Stephanie Hinkle, Co-Chair and Mentor Program Coordinator
Stephanie started advocating for kids and educational change when she was still a high school student. She was active in student government and student media and sought fairness and change to the level students had available. She started and ran a 4-H group for poor, underserved kids in her rural community.
Stephanie was a child advocate in a women’s shelter in Portland, Or for many years. There she fought for children’s rights and supported women suffering from homelessness and abuse. She worked with the program to provide a safe, nurturing, healing environment for the children in the shelter.
Stephanie spent several years working at the Oregon Health Division, now part of Department of Human Services. While there she worked in the business services section to support differing tasks such as accounts payable, personnel reimbursements, audit reviews, and federal cash distributions. She continued to take on more and more tasks as she learned and streamlined systems.
Stephanie then decided to pursue a childhood dream and start a school. With her as lead, she worked with other parents to first write an incentive grant, then start and operate Trillium Charter School. During the many years of operation Trillium, she learned through trial and error, how to operate a school. At that time, charters were very new in Oregon and very little help existed. Everyone was trying to figure it all out. There were very few other charter schools, and the ones that existed were so young they had very little to offer in the way of support and guidance. The sponsoring district also had very little experience with charters, and what little experience they had, mostly was bad. There was a great deal of resistance to charters and often open hostility.
The challenges to opening and operating the school were huge and constant. The school began to show success in multiple ways, and demand continued to increase. During the fourth year of operation, Trillium was able to purchase its own building. Trillium found community partners, mostly a very supportive bank and a development company to assist and support the purchase. Very few charters own their buildings.
The fifth year of operation, Trillium won a two year dissemination grant from Oregon Department of Education. With this grant, Stephanie was able to provide direct support for schools in the beginning stages of development and operation.
Stephanie has been active in getting a state-wide charter organization up and operational for many years. She has served on advisory committees and conference committees.
Stephanie now provides consulting services to schools and other nonprofit organizations.