Welcome Allie Callow-Spencer

August 5, 2020 | By: Erik Cathcart

Allie Callow-Spencer photo
On July 28th Allie joined Earth Advantage as our new Training Development Lead. Allie will manage a variety of tasks and projects in her new role including training class coordination, outreach, marketing support, and much more. With COVID-19 we are rapidly shifting our training to our online platform and beginning to offer more webinars as well. This means we’ll be focusing on expanding several of our key trainings across the country. I took the time to ask Allie some questions so that our community could get to know her a little. 

What drew you to apply for the job at Earth Advantage?

The role of Training Development Lead at Earth Advantage is a cornucopia of my previous work experience in sales, training, marketing, coaching and outreach.  I wanted a role that served a greater good and found that purpose with Earth Advantage.  I have 3 passions in my life: the environment, Emergency Management and creating.   When we can  build a sustainable world, then it proactively mitigates the outcomes of an unforeseen event by becoming self-sufficient and if we can lessen global warming through green building practices then we may also lessen the number of natural disasters. It is serving Emergency Management at its highest level. As the Training Development Lead, I will also use my creativity to drive efficient solutions as the depth of the program and outreach grows.  Now that I’ve started my role with Earth Advantage, I have insight to the quality team members who are fully committed to their mission of utilizing education and software to encourage green practices while serving a greater good through accessible platforms and ensure equity and inclusion through programs and outreach.

Where were you working before you joined Earth Advantage and what was your role there?

For the past 6 years I have worked as the Events Marketing Manager for Renewal by Andersen. I grew the department from about 12 events annually to a department participating in over 400 events. Starting the department from the ground up, including research and development, manual and training curriculum creation; building, onboarding, coaching of a team; advancing the company brand though promotional materials and customer interface; and  coordination and logistical support  by boots on the ground set up and dismantling  event displays. Many of the materials created within the Portland Events department were shared with nationwide affiliates. The Portland office was ranked 5th in the nation amongst its more than 100 locations. In December of 2019 I transitioned into a marketing training role, expanding on that foundation to include retail and canvassing. Prior to Renewal by Andersen I was with the Redirect Guide for 8 years as their leading advertisement  sales rep, project event manager and member advocate. It was after Hurricane Katrina while working with the Redirect Guide that I became interested in Emergency Management. Our final Redirect Home Show focused on re-localization and self-reliance as a method of emergency preparedness and resiliency.

Are you a native Oregonian? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the California Bay Area and Central Valley, but claim to be native one generation removed. My grandmother lived in one of the houses in Oaks Park where she and her brothers used to play on the Sellwood Bridge during its original construction. I moved to Oregon in 1996 to attend the University of Oregon…GO Ducks!...where I obtained my degree in Planning, Public Policy and Management with minors in Historic Preservation and Environmental Studies.

Original Sellwood Bridge Construction 

I understand that you’re a trained wilderness first responder and a certified nursing assistant. How did that come about, and has that given you a different perspective on the current pandemic?

At a time when we feel cut off and separated, now more than ever our individual practices have an impact  beyond our circle of influence to include people we may never meet.  Same could be said of our environmental practices.  We are not in a bubble, our choices do matter. In addition to the experiences you mentioned, I also have been a volunteer Multnomah County Search and Rescue member for the past 6 years. In 2016, I earned a degree in Emergency Management and obtained Clackamas County’s CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) in 2018 and am now the Gladstone CERT Operations Manager. I had the fortune of giving a Corona Virus presentation to Gladstone residents the 1st week of March after weeks of research so by the time the State Order was issued, I felt informed of timelines and expectations and just slightly ahead of the tidal wave. I also took my knowledge and shared it with friends, family and neighbors. To aid with a food supply security, I created an excel garden chart that listed items like depth of planting, days to harvest, etc. then shared this list with neighbors, and upon their request, I would deliver seeds from that list. The thought was if they had an abundance of produce, they would share with their neighbors and that was my way of establishing food security locally.

I’ve spent this time on projects that provide joy to others. I have a thirty-foot high fence on my corner lot, so I created an interactive display made from reclaimed materials. The fence features bells to ring, peep holes with dioramas behind them, and soon door knockers. I figured if all people can do during lock down was to take walks, I’d find ways to make their walks more enjoyable. It’s quite the neighborhood focal point. 

