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Partner Highlight: Doug Adler

Posted by Social Venture Partners Portland

Doug Adler is a creative entrepreneur with an eclectic background in photography, writing, marketing, advertising sales, and retail sales. He loves gathering with friends to cook, eat, drink, and converse. He is happiest when exploring Portland on his bike. 

Q: What made you want to become an SVP Partner?

I learned about SVP Portland from a consultant friend. I was reflecting on charitable giving and feeling ‘meh’, and she suggested SVP might be worth exploring.

I completely resonate with SVP’s values, particularly the prioritization of equity. I also respect SVP’s approach, which, as I see it, is illustrated by this story:

An individual is enjoying a waterfall, when a body comes over the falls and then another, and then another. This person has a choice – they can try to catch as many bodies as they can, or they can go upstream and try to address the problem at the source.

To the extent that it’s possible, I prefer the second option, and I think SVP attempts to do that. 

Sometimes it is difficult to keep a positive outlook in this chaotic world – with caustic politics, ongoing social issues, and canyon-sized cultural divides. I rant on Twitter, but working as an SVP Partner is more productive and impactful!

Q: What have you learned as a collaborator on the Advocacy & Impact Dynamic Team?

I have been primarily collaborating with SVP Partner Rob Aslett on reading background material and developing interview questions so that we can learn from the community about how to best partner with and support them in their advocacy work. I have learned quite a bit! For example, I have not worked with a company that had more than about 20 people, so working with a larger team of people is new for me. I am learning how to collaborate using online tools and, most importantly, I am gaining a fresh perspective on equity and privilege. 

Q: What is your background and how does that help you with your engagement at SVP?

I have an exceedingly eclectic background. In my 20s I did photography in Los Angeles and Hollywood. I also worked on two small magazines, selling advertising, writing articles, and shooting pictures. After that, I partnered with a chef in owning a restaurant here in Portland. For a while, I also owned and operated a small window-covering franchise. I’m exhausted just recalling it all! In 2005 I received a Masters Degree in Organizational Communication from Marylhurst. I wrote my thesis on issues related to organizational culture, and I believe that background is relevant to SVP and how I am able to contribute.

Q: In general, what motivates you in life?

Spending time with my wife and my two adult boys, striving to be a positive force in the world, and travel are all big motivators for me. As Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” I believe this, and would add that travel of this sort can also be in one’s own backyard.

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