Please help us welcome Gina Valencia as Habitat for Humanity of Oregon’s first-ever IDA Network Program Manager. In this role, Gina will support Habitat Oregon’s transition into becoming a Fiduciary Organization of the Oregon IDA Initiative. She will help expand Habitat Oregon’s oversight and management of local Habitat affiliates’ IDA programs and serve as the program lead for this body of work.
Tell us a little about yourself:
Gina Valencia (she/her) enjoys spending time with people and getting to know others. Gina is originally from Ecuador and moved to the U.S. in the early 2000s. She has a Masters of Public Administration from Idaho State University and has focused her energy in the nonprofit sector. She appreciates new learning opportunities.
Prior to joining the Habitat for Humanity of Oregon team, Gina managed programs that empowered individuals to reach educational and financial goals. She is fond of her experience volunteering and working for a rural Habitat affiliate in Wyoming. Most recently, Gina worked for Portland Community College’s Office of Planning & Capital Construction managing outreach and communications.
She lives in southeast Portland with her husband and two artistic kids. She is open to connecting with others and likes to share her love for Latin America.
What is your favorite to see or do in Oregon?
My favorite things to observe in Oregon are the constantly changing flora and rich wildlife. I find the great diversity of plants throughout urban and rural Oregon magical. I understand how some people feel moved by water masses and mountains in the northwest; however, to me, the growth and transformation of plants and trees are the best of Oregon. I also get to practice my wildlife watching in the different Oregon environments, even in urban settings. Whales, elk, coyotes, rodents and birds make this state a delight.
What is a recent book, podcast or movie/TV show that you would recommend to others?
I just finished the book “Dispara, yo ya estoy muerto” by Spanish writer Julia Navarro. I recommend this fiction story because it provides a great deal of historical context on Israel, Europe and Russia from the mid-1800s through the mid-1900s. This book helped me understand the complexity of the struggles faced by the communities who are still present in this area. This book is one of those where the reader could fall in love with characters and be moved by their joys and tribulations.
What does home mean to you?
Growing up we played a game of tag that always had a “safe place” (known in Spanish as “la paz”) where you can go and hang out knowing that no one can tag you there. That feeling of security and ability to recharge is what home means to me. I am privileged to have always had a place to call home. My confidence and ability to contribute to the different communities I have lived in have been given a boost by the security of having a place to call home.
What are you looking forward to most about this position?
I have helped people build and buy their first home. No experience in my life has felt more rewarding that turning over the keys to a new homeowner.
At Habitat for Humanity of Oregon, I look forward to being part of the network of those who support hardworking families and individuals to secure their shelter. Homeownership is a team’s task. Through the IDA network, I will work alongside state partners, Oregon Habitat affiliates and community-minded individuals. I am ready to start and develop those relationships and become inspired by them as we work together to address the need for housing.