four years ago. Over coffee, she alerted me to issues of gender and entrepreneurship that now dominate conversations about how to grow a healthy and vibrant entrepreneurial culture. As a woman helming the state’s signature entrepreneur’s organization, Weston helped pave the way.

Here’s a post I wrote about that first conversation.

What will Weston miss the most?  “The people. They are just fabulous. I love how collaborative our entrepreneurs are.  I love seeing their passion.”

Post-retirement, Weston plans to do some consulting for nonprofits and startups.

I’m not moving to a villa in Italy, she said.  I’m staying involved.

Congratulations, Linda. Your humor, graciousness and vast skill set will be sorely missed.