A native of Kansas City, Missouri, and a Vietnam-era veteran, who served in the Air Force strategic air command, Baker received a B.A. in Psychology from Rockhurst University (Kansas City, Missouri) and a MPA in Public Administration from the University of Kansas.
Greg served as the City Manager of the City of Damascus, where he worked to complete the Comprehensive Plan and helped the City prepare for future development.
Formerly, he served briefly as President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and seven years as the assistant city manager for the City of Kansas City, Missouri, spurring numerous initiatives to make the city more vibrant and maximize efficiency in city government. Prior to that, Baker, a true entrepreneur, served as president and CEO of LeadTeam LLC, a start-up leadership and marketing consulting firm and was vice president of Community Leadership with Missouri Gas Energy.
As the founding executive director of Kansas City’s Minority Supplier Council, he worked with top CEOs to connect more than 125 mainstream corporations and 185 minority firms. Those connections increased business revenues from $1.8 million to more than $467 million and stimulated new employment over a 15-year period.
In addition, Baker was the manager of community and international development with the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and worked as a Labor Relations/Equal Opportunity Officer in the Department of Human Services in Washington, D.C.
Baker’s civic leadership is unprecedented. He served as Chairman of the Minority Business Capital Corporation’s Board of Directors, and as an active member of the Rockhurst College Board of Regents, President of Verona Hills Homes Association, Downtown Community Improvement District and the EDC Business Retention Committee.
His past board memberships include the National Minority Supplier Development Council, Kansas City Consensus, Metropolitan Energy Center, Truman Medical Center, Alvin Ailey, Citizens Association, Project Equality, Metropolitan Community Colleges, Leukemia Society and Junior Achievement, Children Center of Clackamas County, Damascus Kiwanis Club.
Known for his commitment to making a positive difference within the Kansas City community, Baker has received numerous awards including the Center of Creative Leadership Award (1992), National Eagles Award for Outstanding Leadership (1994) and the Junior Achievement Up & Comers Award and The Kansas City Globe’s 100 Most Influential Blacks in Kansas City (1994). In addition, as the lead singer of Bake and the Tenderhearts, he won an Emmy Award for Vocals in the KCPT documentary, Remember Me K. In 2013 Greg was recognized by the Interfaith Peace Initiative Golden Rule International Award for service in promoting peace throughout his work and service.
Baker and his wife, Janet, have been married for 28 years and has five children and four grandchildren.
A Philadelphia, PA native, Kelly made her way out west to attend graduate school at the University of Portland fall of 2014. She is currently working towards her Masters of Fine Arts in Directing and has a great passion for the nonprofit sector. After graduating from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, Kelly worked extensively in development, fundraising, and grant writing in both Washington, DC and New York City. Prior to moving to Portland, Kelly was an associate producer for the New Musical Foundation and Moonlit Wings Productions.
She has loved putting her Nonprofit Business minor to work while utilizing her creative background to problem solve, design, and think out of the box here at Blanchet! Here at the Blanchet House Kelly is an active member of the development committee and enjoys her work in the administrative office.
In her free time Kelly loves hiking the Gorge, camping, dancing, baking, seeing theatre and spending time with her partner Matt, puppy Camden, friends and family!
Purchasing, Building and Food Services Manager
Dennis Arnold is a native Oregonian and was born on October 3rd 1967 in Portland Oregon. He grew up in a supportive family with a stay at home Mom and a Dad retired from the Marine Corps and the USDA. He grew up hunting and fishing here in Oregon with his Dad.
Dennis Arnold graduated from high school in in 1986. Prior to Blanchet, Dennis worked in both commercial and residential construction for most of his adult life. He first came to the Blanchet House in March 2012 while still residing in the old building on the corner of 4th and Glisan. After being with the Blanchet House for several months he was made floor supervisor and then ultimately was hired as the full time Food Services and Building Manager in April 2013.
In his free time, Dennis likes to travel and experience new cultures; having recently explored Prague, Czech Republic, Austria, USVI, Mexico, Canada and all over the U.S. He is planning another trip to Europe this winter.
Currently Dennis is taking courses to achieve his Purchasing Managers Certification and the Blanchet House has graciously agreed to financially support his education. Whenever he decides to leave the Blanchet House, Dennis will be pursuing a career in purchasing specifically the private sector.
