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The Free Spirits

The Free Spirits

Freeland Free Spirits program celebrates female-identifying, transgender, and gender-nonconforming Oregonians who are busting through the glass ceilings and soaring. These are people who think and act in an uninhibited way without worrying about so-called rules or norms. We might call them non-conformists, rule-benders, iconoclasts, mavericks, or bohemians. We might say they march to their own beat, to their own muse. We appreciate them for their abilities to help their community, to create beauty, to be original, to blaze trails, and to celebrate unabashedly.

Know a good candidate for our next Free Spirit? Nominate them today!

Heather Keisler Fornes, Portland Fruit Tree Project

Heather Keisler Fornes, Executive Director of the Portland Fruit Tree Project at Freeland Spirits Tasting Room in Portland, OR holding a Spring Fever cocktail, next to a bottle of Freeland Bourbon

Meet our Spring 2024 Free Spirit, Heather Keisler Fornes, Executive Director of the Portland Fruit Tree Project! Heather's journey with PFTP began in April 2020, bringing with her a wealth of experience and a deep-seated passion for community engagement. With a background steeped in homesteading and a profound understanding of food waste streams, Heather has dedicated herself to transforming the landscape of food equity and sustainability in our community.

During her tenure at PFTP, Heather has been a driving force behind numerous initiatives aimed at fostering inclusivity and cultural relevance. She's not only diversified pantry and farming partnerships but has also spearheaded the creation of the PFTP tree care program. Heather's vision for PFTP extends beyond the orchards and into the heart of the community, empowering individuals from diverse backgrounds with the skills to care for our urban canopy.

Heather's passion for her work is palpable and her dedication to fostering a more equitable and sustainable food system is nothing short of inspiring. As we celebrate Heather's contributions to the Portland Fruit Tree Project and our community as a whole, let us also take a moment to reflect on the profound impact of her work.

Join us in honoring Heather, a true Free Spirit whose passion and dedication are helping to cultivate a brighter, more fruitful tomorrow! Throughout the current quarter, a portion of the proceeds of the sales of our Spring Fever Fresh Mixer Kit will go toward advancing the Portland Fruit Tree Project’s mission of food equity and community resilience.

She Flies With Her Own Wings

Abby Guyer, Xcelerate Women

Abby Guyer, Executive Director of Xcelerate Women in Portland, OR smiling at Freeland Spirits tasting room & distillery while holding bottle of Forest Gin and Passion Potion fresh cocktail mixer

Meet our first Free Spirit of 2024 Abby Guyer! Abby is the Executive Director of Xcelerate Women, a non-profit that provides services and programs to help women business owners to grow by building economic power. She is a creative strategist and brand builder with a passion for authentically creating social and cultural impacts in the community. Abby is an advocate for self-efficacy, who strives to impart on members of Xcelerate the confidence and skills to realize they are each in control of their own destiny.

Bringing her strong marketing background to a non-profit leadership role, Abby is looking to “change the face of success and business”; meaning that success doesn’t look the same for everyone. Xcelerate works with women to set their own benchmarks tailored to the type of business and lifestyle they aspire to. In 2023 alone, Xcelerate has worked closely with and impacted 181 women-and-gender expansive-owned businesses while collectively employing 537 Oregonians. Workshops and mentoring within the program are conducted by professionals in a variety of specialized fields including hospitality, tech, food & beverage, health & wellness, and more.

We admire Abby & Xcelerate’s work to create long lasting and sustainable growth for women in business in our community!  Raise a glass with us in celebration off all that they do to amplify these voices. Throughout the current quarter, a portion of the proceeds of the sales of our Passion Potion Fresh Mixer Kit will go to benefit Xcelerate. We will also be hosting an event in Abby’s honor at our tasting room in NW Portland, keep an eye out for the announcement!

She Flies With Her Own Wings

Beach Pace, Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia NW

Beach Pace of Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia NW. Smiling with a Free Fallin' cocktail next to a bottle of Freeland Dry Gin.

Meet this quarter’s Free Spirit, Beach Pace.  Beach is the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia NW serving youth in the Portland/Vancouver metro area. Initially starting her service journey in the military and then spending the past 17 years in the social change sector specifically in service to youth, Beach has a deep belief in the power of mentorship.  

Since 1904, Big Brothers Big Sisters has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is incredible potential. As part of the national Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia NW makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers ("Bigs") and children ("Littles"), ages 6 through young adulthood. The goal is that every child graduates from high school with a plan for their future and a mentor whose impact lasts a lifetime.  

