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The Oregon SBDC Network Honors Women’s History Month

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The Oregon SBDC Network Honors Women’s History Month

The Oregon Small Business Development Center Network is proud to honor Women’s History Month by inviting you to meet some of our inspiring and innovative Center directors serving Oregon’s small businesses.

Tammy Marquez-Oldham, Portland Community College SBDC

With a background in the education, healthcare, software, and food industries, Tammy Marquez-Oldham pairs her extensive business acumen with a vision of providing the highest level of business education and advising possible for the Network’s clients as the director of the SBDC at Portland Community College. Through the years, Tammy has spearheaded several initiatives for the Oregon SBDC alongside various collaborators and partners including:


Tammy co-founded the Oregon SBDC Network’s Capital Access Team (CAT) with Noah Brockman, who now leads the CAT. The CAT helps small businesses identify the right source and use of capital through planning and loan package development. Its experienced advisers understand and leverage multiple forms and sources of capital, sometimes beyond traditional lending, in order to support the many small businesses they serve. The CAT celebrated its 10th year in 2022. It has helped more than 2,500 small businesses in Oregon successfully access more than $255 million in capital since its founding.


The Oregon SBDC Network’s Global Trade Center is the only one of its kind in the state of Oregon and was co-founded by Tammy and Global Trade Center liaison and senior adviser David Kohl. An initiative that took 11 years to develop, the Center celebrated its fifth year in 2022. This NASBITE-accredited Center offers trade assistance and advising for new-to-export-level small businesses. It has two training programs: the Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP) and Buying and Selling Outside the U.S. for small businesses.


The Getting Your Recipe to Market program was founded in the fall of 2006 to help small-business food entrepreneurs learn how to take their food recipe or product from idea to commercial-ready prototype. Tammy co-founded this program with the then–executive director of the Food Innovation Center, Jill Beaman; OSU staff; and members of the Portland Community College SBDC team. In partnership with the Food Innovation Center and New Seasons Market, the program has supported the development of more than 450 food entrepreneurs over 15 years. Beaman leads the program today.


The Restaurant Business Builders program supports the needs of restaurateurs in the early stage of development by providing instruction from top chefs in Portland. The program was developed in tandem with Leslie Hildula and is currently led by Dr. Sean Harry with support from lead adviser and organizer Terry Long.


The Business Design Series tailors a curriculum for businesses within their first year of operation, led by Jackie Babicky-Peterson. For businesses in their first through third years of operation, Business Builders provides specialized training and advising from Kim Allchurch-Flick. Together, they ensure that small businesses have the essential training, resources, and knowledge required for growing a healthy business.


For business owners who are growing and expanding their businesses, the Advanced Small Business Management Program provides them with experienced subject matter expert trainers and advisers. This program, led by Dr. Sean Harry, has been sponsored by the Portland Business Alliance, funded by Bank of America, for the past 10 years.


One of the latest developments for the Oregon SBDC Network is the addition of its newest Center in Columbia County, which is the network’s 20th regional SBDC offering core business advising services and the 21st location in the state of Oregon.

The Columbia Economic Team, a private/public economic development organization serving Columbia County, initially launched the initiative to form the Business Resource Center and SBDC after filling grant-making and other small-business assistance gaps during the pandemic and economic downturn.

When Tammy was approached by Columbia Economic Team (CET) Executive Director Paul Vogel to support the initiative, she helped to provide the framework of the language and culture to the concept and resulting plan. With her guidance and the help of many state and local partners and investors, the Center was able to engage full local support in just nine months.

In addition to her leadership at the Portland Community College SBDC, the Centers and programs for which Tammy has helped to design and secure funding have impacted thousands of small-business clients throughout her 15 years of service at the Oregon SBDC Network.

Tammy attributes the success of the Center and its programs to an extraordinary team. This includes program specialist Yevette Johnson, client service coordinator Sharon Quillen, business advisers, training facilitators, community partners, Portland Community College, and the Oregon SBDC Network.

