Downtime with Mychal Cherry

Downtime with Mychal Cherry Jason E. Kaplan

The executive director of the Spirit Mountain Community Fund in her less-busy moments


What I am reading
I love to read and usually have at least three books on my nightstand at one time. Right now I’m reading Hearts of Fire by the Voice of the Martyrs. It’s about eight true, heartbreaking and inspirational stories of very courageous women around the world.

Must-have gadget
My IPhone. We have a grandson who turned 2 on April 1. Needless to say, we have hundreds of videos and photos of him, and with another grandchild on the way, that will only double.

What I am watching
We have two boys at home, so we watch a lot of movies, most recently Shazam! and Bumblebee. With reclining seats in theaters now, I’m more willing to go, but I prefer plays when we have the time. My sister and I recently went to see “Wolf Play” by Hansol Jung at the Artists Repertory Theatre. It is based on a true story about a young Korean boy who was “rehomed” after his adoptive family had a child of their own, and how he adjusts to life by pretending he’s a wolf. We laughed, we cried; it was very moving.

No place like…
We have five kids, one grandson and a grandchild on the way; I usually won’t venture far from them. But our new favorite place is Kauai, Hawaii. We’d love it if all the kids would move there with us when it’s time to retire.

519 downtime MCherryMychal Cherry photographs tree blossoms near the Capitol. Photo by Jason E. Kaplan

Growing up
My sisters and I grew up in rural Oregon on our homelands in Grand Ronde as tribal members of one of nine tribes that regained federal-recognition status in the ’80s. Growing up and trying to rebuild your cultural identity was very challenging. Looking back, I cherish those memories of visiting with elders for hours on end, listening to them speak our Chinuk Wawa language, picking berries and playing softball.

Family tradition
We love Christmas. We watch the same Christmas movies over and over for weeks leading up to it. We have a large family with more than 35 grandkids between my siblings and I, so it’s a very festive gathering.

When I am not working
I started painting a few years ago and find it very therapeutic. I have also been a runner since my high school days. I ran cross-country for years, and that’s my time to refuel. My husband and I also own a photography business, and we talk about getting into nature photography, but with five kids and a grandson, we stay pretty busy.

Business role model
I’m constantly reminded of people in our tribe who have influenced me in positive ways. There are so many resilient women in our tribe whom I am so grateful for and whom I admire and respect, not only for their courage but also for daily examples they set in their leadership roles.

What motivates me to come to work every day
We’re truly making a difference in the communities we serve by partnering with some pretty awesome nonprofits in Northwest Oregon. My team members come to work enthusiastic and passionate about the work we have before us. When you see the impact you’re having, it makes your life feel very purposeful.


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Kim Moore

Kim Moore is the editor for Oregon Business magazine.

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