During her tasting at Freeland, Beach fell in love with the flavor and comfort of the cocktail featuring apples as it brought her back to her own youth and picking apples in the fall. Cheers to Beach for her dedication to service and commitment to youth mentorship. In celebration of her work, a portion of the proceeds from sales of our Free Fallin’ cocktail kits will go to support youth in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia NW (BBBS CNW) program. We will also be hosting an upcoming celebration in her honor and benefiting BBBS CNW so be on the lookout on social media and our newsletters. 

Beach Pace, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia NW. Freeland Spirits Q4 Free Spirit, 2023. Smiling with a Free Fallin' cocktail next to a bottle of Freeland Dry Gin.Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest logo

 

She Flies With Her Own Wings

Stacy Sawin, FinAbility

Stacy Sawin, CEO & Founder of FinAbility. Freeland Spirits Free Spirit. Stacy sitting in a booth holding a green cocktail, next to a small table holding a green Fresh Mixer bottle and bottle of Freeland Bourbon.

Meet this quarter’s Free Spirit, Stacy Sawin! Stacy is the CEO and co-founder of the non-profit FinAbility. With her background in volunteering at women service organizations and earning her MBA in business school, she has launched impactful resources to support folx in her community. On average it takes 7 attempts for a survivor to leave their harm-doer, most often because of financial insecurity. FinAbility financially empowers survivors of domestic abuse through programs designed to safely facilitate their independence. FinAbility launched their resources in Spring of 2022, and has since provided services to over 13,000 survivors and community members.

Cheers to Stacy for her passion to protect her community and help them thrive! In celebration of her dedication and outstanding leadership, a portion of the proceeds from the sales of our Born This Way fresh cocktail kits will go to support FinAbility. We will also be hosting an upcoming celebration in her honor and benefiting FinAbility, so keep an eye out on social media and our newsletters.

Stacy Sawin of FinAbility holding a green Born this Way Cocktail at Freeland Spirits sitting in a booth. Sat next to a small white table with a green fresh prebatched cocktail mixer and bottle of Freeland Bourbon.Non-profit FinAbility logo. 'Fin' in black text and 'Ability' in orange text.

 

 

 

She Flies With Her Own Wings

Erin Waters, Basic Rights Oregon

Free Spirit Award Winner: Erin Waters representing Basic Rights Oregon, posing with Freeland Spirits Bourbon
Meet our newest Free Spirit, Erin Waters! As a member of the board at Basic Rights Oregon and Director of Equitable Programs & Services at Black & Beyond the Binary, she has committed herself to raising awareness and providing resources to better serve LGBTQ2SIA+ folks in the community. A particular focus for Erin is in supporting the Black Queer Community. Much of her service is in the scope of healthcare, with initiatives such as development of patient advisory councils, peer-based mentoring programs, and assisting in the establishment of community speech pathology programs. Erin has received acknowledgment for her work as a Queer Hero by the Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest in 2019 and received the David J. Lawrence Community Service Award from Kaiser Permanente in 2020. We are so excited to feature Erin and raise a glass to the amazing impact she has made!
Free Spirit Erin Waters drinking Life's A Peach, a Freeland Spirits bourbon cocktailA portion of the proceeds from the sales of our Life's A Peach kits will go to Basic Rights Oregon. 
Basic Rights Oregon works fearlessly and tirelessly to build a strong, vibrant, powerful, and progressive movement for LGBTQ2SIA+ equality. LGBTQ2SIA+ Oregonians exist in every community, and we understand that we have to engage in strategic, values-based coalitions to address the many needs of our communities.
They're working to ensure access to ALL gender-affirming care is covered through any health insurer in our state, including the Oregon Health Plan, engaging with communities across Oregon that are battling against racism, homophobia and transphobia in their school districts, and expanding the ability to provide valuable trainings about the queer and trans communities for Oregon workplaces, faith communities, school districts, and business partners.

 

She Flies With Her Own Wings

Laura Kerr, Planned Parenthood - Columbia Willamette (PPCW)

Free Spirit Laura Kerr with Planned Parenthood

Congrats to Laura Kerr, this quarter's Free Spirit. Laura is partner in the environmental, natural resource and land use group at Stoel Rives LLP, and also spends her time as an advocate for reproductive rights.  

