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Lead Partner Perspective: Jane Williams Grube, IRCO

Posted by Sagarika Ravishankar

Jane Williams Grube is the Lead Partner for our partnership with the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) and brings tremendous nonprofit leadership expertise to this SVP role. She has rich and varied experiences in nonprofit capacity building, community engagement and women’s and gender issues in policy, and has made her mark on the Urban League of Pittsburgh, PA and the Windham County United Way. She has also worked overseas for over 25 years, doing work with organizations like The Asia Foundation, where she led a capacity building project with the Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Women’s Affairs. We’re incredibly fortunate to have her as a Partner!

Why did you decide to join SVP?

Simply, I joined so that I could be the Lead Partner for IRCO. Well, there’s more to it than that. I met SVP Encore Fellow, Deb Mrazek, and over several cups of tea, she suggested that I learn about SVP. I soon realized that SVP’s approach to solving community issues through vital partnerships resonated with me.

Why did you decide to be a Lead Partner?

It decided me. Staff at SVP were aware of my deep interest in IRCO. When IRCO became an Investee, SVP engaged me. I was very new, so I was unsure if I was the right person, but it was an incredible opportunity to work with two organizations whose work I value.

What about IRCO spoke to you?

IRCO is a remarkable organization. Founded by refugees, it’s been serving the immigrant and refugee community for over 40 years. Its growth over that period has been amazing but one value remains constant: it remains community driven. Its diverse clientele defines and builds its programs. There is incredible energy at IRCO. When I walk in the front door, when I encounter staff and see them at work, it makes me hopeful and positive.

How has the work with IRCO been valuable to you?

I am challenged. I am learning; I am a part of something that will make a positive difference. I keep learning and having my assumptions challenged. That’s very important to me. I have learned a great deal about the critical importance of early childhood. IRCO has a major commitment to early childhood programming and engagement with families. Investment at this stage is so very important both to the child and family development and to integration into the education system and to the broader community.

How does IRCO plan to create changes that will provide more equitable childcare options for the community?

IRCO is looking at the feasibility of creating a preschool program to address the specific needs of the immigrant community. IRCO also wants to—and does—partner with other organizations to advocate and build a strong platform for early childhood education in Oregon.

With SVP’s investment, how does IRCO plan to grow its early childhood impact in the community?

Our investment will help IRCO explore the feasibility of creating a preschool program for the community they serve. At the moment, we are looking at the local and national landscape for culturally specific and relevant preschool programs. By January 2018 (the end of our first year’s investment), we expect to have a clear understanding of the market and possible options for IRCO. Then, we can move to business planning in the next year of our Partnership.


Questions? Thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.


Our Partnership with IRCO is focused on developing a preschool with culturally specific programs that will serve IRCO’s diverse communities. By the end of our two-year Partnership, IRCO will have the information necessary to determine its resources and capacity for creating a culturally and linguistically specific preschool program, and to make an informed decision regarding its direction over the next three to five years. To learn more about IRCO, click here. 

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