New Board Member for Journalistic Learning Initiative

Portland-based Umpqua Bank Executive Berk Nelson Joins the Team

Berk Nelson

Oct. 1, 2019 (Eugene, Ore.) – Journalistic Learning Initiative, a nine-year-old nonprofit empowering students to find their voice through storytelling, welcomes new board member Berk Nelson, JD. Nelson is government director for Umpqua Bank, where he is charged with building strategic partnerships in communities where Umpqua has a presence. Prior to Umpqua Bank, Nelson was senior advisor for Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler on livability, cannabis regulation reform, and police accountability issues. He also did contract work in the commercial litigation department at Perkins Coie, was in-house counsel for Molina Healthcare, and practiced civil litigation and criminal defense law for nine years in Los Angeles.

“Berk’s extensive experience and connections within the high-opportunity communities in which the Journalistic Learning Initiative (JLI) currently provide services in Portland and central California make him a natural fit for our board,” said JLI Executive Director Ed Madison. “His expertise in building coalitions along with his legal background in Los Angeles are an added benefit as we move to expand our services, and we are thrilled to add him to our team.”

Founded in 2010, in collaboration with the University of Oregon School of Journalism and College of Education, the JLI empowers students to discover their voice, improve academic outcomes, and engage in self-directed learning through project-based story telling. Students learn to research, interview, write, edit, and collaborate, making them more effective communicators.

“We work with middle and high school English, Social Studies, Health, and Science teachers to instill students with the critical thinking and life skills they need to prepare themselves for college and careers,” said Madison. “Our standards-aligned, evidence-based program is particularly focused on students in historically under-served and rural communities to increase student belonging, improve student attendance, and close the achievement gap to improve statewide graduation rates.”

Since its inception, JLI has helped more than 900 young people in Oregon and California succeed.

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