During Pride Month, we are sharing the stories of LGBTQ+ employee-owners at Parametrix. Today we wrap up the month with Emily McKernan, who is a Senior Administrative Assistant for Parametrix’s Portland and Vancouver offices and is part of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. She has worked at Parametrix for 4 years.
Tell us about your career. What do you do? Tell us about a project you’re working on currently or a project you have worked on that you’re proud of.
My background is in English/Creative Writing and Theatre, but I have worked as an office professional for over 10 years. I’ve been at Parametrix for four of those years and am the Senior Administrative Assistant for the Portland and Vancouver offices. I do a little bit of everything, but I suppose the things I am most proud of in my time here were being involved in the 2020 Labor Day Fire Cleanup project with the Oregon Department of Transportation, being selected as the Portland 2021 Employee-Owner of the Year and my recent start on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Mostly, I love problem solving, meeting new people, and bringing others together.
Tell us about your family.
I am a Portland native and my whole giant extended family resides here. My mom, two younger sisters and dad and stepmom are nearby. I have a couple amazing friend groups- some from childhood, past jobs, and now some great friends with other Parametrix employee-owners. I also have my wonderful boyfriend, Matt, who is my biggest supporter.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I am a rare breed- an extroverted book worm. A few people in my office even will check in with me on my book goal progress for the year. Last year I read 90 books. I also am on a pub trivia team, create various types of art, and am one of the co-captains of Portland Parametrix’ kickball team.
How has being LGBTQ+ influenced your career? What challenges have you faced?
I didn’t come out as Bi/Pansexual until I was 25. Thankfully I have a very supportive community but my job at the time was conservative in a lot of ways. Many people questioned me if bisexuality even existed. Overall, I’m lucky I didn’t have any bad experiences and I am glad I was able to be the first queer person some of my previous colleagues had ever known or worked with. I have always wanted to be a safe place for people to ask questions and educate themselves without judgement.
What does Pride Month mean to you? How do you celebrate? What would you like others to know about Pride Month?
Last year fellow employee-owner Clara Olson and I tie-dyed sweatsuits in the bi pride colors to celebrate. I try to go to at least one charity type event each year. This year it was attending the Oregon Wine County Pride Trivia Brunch that funded LBGTQ+ efforts in more rural parts of the state. Pride Month is a special thing and I participated as an ally before I even identified as queer. Giving underrepresented people a place to speak loudly, be themselves, and love whomever they want is vital.
Can you recommend any LGBTQ+ organizations to support?
The Q Center is a nonprofit in Portland that I have donated to for years. They provide amazing outreach, support, and resources. Plus, they are just a hop-skip from the Portland Parametrix office.