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Meet Cara Rothe, BA '13
Meet Cara Rothe, BA '13

Cara graduated from Portland State University’s School of Business Administration in June 2013 with a bachelor’s of science degree in business after leading her team in their final business strategy capstone project. The business capstone is a strategy and consulting course that challenges students to apply all of their business coursework by solving a real business problem for a local organization. A month after Cara graduated, her capstone client, First Congregational United Church of Christ of Portland, called her to offer her a position as the Director of Marketing and Community Relations of the organization, where she is currently serving in that role.

Cara’s honesty, boldness and ambition to embrace change left an impression on the 163-year old organization. Her capstone team identified that the church wasn’t effectively promoting the use of their most visible asset—an iconic space in the heart of Downtown Portland—to generate additional revenue.

“We heard very good things about PSU’s Capstone program and decided to get involved. Our main request was help in increasing revenue so that we could restore our historic building and make updates in order to increase rental revenue and increase overall community use. Cara’s team decided to focus on three main tasks; evaluate management/decision-making structure, assess current marketing/branding, and analyze the financial stability of the church.”

After hearing the final presentation, the church was certain that Cara was capable of bringing in much-needed revenue for the church and created the marketing position per her suggestion as proposed in the team’s final paper. Using business concepts learned in her business courses, such as change theory, Cara is now putting theory to practice and steering the organization to implement other ideas she proposed.

“Since starting on September 1st, Cara has been making the church building more marketable in the event/space rental market of Portland. She has helped the congregation to repurpose church space, and is also helping us to move forward on her idea to sublease some of our office space. She has been integral in the planning and execution of that plan. Cara is also improving the accounting system and making sure that all building rentals are reconciled correctly. As of December 1st, Cara is the new supervisor of facilities and event staff. This will allow her to better improve quality of events and reduce costs. We are thrilled with Cara’s expertise, cooperative, and caring manner while working with ministers, paid staffs, and lay leaders.”

Why study business?

There has always been a place in Cara’s heart for organizations who serve the most vulnerable in the community. She decided to go back to school to study social work so that she could serve in one of these social service agencies. However, her college advisor at the time said, “If you really want to help nonprofits, get a business degree,” so Cara took her first BA 101 course, fell in love with the subject and went on to graduate with honors, all while working full-time.

In addition to her role at the First Congregational Church of Christ, Portland, Cara founded her own nonprofit in 2008, called Holiday Hopes in Recovery, which brings stockings, presents, and holiday parties to women and men in residential drug and alcohol treatment. She serves on the Community Nonprofit Resource Group (CNRG) board of directors as well as the development committee of DePaul Treatment Centers. She also volunteers for Volunteers of America as a fundraiser and as a management consultant and is on her sixth year as executive director of Holiday Hopes in Recovery.

To learn more about Business Capstone projects at the School of Business, visit the capstone website.