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Nov 09, 2015

Board of Directors Member Spotlight – Hirdesh Lal

We welcomed Hirdesh Lal onto the Janus Board of Directors just over a year ago. He is the Director of Financial Planning and Analysis at Kaiser Permanente and currently serves on the Board Fiscal Committee. We appreciate the time he took to answer our questions for this quarter’s Board Member Spotlight.

Please give us a brief overview of your professional background.

I am a Financial Planning professional and Certified Public Accountant (Inactive). In this capacity, I am able to serve and aid individuals and corporations to become financially independent, sustainable, and viable in long run. We partner with clients in decision making process to convert business ideas from dream to reality. I started my career with a CPA firm. Currently I work for Kaiser Permanente as Director of Financial Planning and Analysis.

Are you a native Oregonian? If not, what brought you to the Northwest?

I was born and raised in the Fiji Islands and moved to Portland with my parents about 30 years ago. My mother was the primary driver of this move to US. She wanted to be closer to her family while demanding her children have ambitious careers rather than a laid back Fijian life style. She was the first individual in her very large family to have kids graduate from college – all four of them.

Why do you feel it’s important to invest in your community?

It is critical to invest in the community, especially when it comes to vulnerable kids. They will be the future community. Our ability to intervene today will help change, craft and shape the future that you want to see.

Are you involved with any other organizations other than Janus?

I actively participate in Big Brothers Big Sisters programs which also work with children. I have worked with two little brothers who are incredible and have unique abilities to make a difference in this community when they grow up. In addition, I am an active Advisory Board member of PSU Business School. As the first person in our entire family to earn a college degree, I have found that obtaining college level education is foundational to a successful, happy and independent future. Therefore, I am passionate about my participation in academia to help make college opportunities available for every potential individual.

What originally inspired you to join the Janus board?

The mission of Janus Youth Programs and my mentor, Karen Schartman, CFO, Kaiser Permanente, inspired me to join the organization to advance its mission of protecting children and helping them realize their full potential in our community.

What do you hope to accomplish by serving as a Janus board member?

I hope to harness my passion and professional experience to make Janus Youth Programs a sustainable, efficient organization that continues to make a difference in the lives of our vulnerable population. In addition, I have an interest in fostering good health and healthy living and finding paths to sustain the Village Gardens program.

Why Janus?

It is the people. Janus Youth is an organization of passionate people who have chosen a difficult path to advance the community by focusing on improving the lives of individuals of our future community. They do meaningful work and it is a pleasure to be present in the same environment.

What extra-curricular activities do you enjoy when not working or volunteering?

I enjoy spending time learning to play musical instruments (guitar and keyboard), sports (soccer and football), travel, and spend time with families and friends. 


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Dec 12, 2018
Visit The Sharing Tree at Washington Square Mall & Look for Janus Youth With the Red Dot on Gift Tag

The Sharing Tree at Washington Square Mall is a great way to make sure each of our youth has a gift to open on Christmas morning. Just pick an ornament from the tree located in the Nordstrom wing, near Williams-Sonoma and purchase the item listed on the tag. These gifts are distributed to Janus and eight other charities throughout the Portland metro area. Each year, more than 4,500 gifts are given to those in need through the Washington Square Sharing Tree. 

Nov 28, 2018
Ending Youth Homelessness

Every night, our downtown Portland shelters are home to youth ages 16-24 who have no other place to go. Youth often line up outside the door at 8:30 pm, hoping to get a bed and a meal for the night. Not everyone gets in. With a limit of 60 beds, the shelter can only accommodate 60 youth each night. During the winter months, there are an additional 10 beds. This year alone, the shelters housed and fed over 500 youth. While our shelters are running at full capacity and our street outreach workers are out every night providing warm clothing and crisis-intervention services, there are some positive shifts affecting the numbers and demographics of homeless youth in Multnomah County.

Nov 26, 2018
​Employee Spotlight—Gina McConnell

Gina knows what it feels like to run away. She did it at age 12 to avoid abuse at home, but like so many youth on the street, she quickly became a target for sex trafficking. After many years “in the life,” she spent time in prison where she befriended a person who said to her when she was released, “I need you to go out there and be our voice.” This was a pivotal moment for Gina and from that point on, she was committed to helping youth who have experienced similar trauma as she did. Today she works in the Cowlitz County Youth Services Program as a case manager for sexually-exploited youth. We talked to Gina to find out how her experiences has prepared her for this role.

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