The Portland Society: Bikes, Business, Women
A little more than one year ago, two cycling friends put their heads together to come up with an idea to make the world a better place. What came out of that brainstorm was The Portland Society, a nonprofit business alliance for women passionate about business and bicycles.
“There was a need for a community of professional women who are really excited about cycling,” said society cofounder Ellee Thalheimer (right, above), who started the society with Elly Blue (left, above).
Since the society’s inception, it has grown to more than 25 members, held two fundraising galas and established a professional development grant fund to help its members.
“Our vision we had when we put The Portland Society together,” Thalheimer said, “really is happening.”
That vision was to put together a professional organization similar to other industry-specific organizations but strictly for either women involved in the cycling industry or professional women with a passion for and interest in cycling. Thalheimer first thought of putting the society together after an event in April 2010 called Bike Economics, which featured only women vendors.
“It was so inspiring to have all those people together,” Thalheimer said. She wanted to continue the momentum built at Bike Economics and so The Portland Society was born. All the funds raised at the first Bike Economics event went to establish the society’s scholarship fund.
The society meets the first Wednesday of every month at 8 a.m. at Palio’s, the coffee shop at the center of Ladd’s Addition, 1996 SE Ladd Ave. The women discuss what is new in their businesses or professional lives, network with other like-minded women, and discuss how to promote active transportation. Active transportation is transportation involving physical activity as opposed to sitting in a car.
Most importantly, the group established a professional development grant fund to help members who want to improve their leadership skills in active transportation. The first group of three grant recipients received funds ranging from $250 to $500, all to go toward education and professional development to advance active transportation.
Members pay either monthly or annual dues on a sliding scale ranging from $100 to $150 a year. Guests may attend a few meetings before making a commitment to join.
Those interested in joining the society can visit the group’s website at http://portlandsociety.org or stop by the monthly meeting.