Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I Was a Stranger, Day 35: Kim Malek

Today I'm honoring creative and principled businesswoman Kim Malek, cofounder of Portland's beloved Salt & Straw craft ice cream company. I had the honor of meeting Malek last year when she spoke at IABC, a professional society for communicators. Hearing her speak made me love Salt & Straw even more than I already did. With its fantastic mission of community building, Salt & Straw truly embodies "doing well by doing good." She's a dynamic, authentic, and inspiring speaker. See for yourself, as she talks about kindness being at the heart of Salt & Straw's business model and the community building in the long lines in this speech in 2015. It will make you want to support this great company even more than you already do!

Fangirl moment
I'm especially delighted and proud that Malek is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University (that link goes to Facebook video talking about PLU), my alma mater and where my son Chris is attending.

Today a Facebook friend shared this article from Basic Rights Oregon, in which Malek discusses how her thoughts about race and gender identity have evolved.

She grew up in Billings, MT, so she didn't think much about race. “I am horrified to admit that I was one of those people who said I am color blind,” she said. “I am so embarrassed to say that.” But when she married an African-American man and they adopted three African-American kids, her perspective changed completely. “Now I live as the only white person in my family, and especially as we’ve gone through this election cycle, I now see race through the lens as their mom and his partner.”

Supporting Salt & Straw!
In the article, she shares her reaction after the 2016 election, racial harassment in Portland, supporting transgender employees, and how businesses can make justice part of their business model as Salt & Straw has, supporting numerous causes and local schools. All employees receive affordable health care (including access to gender-affirming care for transgender employees, birth control and family planning, and three months of parental leave). They also receive more than 40 hours of training, which includes learning how to interrupt oppression or abusive behavior to help staff achieve a level of respect for themselves and the people around them.

My admiration for Malek continues to increase. Time for some ice cream in the name of kindness and justice!

Read more of my "I Was a Stranger" entries here.

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