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Driving forward gender parity

Posted on 06.01.20 by Caylee Larkin in College of Arts & Science

Alumni Profile: Rachel Axtman '15

Rachel Axtman

Rachel Axtman '15
Senior Project Manager on the Economic Opportunity team, Jannus Inc.
Major: International Relations
Boise, Idaho

Tell us more about your job: What do you do and what do you like about it?

I am currently the senior project manager on the Economic Opportunity team at Jannus Inc. in Boise, Idaho. I oversee two projects that both serve young adults that arrived in the U.S. as refugees. In 2017, I designed and launched one of the projects, the EO Starling Project. Committed to driving forward gender parity and developing the leadership pipeline. The EO Starling Project pairs collegiate women ages 18-25, who have arrived as refugees, with professional women and leaders in the Treasure Valley to maximize their potential as change-makers, influencers, and leaders. Through collaborative mentoring relationships and curated events and curriculum, the EO Starling Project supports mentees as they develop and hone the tools and skills they need to build the lives they want to lead and define success on their own terms. We are currently in the process of designing our young men's mentoring program, which will mirror the EO Starling project in some ways and will cater to the unique needs of the communities of young men in the Treasure Valley. 

In addition to project design and implementation, I recruit and train mentors for the Starling Project, support mentoring relationships throughout their year-long enrollment in the program, oversee program staff and volunteers for both programs, conduct outreach and develop our donor base, support grant writing, and conduct project measurement and evaluations each year. Each aspect of my job has pushed me to become more adept at balancing deadlines and priorities, and grow into a better communicator, stronger speaker, and a more confident leader. 

If I have to choose one aspect of my work I love the most, it is the joy I am lucky to witness. Whether it is mentors and mentees building relationships that define sister-like, a mentee's job interview resulting in an offer or the hours of practicing asking for a raise paying off, mentors and mentees sharing family recipes and life stories, mentees exploring the freedom of central Idaho mountains for the first time - I feel honored to have the opportunity to build these programs and serve incredible young people.

How did you get to where you are? What should we know about you that is not on your LinkedIn profile?

When I first moved to Boise, Idaho in 2016, I was leaving a job with the Oregon Legislature and a simultaneous, brief career in the wine industry. I began working in initial refugee resettlement, supporting newly-arrived individuals secure jobs and economic stability in their first months in Idaho. It was an intense job, but one that will forever hold a special place in my heart. I don't think I ever worked longer hours or felt a greater distance between the highs and lows at work. The new administration took office shortly after I began working at the resettlement agency, and it was a challenging time.

I have grown to love the many things that Idaho has to offer; beautiful alpine lakes, incredible hot springs, mountain biking, and rock climbing. I spend most of my time outside of work exploring the miles and miles of foothills trails with my rescue dog, Sophie.

How did Linfield help prepare you for your career? 

My time at Linfield connected me to incredible mentors that helped me see my potential and pushed me (and still do) to reach it. My courses taught me a lot to see all angles of a problem and how to consider all the solutions and possible outcomes. Linfield also gave me the space and opportunities to practice pushing through fear and pursuing justice.

What advice would you give to a current student?

Seek out mentors, including in your peers. Sit in discomfort when your ideas are challenged and question where your discomfort comes from, then use that to broaden your perspectives. Unpaid internships benefit the wealthy and are a tool used to strengthen class divides; you are worthy of a paying job.