The City Club of Portland, like many large and small nonprofits, rely on volunteer work from experienced industry professionals to provide support that they don’t have funding for. In this case, the expertise is coming from Gregg Bahr, an undergraduate PSU business student who also has more than 15 years of experience in the information technology field. Beginning as a volunteer helping with simple tasks and making phone calls, Bahr is now leading the design and implementation of City Club’s database, website, smart phone app, membership software, essentially an entire information systems overhaul.
Photo by Carole Riggs Photography
How will this database system improve City Club’s work? The nonprofit, led by Former Portland Mayor Sam Adams, is committed to providing research and education to inform the public on civic issues and policies. Bahr’s research and development will help design a system that will be unmatched by the top private companies that he once consulted for, such as Columbia Sportswear and Hewitt Packard.
“We are looking for a new management software system that will integrate the individual programs and components of City Club into a cohesive member-friendly system,” Sam Adams says. “Bahr’s work has been priceless as he has led our efforts to find the best solution among dozens of options.”
Like many Portland State students, Bahr was in midst of a successful career in information systems when things began to slow down. With multiple professional certificates, a good salary and managing a team of 18, Bahr didn’t see a need for a bachelor’s degree, that is, until the 2008 recession. Suddenly, experience alone wasn’t enough to even land an interview for a position he was overqualified for.
“I want to be on the business side, not just fixing the network and installing the software, but also using that background to be a better business leader,” says Bahr, who has been managing teams since he was 19. He decided that a bachelor’s degree in combination with his work experience can propel him into a chief information or technology position, so he enrolled at Portland Community College (PCC), graduated with a Business Transfer Degree and an Associates in accounting and transferred to Portland State’s School of Business in fall of 2013.
Now a full time student, Bahr has expanded his project with the nonprofit into two business courses for which he will receive credit. He’s committed to the impact that the City Club of Portland is making in the community and, being a father of six, especially cares about education policy and serves on the education committee of the 1,600-member organization.
PSU’s business programs are dedicated to helping students apply academics to real world experiences in the community. With a median age of 27 in its undergraduate programs, students also benefit from being in a professional learning environment with experienced peers. Click here to learn more about community-based learning opportunities at PSU’s School of Business.