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Nonprofit wants Heather Rhoade to create awareness, raise money

In the six weeks since she was hired as development coordinator for the Forest Grove Education Foundation, Heather Rhoade has beefed up its Facebook page, begun a monthly newsletter, sifted through options for grant money and shown up at community events to raise awareness about the 15-year-old nonprofit.

The Forest Grove resident, whose daughter attends Dilley Elementary School, has also signed up the foundation for the Fred Meyer Community Rewards Program, which donates a percentage of sales back to schools.

“I’m still getting a feel for the job,” Rhoade said Monday of her new position. “I’m collaborating with the board [to get] our name and mission out there and [to form] more community partnerships.”

Rhoade replaces Dawn Smith, the FGEF’s first paid development coordinator, who resigned in April. The foundation’s mission is to “assist in providing a quality education for every student in the Forest Grove School District” through grants for pupils and teachers and scholarships for students, according to Julie Miller Ungar, chairwoman of the board.

Rhoade holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis on public relations.

In June 2013, FGEF distributed $19,300 in scholarships and grants. The board created the development coordinator position last year to focus primarily on community outreach to children and families in the district, noted Miller Ungar, a Forest Grove resident who has a student at Neil Armstrong Middle School and a student at Gaston High School.

Board members were “really sad” to lose Smith, Miller Ungar added. “She was very dynamic. We were building some good momentum — but I think things didn’t happen as quickly as [Smith] would have liked.”

After re-advertising the position, “We found Heather,” said Miller Ungar. “I can’t say enough good things about her. She’s a perfect fit — we’re just thrilled.”

One of Smith’s ideas was the launch of a Summer Art and Music Festival, which had originally been scheduled for June 21. The fundraiser fell victim to the staff change-up.

“That was Dawn’s baby,” said Miller Ungar, who traded hats with former board chair Quinn Johnson in January. “When she stepped down, the festival just came to a halt.”

The event is on hold for now, but “we’d like to see it happen in the future,” Miller Ungar said. “We hope it will become a tradition.”

Meanwhile, Rhoade said she would continue to form connections with individuals, organizations and businesses on the nonprofit’s behalf. “I would love to see the foundation out more in the public eye,” she said.

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