Meet Maura White
Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
Some people are natural dynamos, exuding such boundless energy and enthusiasm that, after just minutes with them, you feel ready to take on the world yourself.
That is Maura. Her girl-next-door looks combined with CEO chutzpah and cheerleader pep pack quite a punch.
Born and raised in Portland, Maura is the oldest of three kids. She calls herself a “cradle Catholic” (i.e., lifelong), raised with canines as part of the family. “We were always with the dogs,” she says. They had standard and mini Poodles, and one, Sam, “was like the nanny from Peter Pan — she got us through everything.”
These days Maura returns the favor as Development Officer at Clackamas County Dog Services. She doesn't have dogs herself because of her busy lifestyle, but is devoted to her cat.
One of them, Roxy, her daughter adopted from the Oregon Humane Society, "but Roxy adopted ME,” Maura giggles. “She is with me all the time. She’s like, ‘Mommy, it’s bedtime, what are you still doing watching Law & Order...?’”
A cheerleader in school, Maura says, “I AM a cheerleader! I’m optimistic; my cup is always half full . . . it drives some people crazy. I lost a job once . . . “
Insert screeching-tires sound effect. Wait, WHAT?
“I know,” she says, acknowledging that this surprises many.
After heading up PAL (Police Activities League) in Portland for 18 years, Maura had divorced and taken a job with the Portland Parks Foundation that offered her more opportunity and pay. At least for ten months.
“I was told to resign or be fired," she says, still surprised by the outcome. "WOW!”
Soon after, an opening at Clackamas Dog Services got her attention. “The posting was an RFP for development services. I missed the first round, and my friend Shannon kept on me about it. Sure enough, there was a second round and I finally said, ‘Lemme go for it.’”
She did, and the gig was hers. In three years Maura has helped the organization create new programs including a nonprofit foundation. She's also assisted the shelter in making beneficial connections like a partnership with Maddie’s Fund, which she says has beefed up the volunteer force.
While the contract ended after two years, Maura stayed on part-time. That meant finding another source of income. She actually has a sideline business as kind of a "job finder" for other people, and that's where she found her next opportunity.
"Some people make cookies, I find people jobs," she laughs. "I’m a matchmaker.”
While scanning positions for others Maura saw an opening for executive director of the Mother and Child Education Center. "I said 'Oh my gosh, they need me!’" Turns out they did.
It’s been a great match for Maura; the pieces of her career mosaic fit together perfectly.
“Now I work with dogs, babies and kids!” she says with characteristic fast-paced cheer. “It’s amazing, actually — such an unexpected twist!”
Knowing Maura one quickly realizes that even the most “unexpected” twists ultimately fit her trajectory incredibly well. She is gifted at finding the right people and connecting them for everyone's benefit. During her career she’s raised well over $10 million for various organizations. “I run around raising money,” she smiles.
When not working? “I’m coaching my son’s high school rec basketball team, and I chaired the annual fundraiser for my daughter’s school. We raised $96,000! Just happy, happy stuff,” she says.
About the shoe highlighted in this series, Maura says, “I’m so glad you do that! I’m always in cowboy boots . . . or flip-flops. My friends are like, ‘Yep, there’s Maura in the snow on Mt. Hood in flip-flops!’”
If that's surprising, wait until you hear about the time she ran her fingers through Arnold Schwarzenegger's hair . . . .
“Ten years ago I was asked to do a summit in DC — Arnold Schwarzenegger participated, and I sat next to him all day," she explains. "I asked if I could touch his hair. He let me, and it was like a Ken doll — his hair doesn’t move!’”
With everything under her belt, Maura still has a bucket list, including shooting a gun (“that may sound bad — I’ve just never done it, and I want to some day!”), and winning the lottery. “I just feel like I will," she says.
That certainty comes from the fact that Maura is a self-described intuitive, a gift she says she inherited from her grandmother. She says, "I just know things, and I act on them. I have the Master’s Degree and all that, but it’s intuition that really guides me.”
Clearly, it’s working.
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Kristan Dael is a freelance writer and the alter ego of Jennifer Mccammon. She lives in Portland with her 4-pack, and strives to produce articles that inform, edify, engage and entertain.