Atkinson School professor appointed vice chairman of Mercy Corps Northwest

Larry Ettner, who teaches management practices for the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, was recently named vice chair for Mercy Corps Northwest, a Portland-based community development institution with ties to Willamette University.

“The real benefit isn’t for me, personally,” Ettner says. “My appointment gives students knowledge that there’s more to my job than sitting in class. Through Mercy Corps Northwest, I have an opportunity to give back to a community that has already given so much to me.”

For the past four years, Mercy Corps Northwest has partnered with Atkinson’s Practical Application for Careers and Enterprise (PACE) program, which Ettner manages. The program enables teams of Atkinson graduate students to develop both a business plan and a plan for community service, with guidance from local nonprofit organizations.

Students create and market products or services — donating the proceeds and more than 2,000 volunteer hours each year to their nonprofit and government partners.

Through Mercy Corps Northwest, students have helped shape educational programming for women at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville. They’ve aided immigrants in starting small-scale farm enterprises, and they’re helping a Portland neighborhood of renters take part in a private real estate investment.

“I think Mercy Corps Northwest has flown under the radar, but is on the cusp of going to the next level,” Ettner says. “It’s providing an unmet need. It does it well, and it does it passionately.”

Ettner, who has more than three decades of corporate leadership, investing and management experience, joined the board of directors in March. He will serve as vice chair for two years.

Mercy Corps Northwest helps low-income and disadvantaged populations in Oregon and Washington develop economic self-sufficiency and success for small businesses. Under the mission of its parent organization, Mercy Corps, Mercy Corps Northwest aims to “alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression” through its community building activities.