PENDLETON — Karen Willis has been hired as the new School to Careers coordinator for the Pendleton School District.

She joins Jane Waldher, who is also a school to careers coordinator in Pendleton, as well as for the Athena-Weston School District, and Nick Nash, who is the School to Careers coordinator for the Pilot Rock School District.

A Pendleton native with close ties to the community, Willis earned an associate’s degree from Blue Mountain Community College. She transferred to Western Oregon University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English linguistics and writing. Willis also holds a master’s degree in adult education from Oregon State University, specializing in instructional design and online learning environments.

The School to Careers program is in its fourth year. The program helps local business and industry in creating career-related learning opportunities for regional high school students. It’s operated through a partnership between Eastern Oregon Business Source and local school districts.

During the 2018-19 academic year, 335 students in the Pendleton School District took part in career-related guest speakers, an employer presentation, or a site visit or tour. There also were 95 work-based learning placements, including a mentorship meeting, job shadow or internship.

In the Athena-Weston School District, there were 29 work-based learning placements, including 18 internships and 11 job shadows. Sixty-six students attended an industry or college tour, and 35 students watched a career-related speaker.

In the Pilot Rock School District, six students completed 14 internship placements at a wide variety of placement partners across Umatilla County.

“Giving students a chance to see the world of work is developing our future workforce,” said Susan Bower, School to Careers project manager. “Both employers and teachers are essential to the School to Careers program.”

For more information about School to Careers, contact 541-215-9252 or

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