C4C director is a 'network weaver'
Last updated 6/20/2023 at 11:05am
Kellen Klein, the new interim executive director of Citizens4Community (C4C), describes himself as a "network weaver" who has known from a young age that he wanted to do "purpose-driven work."
Klein, one of three new board members for C4C, was asked to become the interim executive director when Josie Newport announced her intention to step down from her director position. Her last day was June 9, after working with Klein to make a smooth transition.
C4C is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that fosters a connected community in Sisters Country by encouraging civility, collaboration, and civic engagement.
Newport is looking forward to restarting her children's clothing business, and perhaps doing some work as a community volunteer coordinator to assist Sisters residents who are looking for ways to get connected to local organizations. She said she is excited for the Board's new members and some projects being planned for the coming year.
"Kellen is a great asset for the organization," she said.
Klein, his wife, and two young children made the move from Portland to Sisters after several visits during the pandemic when they made some serendipitous connections with some locals.
They bought a house in ClearPine. Their 5-and-a-half-year-old daughter attends the local Waldorf School. Klein's wife, who had worked for Nike, quit her job after deciding she "wasn't going to make a difference in the world by selling shoes."
The biggest reason for making the move to Sisters was the opportunity they saw to build an intentional community. Neither of them has much extended family and they've already seen that "Sisters is a great place to raise kids and build community."
Klein's education and work experience have prepared him for community-building, and leading C4C. A Seattle native, he received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University and his master's from the University of California at Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science and Management.
His first job was with a nonprofit consulting firm called Future 500, working with Fortune 500 companies to help them focus on staying true to their missions. They helped corporations and activists find common ground. They were part mediators and part matchmakers.
Klein worked for eight years in San Francisco and then Portland encouraging stakeholder engagement and relationship building among diverse interests, both nationally and internationally.
"I gained a ton of experience in all facets of consulting and nonprofit leadership, but I didn't feel I was pulling on the levers of systemic change," he said, explaining his decision to join the nonprofit Center for Humane Technology.
Klein believes we have a social dilemma when it comes to how we use technology, and he advocates for using it differently. The Center offers a free online course for startup founders and techies working in non-technical companies. He was the course manager who set up a community of practice where people taking courses could connect and dive deeper while networking. Klein was responsible for keeping content in eight modules up to date. He said he enjoyed the online community-building focused on sustainability and responsible technology. When he left, they had created a thriving community involving 13,000 people in 130 countries.
As the Kleins settle into their new home, Kellen has been looking for ways to get involved and make a difference. He knew about C4C before moving here and has led several Let's Talk sessions and joined the Board before being asked to step in as interim executive director. During the transition time with Newport, he received a great oral history of the town from the longtime Sisters resident.
Right now, he is doing a lot of "deep listening" to determine what has worked, what hasn't, what needs strengthening, and what are the community-driven priorities. He sees his role as a builder of relationships without an agenda. He will be working on systems improvement and getting the office in order. After listening well, he will engage in thoughtful reflection to reimagine how C4C can best serve the community.
Klein believes when people feel safe, they are able to trust which leads to relationship building and understanding. From there, people can collaborate, which leads to change. He said C4C has a role to play at every step.
On the horizon is a program involving the Ford Family Foundation, Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, Portland State University, and the National Policy Consensus Center. It is hoped a cohort of 12 local citizens will begin in Spring 2024 a Community Builders Development program. Hillsboro has been involved in the program already.
Regularly scheduled programs sponsored by C4C will continue. These include "Let's Talk" the third Monday of the month at Paulina Springs Books; Community Builders the second Wednesday at 10 a.m. at various local businesses, a meetup for new and longtime residents the last Tuesday of the month at The Barn, 5 to 6:30 p.m.; and two large community forums annually on topics of wide interest at the Sisters Fire Community Hall in the evening.
To contact Kellen Klein, email dir[email protected] or call the office at 541-203-0527.