About You and I
Kheoshi Owens, MBA, Founder of Empress Rules
My name is Kheoshi Owens, and I am a North Portland native and the Founder of Empress Rules. This organization is named for my daughter because as a mother, I want my daughter to be seen, heard and validated for all that she is. Her race, gender or ability should not be a determinate factor of her success or anyone else's.
My passion for equity began at the young age of 19 when my partner was brutally murdered in front of me. I wanted to hate the person who killed my partner, but instead, I began to wonder, "How did this person get to the point that they could take a precious life so easily?" I wanted to do everything that I could to prevent that experience from happening to anyone else.
I dedicated my life to social justice and promoting equity for our most vulnerable populations. I believe that every person deserves to be seen, heard, and validated. I have worked to promote equity with disadvantaged communities for close to 20 years now.
I matched over 270 youth with mentors in the community. At Opens School NW, I worked with over 1,000 students, and under my leadership, we successfully closed the racial achievement gap for kids of color, transforming the Roosevelt Step Up program from 60% on track to graduate to over 90% on track to graduate for 3 consecutive years. During my tenure, I became the Lead Equity Facilitator for Roosevelt High School and a primary resource for helping to train teachers to address their implicit bias. I worked with teachers to create culturally relevant curriculum and inclusive classrooms. I am a Portland Community College Diamond Alumni and currently sit on the Council for Racial and Economic Equity for Prosper Portland.
As a black woman and Portland Native, I received first hand experience of being displaced from my home and discriminated against in the work place. Though organizations benefited from my work, I did not feel seen heard, or validated. I know what it is like to look at Executive Leadership and have no one there who looks like me. I know what it feels like to not being "white enough."
These acts of implicit bias began to was challenge my mental health, and I began to seek out refuge and healing with other black women and communities of color. I began to notice that our stories sounded the same. Underemployment, cultural policing, and economic stagnation.
My mission is to stop this insanity though love; love of my community, and the love of empowering individuals and organizations who understand the importance of inclusiveness. I want to empower those who understand that we are better together. We are better when we invest in each other and are allotted the freedom to be our authentic selves. As my mentors and those who have come before me have invested in me in hopes of a brighter tomorrow, let me invest in you, and let us invest in each other. I want to see you, I want to hear you, I want you to know that you matter...