This week’s #WomanCrushWednesday goes out to an entrepreneur, avid volunteer, and self-proclaimed big ol’ butch – the brave, bold and beautiful Shaley Howard.
Shaley Howard grew up in the Portland area and graduated from the University of Oregon in 1996. Her entrepreneurial spirit led her to open Cafe Jumpstart, which she ran for three years before selling it to backpack across Europe. She came back to Oregon and turned to real estate in Eugene, which she toiled in for four years before moving back to Portland to start yet another company – Scratch N’ Sniff Pet Care. 13 years later, it remains a job that Shaley absolutely loves. This pet lover writes a blog called “The Adventures of a Butch Dog Walker.” (We highly recommend it – it’s funny, deep, and beautifully written.) Her writing has been published in a number of magazines, including Curve, Eile and Butch is Not a Dirty Word.
Shaley is a strong believer in community building and volunteerism. Some of her proudest accomplishments involve work she’s done with various nonprofits and causes. She created and ran the Portland Women’s 3X3 Basketball Tournament for a decade, a benefit for the Human Rights Campaign that raised more than $55,000. She was a GLAPN Queer Hero in 2015 and the Q Center’s Shine Quasar award recipient last year. And if you’re a soccer fan, you might have seen her featured on the Portland Timbers FC billboard – a HUGE honor! Other nonprofits that have benefitted from Shaley’s time and talents include Oregon Tradeswomen Inc, Basic Rights Oregon, NARAL, the Q Center, Cascade AIDS project, PFLAG, SYMRC and Lovett Deconstruction.
Shaley was born and raised in a time when very, very few people were openly gay. She struggled mightily with addiction, losing just about everything, including her own life. It took her a long time to not only accept herself as a lesbian, but to realize and embrace her power and beauty. Her internal strength and passion is directly connected to the intersectionality of being a woman and a lesbian, and after years of struggling in a sexist and homophobic culture, she’s eager and ready to share those lessons with others – PARTICULARLY marginalized groups. We all have value and we all deserve basic rights and equality – regardless of age, gender identity, race, or socioeconomic status. Be true to yourself – Shaley has that tattooed on her body – and try as hard as you can to be loving and kind to others. Always.