Erin Rackelman ('95)

Erin Rackelman ('95):   In 1995, when I made the trip with the inaugural group of winners to Washington DC I had just finished 10th grade. After high school I went to FSU and majored in English Literature with a minor in Film Theory and British Culture. During college I traveled extensively, spending a semester in London and a summer as the intern for the LA Times at the Cannes Film Festival in France. Upon graduation I headed to the Pacific NW and eventually landed in Portland, OR working in non-profit film. At the NW Film Center I spent many years organizing local and international film festivals and building the community outreach program. In 2004, I took a position in advertising at the Portland Mercury, an alternative newsweekly. At the paper my role was as an account executive, working exclusively with non-profits, film, and arts groups. Working at the Mercury introduced me to the mass of creative, independent businesses that exist here in Portland. As a result, a little over a year ago I was inspired to follow suit and start my own business- as a marketing and publicity consultant, for companies within the fashion industry. I have been working with multiple clients- ranging from an extraordinary milliner to an eco-luxury leather bag company. My work takes me all over the world, from London Fashion week to my client’s Asian launch in Japan later this year. In addition, I am still actively writing. I dabble in freelance work for magazines, the most recent being Nylon, and also cover the local scene in assorted Portland publications.

Although I know the program has expanded incredibly in the years that have passed, I have always pegged the experience as a pivotal point in my life. Even in its first incarnation, it personally demonstrated to me that I could be an active participant in real, social change. That awareness, that we must look to the past in order to shape the future has stayed with me all these years, and continues to influence me today.