Staff | Chalkboard Project

Staff

Whitney Grubbs
Executive Director

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Whitney is a strategist, leader, and collaborator who has worked in education and public policy in Oregon for fifteen years. She leads Chalkboard Project’s program, policy, and strategy development; engages with Oregonians statewide to better understand community values and priorities; and forges public, private, and civic partnerships that pursue a more just future for children and families. To sustain meaningful progress, she believes in matching the urgency to act with a commitment to building trust, centering communities, and gathering broad input.

Whitney previously championed strategic investments in children and schools as a senior policy advisor and Director of State & Regional Alignment for Governor John Kitzhaber, and as Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for the Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB). She currently serves on the boards of All Hands Raised and the Oregon Community Partnership, and guides the Oregon Business Council’s Education Task Force as an Oregon Learns Fellow.

Mike Kalkofen
Finance Director

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Mike has nearly twenty years of accounting and finance management experience in organizations ranging from less than $1 million in revenue to more than $70 million. He uses numbers to streamline Chalkboard Project’s operations and map its evolution, empowering the organization to work ambitiously and effectively toward a more equitable Oregon.

Mike previously served as Finance Director for Green Empowerment, and has also been a small business owner. As a board member for Africa Bridge and an active volunteer for the ONE Campaign, he mobilizes to end extreme poverty and promote sustainable development around the globe.

Janet Soto Rodriguez
Deputy Director

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Janet began her career as a high school teacher in public and charter schools. Her former students’ energy and stories drive her work at Chalkboard Project, where she reframes what’s possible when Oregonians come together to tackle the root causes of inequity. Working hand in hand with community partners, she has navigated the Legislature, state agencies, and local governments to co-create and implement policies that more fairly serve children and families across Oregon.

Prior to Chalkboard, Janet served as the Economic and Business Equity Policy Advisor to Governor Kate Brown, as a Public Affairs Specialist for Governor John Kitzhaber, and as Policy and Advocacy Director at the Bus Project. Most recently, she was a director and strategist at Business Oregon, where she worked to disrupt the cycle of poverty in rural communities. She also serves on the Oregon Rural Development Council and on the board of Latino Network’s affiliated 501(c)4.

Ashley Walker
Office Coordinator

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Ashley brings more than fifteen years of teaching, teacher training, parent education, and administrative experience to Chalkboard Project. With a master’s degree in early childhood and elementary education, she supports Chalkboard’s commitment to ensuring every child, family, and community has an exceptional support system.

Ashley belongs to the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and is proud to be a member of NAYA's 2019-20 LEAD cohort, a program nurturing Indigenous leadership across Oregon. She is a writer and published her first chapbook, A Human Instrument, in 2018. She is also the host and organizer of Welcome Home, a monthly reading series and literary open mic in Portland.

Louis Wheatley
Strategic Communications Director

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Louis has woven a passion for democratizing ideas and animating dialogue throughout his career. At Chalkboard Project, he collaborates with communities and organizations statewide to imagine how stories can catalyze systemic change. By convening Oregonians around shared work and elevating narratives that spark curiosity, he seeks to upend entrenched beliefs and divisions that impede progress for children.

Before joining Chalkboard, Louis was the Director of Programming and Associate Publisher at Zócalo Public Square, a nonprofit civic forum and ideas magazine in Los Angeles. He was previously based in Budapest for the communications arm of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), covering rural development in the post-Soviet region. He also serves on the board of Mission: Citizen, a youth-led civic education nonprofit in Portland.