“Together with Team is how we serve small businesses,” she said. “Together we are stronger!”

Ruth Swain, Rogue Community College SBDC

Rogue Community College SBDC Director Ruth Swain is passionate about supporting people and organizations to achieve their vision and goals. She is a small-business champion and award-winning marketing and design expert who has supported entrepreneurs in business growth for more than 30 years.

In her position at Rogue Community College SBDC, Ruth leads a team of advisers whose combined business ownership and management knowledge offers valuable guidance to small-business owners. In recent years, Rogue SBDC has performed in the top five Centers supporting capital access, number of clients served, new business starts, and robust training programs. She also leads a team of advisers in the Illinois Valley satellite office, which features a fully equipped commercial kitchen in support of founding food product makers.


Prior to serving as director at Rogue, Ruth served as interim director of the Mt. Hood SBDC, where she founded and led the Oregon SBDC Network’s statewide Cybersecurity program.

Cybersecurity attacks on small businesses are a grave and growing issue. Criminal activity today quickly evolves along the digital landscape to affect every aspect of technology involving communication: the web as well as telephone, Bluetooth, and electronic devices. Key cybersecurity practices are simple, but many businesses know little about safety measures.

The aim of the Cybersecurity program is to offer educational awareness for businesses at different levels through workshops; training; and no-cost, one-on-one advising sessions.

Ruth led the project management of developing the program. This included teaching, conducting workshops, creating training materials, and matching small businesses with cybersecurity interns to teach principles and practices of cybersecurity in this increasingly important aspect of safeguarding small businesses.

Ruth has also served in the following capacities to further cybersecurity awareness for Oregon small businesses:

  • Appointed co-chair of the America’s SBDC Cybersecurity Interest Group
  • Represented Oregon SBDC’s Cybersecurity program and conducted certification program training at America’s SBDC national conference
  • Presented on cybersecurity and workforce at University of Illinois Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI)
  • Implemented the first statewide Small Business Cybersecurity Survey
  • Led the Network’s small-business franchising program, FranFit
  • Provided legislative testimony on small-business franchising to the Oregon House Interim Committee on Business and Labor


Ruth’s leadership has extended beyond the Oregon SBDC Network. Prior to joining the Oregon SBDC, she helped to raise millions of dollars in grants for organizations such as the City of West Richland’s Community and Economic Development, served as the vice president for advancement at the Columbia Basin College, and was part of the leadership team to found a new medical school at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, Washington. She has also been a multi-time recipient of the Rotary International Paul Harris Award for “Service Above Self.” She volunteers to help disadvantaged youth, women, and children around the world suffering from poverty and domestic violence.

“Sharing positive ideas, energy, and encouraging others who have a dream is the most rewarding thing on the planet!” Ruth said. “Most of us just need a bit of insight to take the steps toward success.”

Kat Rutledge, Klamath Community College SBDC

Native Oregonian Kat Rutledge holds two positions in support of small-business owners, entrepreneurs, and those who want to be. She is the director of the Klamath Community College SBDC, where she leads a team in providing technical advice and training to the rural small-business communities of Klamath and Lake County. And she’s the director of Klamath IDEA, a community initiative focused on developing a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Klamath County.

The KCC SBDC is the only small business technical service provider in nearly 15,000 square miles. It serves as a go-to resource for practical training and no-cost, confidential business advising to entrepreneurs on the application of best practices for success and growth in business. In her almost nine years as the director Kat has grown the SBDC from a one-person operation offering only advising to a full center with standing classes for startups, as well as a Small Business Management Program for existing business owners who are ready to grow.


Meanwhile, Klamath IDEA works to foster an entrepreneurial culture through entrepreneurial ecosystem development. It builds a celebratory and supportive environment for entrepreneurs and outreach to connect entrepreneurs to the right resources at the right time. While closely aligned, the varied services provided through Klamath IDEA and the SBDC provide critical support to rural entrepreneurs. They have great impact when woven together.

