Newport takes helm at Citizens4Community
Last updated 6/22/2022 at Noon
Josie Newport, who became the new executive director of Citizens4Community (C4C) as of May 4, wants to assure that all sectors of the community will avail themselves of the platform provided by C4C.
Newport views the role of C4C as being to “provide the platform for the community to discuss interesting and important topics. I enjoy working with all personalities and weaving conversations together.”
“Josie is a real people person, with lots of energy. She is great at connecting people,” said Jane Paxson, president of the C4C board. “The board is very happy with her. She shows a real grasp of the job and the importance of neutrality.”
Newport is no stranger to Sisters. Newport’s mother, Esther Perry, owned the Curios and Collectibles store in Sisters that used to be where the Sisters Saloon and Ranch Grill’s patio now sits.
Newport’s family lived in Bend, where she attended school, but she spent a great deal of time as a child with her mother at the store. Her mom later bought and lived in the house on Hood Avenue that is now Clearwater Gallery/The Open Door.
Newport’s first job was working for Gary Frazee at Sno Cap Drive In in Sisters.
“Gary was my first boss and taught me to have a good work ethic,” Newport recalled.
She remembers helping to celebrate Frazee’s 69th birthday with past employees jumping out to surprise him when he walked in.
Newport went to school in Santa Cruz, California, studying early childhood education. She came back to Oregon and, while attempting to make some improvements to her mom’s house, a local cabinet builder, Jim Newport, rode by on his bicycle and told Josie the cabinets would never be right. She ended up marrying that bike-riding cabinet maker.
While living in Portland, Josie and Jim welcomed two sons, Ryley and Will. After working for a nonprofit group that prepared people with multiple disabilities for the workforce, Josie made a baby cape for her son. When she took him out in public wearing his cape, people asked where she got it.
Thus was born her children’s clothing company, which ended up with large orders from the likes of Nordstrom, Columbia Sportswear, and REI. As the business grew, she made a deal with REI to be able to add her fabric orders to theirs. She moved the business into the Portland Storage building on the east side of Portland and had Pinnacle Products in Vancouver manufacturing the clothing. She was receiving huge orders worth hundreds of thousands of dollars when Pinnacle dropped them to take on work for Nike.
Josie was able to merge her business with clothing manufacturer Sigrid Olsen, located back east, and they were eventually bought out by Liz Claiborne.
The Newports moved back to Sisters when the boys were in kindergarten and second grade, eventually graduating from Sisters High School. Their daughter, Delaney, was born here, and she attended Cascade Academy. The family took part of a year to travel around Asia. With Jay Zidell of Portland as a business partner, Josie opened Newport Kidsport, where she sold children’s clothing both in a retail setting and online. She used local children as her models, who ended up hanging out in the store and being part of a photo shoot for Oregon Business Magazine when they came to do a story on Josie’s business.
After returning to Sisters in 1997, Josie became involved with the Starry Nights Benefit Concert Series, making coats for the visiting artists and their children. Starry Nights debuted in 1997 and has been a major source of funding for the Sisters Schools Foundation.
When the recession hit in 2008, Josie decided it was time to return to school for further education. She attended COCC for two years, focusing on marketing and business. During that time, she and Jim divorced, but have remained good friends to this day.
While working at Bedouin, Josie drove back and forth to Portland to attend classes at Portland State University, studying women in business, conflict resolution, and sustainability, receiving her bachelor’s degree in 2015. Rather than attending the formal graduation ceremony in Portland, Josie held her own here in Sisters with friends and family in attendance. She received her diploma from her daughter, Delaney, decked in her bathrobe as her graduation gown. Her speech was about always embracing the moment and making it work.
Josie has been involved with 10 Friends, a Sisters nonprofit that assists and empowers young women, children, and communities in Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world. Josie’s son Ryley went to Nepal after graduating from Sisters High School with Rand Runco, a Sisters teacher and co-founder of 10 Friends. Delaney has attended all their meetings with her mom and has been gifted a trip by Runco and Mark LaMont, 10 Friends board members, to visit Nepal and see the work being done there by the nonprofit.
Delaney will be graduating from Oregon State University School of Forestry after the fall 2022 term. She will be following in the footsteps of her grandfather, who started the “Keep Oregon Green” campaign.
When the new Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store opened, Josie served as manager, strengthening the volunteer program for the people who worked in the shop.
Right before COVID hit, Josie moved to Vermont and worked for an agency that assisted seniors who were aging at home. She did everything from making COVID masks to running the food bank. She had always wanted to experience Vermont, as that is where her grandparents were from.
Upon her return to Sisters, the position with C4C became available and a number of locals encouraged Josie to apply, saying she would be a good fit. The C4C board concurred.
Josie is most excited to continue building connections through various C4C projects and programs and “honor what every person brings to the community.”
She shared that, since taking the position, she has received numerous texts and phone calls from friends saying they couldn’t imagine a better-fitting position for her.
Newport hopes to grow personally and professionally in her executive director position, while growing C4C.
“I look forward to being mentored by those who have more nonprofit experience,” she said.