50 Beautiful Mothers: Kimberly

50 Beautiful Mothers was a yearly campaign by Beauty Revived to showcase women who were doing amazing things in their communities. Fifty photographers were chosen from around the country, who were then responsible for finding and photographing the mothers. Each wrote a short biography of their subject, which was published along with their images in a magazine.

“If I’m at the table, I’m going to make a difference.” Kimberly Porter is making a difference at a lot of tables. She has an explicit mission to improve life not just for individual women and families, but in a systemic way that creates a legacy for women of color in Oregon to be healthier, and to be lifted up in community. The colleague who nominated Kimberly for this campaign noted that, “She is driven and unapologetic in her support for underserved families.”

Kimberly holds three degrees: BA’s in Psychology and Sociology, and a Master’s of Clinical Social Work. It’s no surprise, then, that she has used her extensive education to help people for so long and in so many ways. Her mom was a wonderful role model growing up; Kimberly joked that she was like the black Mary Tyler Moore—a career-oriented woman who worked in upper management in corporate America, at a time when not many women, and especially black women, were able to do that. Clearly that is where Kimberly got her drive and motivation, knowing that she could do anything. She has taken that to heart to be fearless and determined in her own career (which inspires others too). She says that she doesn’t know how to *not* do. Doing a lot, helping people, is just what she does!

Kimberly worked in clinical social work and as a parent/child psychotherapist in Michigan before she moved to Oregon. In 2014, she joined the Black Parent Initiative, whose tagline is Excellent Parents, Exceptional Children. As Director of Early Childhood and Parent Engagement, she provides culture-specific support, resources, parenting classes, and cultural literacy. Through this work, she helps families learn more, grow more, and develop healthier ways of living. Again, she is affecting not just individuals, but an entire community.

Kimberly wants to address the racial and socioeconomic gaps in health care, to bridge communities together, to help people improve their lives. One of her personal missions is intentionally creating a circle of care of black health care providers. This builds trust in the medical system, and increases health and support among black women and families, and this effort lifts up the whole community.

Kimberly also became a labor and post-partum doula in 2014. She provides culture-specific childbirth education for women of color—not just African-American women, but also Latina women and African women. She recognizes that not everyone has the budget for extra care and support from doulas, nor the same knowledge base to even know what a doula is! So she’s been working to train and hire more black doulas, as well as get black doulas registered in the Oregon Health Plan doula registry. That allows low-income families to receive that important birth and post-partum support, which creates healthier children and families, as well as allowing the doulas to be paid and earn a living wage, which improves their economic value and standing in the black community.

Kimberly knows that change needs to come from within the system: raising awareness of myriad health issues, educating people of color, elevating fellow black women as role models, and of course educating other health care providers about the specific needs of women of color and their families. With BPI and as a doula, she is working to improve lives on a systemic level. She wants to create a legacy, and pass the torch to other women to continue building and expanding this vital work. “You can’t be what you can’t see,” as she says, so she is visible in her communities, blazing a trail of education and inspiration.

Kimberly is an Adjunct Professor for Portland State University, teaching Introduction to Infant Toddler Mental Health in the Graduate School of Education. She sits on the boards of two organizations: the Northwest Area Childbirth Educators Forum & Oregon Infant Mental Health Advisory Board, and she is the Diverse Communities Chair for the Oregon Doula Association.

She has a grown son, and a teenage daughter who loves books and competitive cheerleading. In her (very limited!) spare time, Kimberly loves reading, drinking tea, and spending time at the Oregon Coast with her daughter.

Kimberly says, “Over the course of the years as I have matriculated into my womanhood, I have been intentional and thoughtful in exposing myself to the wisdom of elder women and mentors in the various communities in which I have lived. I have learned to be honest, vulnerable and most importantly open to new experiences. Being a career woman and a single mother has been a challenging journey, but the best job that I have ever had. I hope to inspire other woman and mothers that they too can have a great career and be there as a loving support and foundation for their families.”