At age five, LESLIE GOODLOW-BALDWIN MSW '93 and her family attended their first Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade. It was to become a signal event in her life as, having attended all but one since, she is now, at 41, the youngest-ever president of the Rose Festival.
As the festival observes its centennial this year, Goodlow-Baldwin also holds the distinction of being the first African American to lead the festival's board of directors.
Her family had little money, and the Rose Festival "was our thing for recreation," says Goodlow-Baldwin. "We made a day of it," and each year watched the parade from the same spot.
A good student, she graduated from Grant High School, attended University of California at Berkeley for two years, then followed her football-player boyfriend to Grambling State University in Louisiana. There, Goodlow-Baldwin won a string of awards, was an Academic All-American, and finished her psychology degree with honors.
She then completed her master's in social work from PSU while holding down two jobs and having a baby.
Now a program manager with Multnomah County, Goodlow-Baldwin has worked for the county in various capacities for 15 years. She joined the Rose Festival board in 1999, and from the outset has "always been involved in programs and committees that are kid-related."
Goodlow-Baldwin, her husband, and their two school-age daughters love the Rose Festival. The girls are learning the importance of volunteer service from their mother's example. For Goodlow-Baldwin, greeting a soldier just returned from Iraq or having strangers come up to thank her for the festival are what make it all worthwhile.
"I really enjoy is the people part," says Goodlow-Baldwin. "And putting smiles on kids' faces."
By Cliff Collins