Residential Program and Transitional Housing Manager
René was born in Palm Springs, California although his family moved to the Seattle area just before his eighth birthday. He was raised outside of Seattle in a town called Mountlake Terrace and his youth was spent being very active in school, sports and church activities. René’s curiosity of the world was sparked in his junior year abroad in Mexico as a Rotary Exchange Student. At 19, he backpacked his way through Europe, Egypt and Turkey and two years later moved to Hawaii to work mainly in the hospitality industry.
From there, René relocated to New York City and then ended up going to College in Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He worked for a non-profit dedicated to HIV prevention as a State Hotline Director. Most recently, René was the Marketing Director of an audience development company that produces Broadway and off-Broadway shows.
He has one son, Aeon, who is sixteen years old and lives in Wilmington, Delaware and he is his pride and joy. René is very grateful for this opportunity to be of service to the Blanchet House and to carry its mission; to feed, clothe and shelter the homeless. Having personally benefited from this program, he regularly expresses his commitment, investment and dreams for Blanchet. He is especially invested in its continued success and feels as if it is an honor to be here.
Ross Sears was born in Springfield, Oregon and moved to Portland in 1984. Prior to becoming the Blanchet Farm Manager in 2010, Ross worked in the construction and concrete business for years.
Here at Blanchet, Ross takes on a wide range of responsibilities. Not only does he manage the intake, discharge and oversight of all residents, but also is responsible for the care of the livestock, barn, buildings, kitchen, Blanchet Woodshop and entire Farm property. Ross is passionate about the men at the farm and subsequently works with different hospitals, courts, probation officers, social service agencies and families to ensure each guest is taken care of a helped in their journey toward recovery.
Ross has recently started his own 501(c)3 halfway house for men that graduate the Blanchet Farm program. Simplicity House is located in Yamhill county and offers an added step for those needing sustained help in their recovery. The Blanchet House of Hospitality is supporting Ross in achieving his Peer Mentoring Certificate.
In Ross’ free time, he enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time with his family and friends.
Vicky’s passion is to help support people in trusting God to reveal His divine plan and purpose for their lives and equipping them to overcome obstacles on their journey to reach victory and fulfillment. In addition to this she values developing meaningful relationships with individuals, building relationships and creating collaborative partnerships, identifying resources, and designing & improving systems. All of this results in individuals, families, communities, cities, and nations being restored.
In September 1990 Vicky began her studies at Portland Community College by entering into the alcohol and drug program. Before receiving her Associate Degree in Applied Science; two internships of approximately 6 months in duration were completed at Cornerstone in Salem and Springbrook NW in Newberg. Both were intensive inpatient alcohol and drug programs; the first focused on individuals who were incarcerated and the second focused on professional clientele. Ms. Spear began working at Springbrook NW in September of 1994 and remained there in a part time capacity as she continued her education. During this time she received a Bachelors Degree from Marylhurst University in Human Studies in 1996 and a Master’s Degree from Lewis and Clark in Counselling Psychology in 2000. Her internship for the Master’s Degree consisted of a one year time period that was spent in Washington County’s Parole and Probation and Victim Service Center. During this time she learned about domestic violence and sexual assault and worked with individuals on probation. She also taught on the cycle of violence at an inpatient women’s program. In December of 2001 Ms. Spear took a position at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility working with incarcerated females. During her time there she worked with a team of professionals and developed two of the top Intensive Inpatient and Outpatient Alternative Incarceration Programs in the state. The women releasing from CCCF had a 92.5 % success rate of stabilizing in their communities and families. In January 2014 Vicky began volunteering with the FITS (Freedom in the Son) Ministry by taking in prayer and bible studies weekly to CCCF. She also mentors women who are 6 months from their release and throughout their transition time back into their community.
For fun Vicky loves to spend time volunteering with the Freedom in the Son Ministry and going on family vacations!
Kristi is a native Oregonian and has been living in the Portland area most of her life. She raised four great children and is now the proud grandmother of three adorable boys. Spending time outdoors is how she recharges; she loves to bike, camp and spend time at the beach with friends and family. As her children started their own lives, Kristi began volunteering at a soup kitchen in East County. Through her volunteer work, she grew to learn about the guests she served, taking time to get to know them, and seeing them in a different way than before. Kristi truly believes this is her calling. Seeing the effect addiction and mental health issues had on the people she served had a profound effect on her. She soon returned to school and became a Chemical Dependency Counselor. Since then, Kristi has worked with people from all walks of life, but her heart has always pulled her toward serving the homeless population. She is excited to be joining the Blanchet team and feels blessed to have this opportunity to be part of the work we are doing here at Blanchet.