Through her work with Klamath IDEA, Kat has been involved with the Rural Opportunity Initiative (ROI) since the program’s inception, when Klamath Falls was one of four communities initially funded. Business Oregon eventually expanded the program to 20 communities in the 2021–23 biennium. ROI continues to be one of the funding streams that supports Klamath IDEA’s efforts to grow and sustain a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Klamath IDEA has recently joined the Ford Family Foundation in the Growing Rural Oregon Program, in which Klamath was selected as one of four Oregon communities working on entrepreneurial ecosystem-building to receive support for up to five years. They have received funding from the Oregon Community Foundation and also receive support from Klamath County and the City of Klamath Falls.


Kat believes that entrepreneurial ecosystem-building provides an amazing economic development opportunity for rural places. Rather than spending time, money, and resources exclusively on “catching the big fish” to save the day, entrepreneurship is an approach that leverages the assets that already exist and helps to highlight the gaps needed to be filled in order to grow an economy from within.

“I’m so proud to have been a part of this approach in its infancy,” Kat said. She said she looks forward to watching the approach catch on more broadly at the state and philanthropic levels.

Prior to her current roles, Kat worked in HR and financial management in both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds. Following her departure from corporate America, she ventured into owning her own HR and conflict management consulting business. She is an Oregon Certified Economic Developer and serves as a member of the South Central Oregon Regional Solutions Regional Advisory Committee. Kat holds a degree in Business and Economics. She has taught at both the high school and community college level. Kat has been involved in Oregon’s collegiate innovation scene for eight years with Oregon Tech’s Catalyze Klamath Falls Challenge, InventOR, and as a founder of KCC’s Badger Venture. She serves on the Craft3 CDE Advisory Board, as well as the board of directors for Discover Klamath. As a lifelong rural Oregonian, she is a loud and proud rural advocate!

Lisa Woods, Umpqua Community College SBDC

When Lisa Woods saw an opening at the SBDC, she felt like someone wrote the job description specifically for her. Lisa spent 25 years as a small business owner in San Diego, where she and her husband owned a martial arts center that included childcare. With an MBA and a passion for teaching, she taught business courses at a local college in San Diego County, using her gift to simplify complex subjects and helping individuals navigate their own growth and find their passion. A native Oregonian, Lisa has welcomed the opportunity to return home to Roseburg to serve as director of the Umpqua SBDC and support small-business owners in attaining their life’s goals.

“Often as a business owner you’re working in your business all day long,” she said. “We’re here to help business owners and entrepreneurs learn how to work on their business—not just in their business.”


Though she joined the SBDC in January 2020, Lisa has not let the challenges of the pandemic get in the way of providing support to Douglas County businesses. One issue that the pandemic helped to highlight was the lack of childcare providers, particularly in rural areas. Though many people were providing childcare for their immediate network—many times out of necessity—they often were not approaching it as a business. That meant they couldn’t take advantage of the support being provided to small-business owners at the state and federal level.

When the Ford Family Foundation approached the SBDC regarding this need, Lisa jumped at the chance to create a program designed to help entrepreneurs reposition their existing childcare services as businesses. The innovative pilot program, a collaboration between Care Connections & Education and the Umpqua SBDC, and funded through the Ford Family Foundation, launched in February 2021 and successfully completed in January 2022.


Since returning to Oregon, Lisa has found many ways to serve her community. She joined the planning commission for the city of Sutherlin, where she currently serves as the chair. She is also on the city’s Urban Renewal Task Force. And she and her husband have opened a new martial arts studio as well as a church.

Whether it’s through helping to launch a business or teaching self-defense, Lisa’s passion to empower women permeates through the many facets of her life. She is excited to be a part of transforming lives and small businesses, one relationship at a time.

In addition to these Center directors who are helping to lead the way for small businesses, the entire Oregon SBDC Network is actively engaged in supporting small businesses to grow and thrive. Connect with your local SBDC at

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