Top 3 best large nonprofits

1010_NonprofitIntro2Our second annual ranking of the 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon celebrates what it means to be a great place to work.  Read about the top three large organizations, with more than 75 employees worldwide.

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Our second annual ranking of the 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon celebrates what it means to be a great place to work.  Read about the top three large organizations, with more than 75 employees worldwide.

No. 1 Best Large Nonprofit

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

For the second year, the Oregon and SW Washington affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure has been ranked as the No. 1 Best Large Nonprofit to Work For in Oregon. The signs of their success point to the management style of executive director Christine McDonald. She uses the strengths of her 13 employees to build a team, says development manager Cristina Moore. Like puzzle pieces, the employees at Susan G. Komen fit together to form a life-saving team.

Donations to the organization, which works to find a cure for breast cancer, are up 89% since 2004, and employees are inspired to reach for more. Professional development opportunities are within their grasps; several of the employees at the Portland office began as administrative assistants and were promoted to other positions based on their interests. Health, vision, dental, and extra vacation time around the holidays are among the other perks that come with being a member of the Komen family.

The employees are dedicated to the mission of spreading breast cancer awareness and ensuring patients get the care they need. Recently, they gave up a weekend to move into a new office. “This is my social and professional life,” says communications coordinator Devon Downeysmith. The employees remember the people they serve on a daily basis. The hard work is “purpose driven,” says finance controller Sara McKean.

McDonald has forged her team in a fast-paced environment, and daily coffee runs supply the staff with enough energy to finish her  “organized sprint.” Yet she has managed to maintain a culture of openness and respect despite the frenzied pace.

make-a-wish foundation Oregon
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oregon, the No. 2 Best Large Nonprofit to Work For in Oregon, recently granted the wish of Cooper Albright of Tigard to be a construction worker for a day. Cooper got to drive an excavator with assistance from JR Hendershott, an employee of Papé Machinery.
Oregon Make-a-wish foundation
Lizzie Carraro at the Make-A-Wish Foundation surrounded by toys that help fulfill the wishes of children with severe illnesses.
Cooper Albright gets his wish along with his brother, Max, right, at Papé Machinery in Portland. // PHOTOS BY JUSTIN TUNIS

No. 2 Best Large Nonprofit







Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oregon

Magic fuels the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oregon, which explains the crown and wand displayed at every desk.

The mission is simple, says communications manager Kelly O’Malley-McKee: “All we do is grant wishes.” Granting 180 wishes a year to children with severe medical conditions requires a lot of coordination and teamwork though, and when the magic loses focus executive director Andrew Asato is there to help. “[He] is our anchor,” O’Malley-McKee says.

“[Asato] is the best communicator I’ve ever met,” says wish coordinator Samantha Piwonka. The mission and the staff are the top two reasons the employees love working at the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but Piwonka’s amazing parking spot is third on her list. Sometimes the small benefits outweigh the big ones.

The flexible work environment at this Portland nonprofit allows the employees to balance their personal and professional lives. “We have to be happy outside of work to be happy inside of work,” says corporate alliances manager Carynne Drake. When the staff isn’t granting wishes, they are enjoying each other’s company. The 14 Oregon employees eat lunch together every day.

This is the second year that the Make-A-Wish Foundation has made the 100 Best list. Perhaps because many of the employees are looking forward to their three-week sabbatical, which they receive after five years.

The employees realize their work environment is unique, where talk of storm troopers, fairies and pirates is not uncommon.

No. 3 Best Large Nonprofit

Mary’s Woods at Marylhurst

This Lake Oswego retirement community nurtures both the residents and employees.
The employees of Mary’s Woods at Marylhurst are thrilled with the benefits they receive, which include comprehensive health insurance and a retirement plan. “I feel like I’m in a union,” says maintenance worker Mike Rogers. The benefits are excellent, but the staff loves its work because of the family environment. This is Mary’s Woods second year as a 100 Best Nonprofit.

Executive director Edward Mawe addresses by name all the 224 employees he sees. “Management is truly concerned about the staff,” says director of marketing Cheri Mussotto-Conyers. The employees use the same gym and swimming pool as the 450 residents, and a massage therapist and acupuncturist are available at a discounted rate. A tuition assistance program encourages employees to pursue higher education, a benefit that’s difficult to pass up with Marylhurst University next door.

The staff also support each other. Many employees contribute to an emergency assistance fund, which assists co-workers who are struggling financially. They also hosted a biggest-loser contest and rewarded the employee who lost the most weight with $800.

Mawe strives to keep the lines of communication open. “It empowers you,” says executive assistant Sophi Gwynne.

From the bottom to the top, everyone at Mary’s Woods gets the credit they deserve. The “unsung hero” needs recognition, says director of human resources Linell Nevius, the people who work hard behind the scenes, but who rarely find themselves in the spotlight.