Whenever I start to feel down, I remind myself this is temporary. For all the luxuries we feel deprived from, other countries never get to experience even the most simple luxuries like food and coffee on demand through drive thru. And, I think it’s important this pandemic happened.  For the first time in a long time we’ve had to reevaluate our expectations. We’ve had to find out who we are without job titles, and how to navigate our importance when it when it used to be defined by the number of errands we ran that day. It’s a reset button we needed at a time of automation. Anything I can do to interrupt peoples repetitive thoughts of perhaps worry and uncertainty and allow them to pause and be present is how I use art to make positive change. during this challenging time.

I understand you once worked for the DMV? Can share something about that experience that would give us a better view of an often misunderstood organization?

I loved working at the DMV. So much opportunity to interface with people! Even there, I’d try and establish joy. I’d take my fancy scarfs and wrap them around elder ladies so they could look glamourous in their Drivers License pics and always aimed to capture that smiling moment when all customer’s had a twinkle in their eye.

In terms of the organization itself, I would say that energy is reciprocal. The person who first stood in line becomes a different person by the time they’ve waited for an hour. By the time they do speak to someone either in person or over the phone, the staff at the front lines receive the brunt of people’s desperation while the staff themselves may be frustrated with the service they can provide within the limitations of regulations and protocols.

Rumor has it that you and your husband are legendary Halloween costume makers. Can you share a little about that and how you got interested in that.

My poor husband got suckered into dressing up through guilt by association. Costuming was already a big part of my life when I met my straight and narrow computer science partner. For me, costuming is an invitation to play, to explore a side of yourself, or enlist others to express a side of themselves. After years of working through my husband with this, I finally found the formula to encourage his participation:  He’s comfortable and he can move in it; He doesn’t have to carry it up a flight of stairs; It doesn’t take a moving van to transport. Seriously, this has happened on more than one occassion. He finally got what dressing up was about when we attended a Vallowtween (Valentines/Hallowen) event. He was a light bulb and I was a moth. He realized ressing up wasn’t about us receiving attention, it was about adding joy to everyone else’s experience. People were delighted and in that small way, that night, we made other people happy. On a separate occasion the $3,000 first place Halloween prize definitely got him on board. Now he is a willing participant. As a way to keep up my morale during lockdown, he let me surprise him with a costume each day he returned from work. What started as a shared experience between us, was passed on to others through Facebook and Instagram in the form what we call "Quaritine Quick Pics". This soon became something those in our social circles starting look forward to each day. He steals the show in most of the pics. Ah, how far he’s come.

What are you most looking forward to in your new role at Earth Advantage?

I’m really looking forward to reconnecting with my former ReDirect Guide clients; people who care about the environment, who care for more than just about themselves. Some of my best working relationships have been with these aware and dedicated individuals. What strikes me about entrepreneurs in the green industry is that they followed their passion and boldly did something that was unique to them. So much has evolved these past seven years, but these green business are still thriving today. I find inspiration within their success and lasting commitment. I’m looking forward to taking all the skills gained from the past seven years at Renewal and return to promote sustainability more equipped and capable than before. I aim to assist Earth Advantage’s mission toward effecting the greatest environmental change through better built buildings and propel our equity and inclusion programs.

If you could live anywhere in the world other than the greater Portland area, where would that be?

I’m in Gladstone now, does that count as Portland? My husband and I sometimes talk about retiring on some farm land in Canby, Silverton or Forest Grove.  I want to someday raise pigs and ducks.  He wants land to tend his Bonzi and vegetable gardens. Fort Collins, Colorado or Lafayette, Louisiana are the only other cities I’ve visited that I would consider. As far as the world goes, Tonga.  Tonga is a matriarchal ruled society. Anyone I’ve ever met from Tonga, primarily at the DMV, have been delightful.  Big world shift. Tonga.

What are you most looking forward to in a post-pandemic world?

Hugging my parents. Heck, hugging strangers. Eating someone else’s cooking other than my own and sharing my food with others. Dancing within large groups of people, bonus if at a concert where I can wander through crowds. Sharing my once annual cigar around a campfire with friends. Those are the things I wish to return to.  Having gone through the pandemic, the things I want to keep is the permission to be still and just listen, accessibility to take daily walks with my mentor and the willingness to adapt to consistently changing environments.