Laura has been a supporter of Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette (PPCW) for years and believes it is more important than ever to defend and support the right to autonomy, equality and safe access to reproductive care, including abortion. 

 

PPCW is in the process of establishing a new health center in Ontario, Oregon near the Oregon/Idaho border, where the nearest health center providing comprehensive reproductive care is 250 miles away in either direction. PPCW believes that all people should have the right to control their own body, life, and future – no matter where they live – and is committed to ensuring people have access to the care they need. 

A percentage of proceeds from the Carousel cocktail kit, will support PPCW to provide more and better access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.

She Flies With Her Own Wings

Kelly Saavedra, Project Lemonade

Free Spirit Kelly Saavedra with her cocktail

Kelly Saavedra is an advocate for foster youth. Since 2020, she has served as the Store Program Manager at Project Lemonade, an organization that inspires self-esteem in foster youth. With Kelly’s leadership, the Project Lemonade store has grown from a twice-per-year shopping event, to a year-round retail store open 5 days per week. Foster youth often leave their homes abruptly and with few belongings. The Project Lemonade store provides 20+ new clothing items free-of-charge to 2,500 foster youth annually. Project Lemonade Executive Director, Lindsay McDonnell shared, “Kelly was amazing during the pandemic… She really stepped up to make sure that foster youth and foster families had the support they needed.”

Freeland Spirits Forager Fresh Cocktail

In addition to her work with foster youth, Kelly has dedicated 20+ years to social service including work in Victim Advocacy. Kelly is proud to support Project Lemonade and hopes you will check out The Forager to help inspire self-esteem in foster youth.

She Flies With Her Own Wings

Kali Thorne Ladd, The Children’s Institute

Free Spirit Kali Thorne Ladd at the Freeland Distillery

Kali Thorne Ladd is a social entrepreneur who co-founded Kairos PDX, which spearheads a movement towards equitable education in Portland, and now serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Children’s Institute. Through policy and advocacy, The Children’s Institute “works to improve the lives of children from prenatal to age 8 who experience institutional or systemic barriers to opportunity in Oregon: children from low-income families, children of color, disabled children, dual language learners, and children in rural areas".

Freeland Spirits Rose City Gimlet Cocktail

The Children’s Institute is a pillar for educational progress, not only behind the scenes, but on the front-lines, by supporting families with publicly-funded preschool, health initiatives, and research “aim to keep kids healthy and safe and prepare them to be active, engaged learners”. Here’s a toast to Kali, and the bright futures she and the Children’s Institute inspire!

 

She Flies With Her Own Wings

Rebecca Kaihani, HF Garden Project

Rebecca Kaihani, HF Garden Project

Rebecca Kaihani founded HF Garden Project in 2019, which is an inspiring 501(c)(3) non-profit that grows and donates nutritious, natural food to local children and families in need at no cost. Surrounded by lush forests, rushing streams, and vibrant neighbors, HF Garden Project sits on a 30-acre property shared by the Hillockburn Farm shop and founders’ own home just outside of Estacada. By bringing business, home, and service together into a shared space, they actively work to model what it looks like to live an authentic life committed to growing community.Through an effective, sustainable, and culturally-responsive food program, The HF Garden Project is dedicated to addressing food-insecurity, practicing sustainability, and creating educational opportunities for local youth. After facing significant setbacks from the Riverside fire and windstorm the following year that destroyed their garden trellis system they were still able to donate nearly 1000 pounds of food to area families.

Freeland Spirits Cranberry Sour Cocktail
She Flies With Her Own Wings

Michelle Jones, Wayfinding College

Michelle Jones, Wayfinding College

Michelle is doing her life's work right now with Wayfinding College. Her purpose in life is to help others figure out what they want to do with their lives and start doing it. Five years ago, she gathered a group of like-minded friends and colleagues around a vision of what a revolution in higher education could look like. After years of volunteering with groups and non-profits to organize for social impact, (SuperThank, TEDxMtHood, World Domination Summit) Michelle took the leap and Wayfinding College was born. Learning as they grow, Wayfinding College is seeing some ripple effects of change in higher education. When not ruffling the feathers of traditional higher education, Michelle can be found walking the Camino de Santiago with fellow Wayfinders (next spring will be her eighth time!) or relaxing at her tiny home in Portland, Oregon.

Freeland Spirits Bees Knees Fresh Cocktail

She Flies With Her Own Wings
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