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Live, work, play: Gale Castillo

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Articles - October 2012
Monday, September 24, 2012
1012 LiveWorkPlay GaleCastillo
Gale Castillo was the first in her family to graduate high school or go to college.
// Photo by Sierra Breshears


Gale Castillo co-founded the Portland-based Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber in 1994 and became its president in 2001. She is also the co-owner of Cascade Centers, which provides employee-assistance program services and staff development throughout the United States. Her public service experience includes working as an assistant to former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt and as a job-training manager for the state’s economic development department. Castillo, 59, also has worked for AT&T, Pacific Northwest Bell and RESTOR Communications. She serves on the Linfield College board of trustees, the Portland mayor’s economic cabinet and Multnomah County’s business advisory council. She has three adult sons and lives in Southwest Portland with her husband, Jerry.


“Very family-oriented, committed, very focused on whatever project I’m doing, whether it’s dinner or running the chamber. I’m very outcomes-oriented. What makes me happy is when I achieve a goal I’ve been working toward. It gives me a real sense of satisfaction. I also enjoy being with friends and sharing with them great music and good food.”


“We like to travel throughout Mexico and Europe. We took a cruise to Venice, the Greek islands, Barcelona, then to Amsterdam. That was probably the last dream vacation we took, about four years ago. The rest of the trips have been to Bend, wine country, Walla Walla. I like to cook. We make paella, Italian food, chicken piccata. I do a lot of walking on the different trails in Portland. I used to run, but not anymore.”


“The first job I had was in college working for the McMinnville News-Register. The most interesting and the worst job was being a telephone operator down in Oakland. It was interesting because the calls were very different. But I got some creeps, as well. At Cascade Centers, we support the well being of thousands of employees and their families through counseling and other resources.”


“For me this has been a great ride. I was the first in my family to graduate from high school, the first to go to college, the first to get a master’s degree. Like many of my peers in my community, we are the first. Our parents were not doctors, lawyers or corporate executives. With that comes a learning curve. Now we’re trying to share our learning with the next generation of leaders coming up.”


“I come from a blue-collar background. My mother was a factory worker; she worked for Perky Pies, which makes turnover pies. My father delivered propane. My mother didn’t want me to work as a kid. She had to work when she was 13, picking cotton in Texas. She swore that was something I was not going to do. So education was very important to her. Education, as we all know, is a life-changer.”


Correction: This article has been amended to correct where Castillo's mother picked cotton. It was in Texas, not California.


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