Metro Portland

Making a Bigger Impact, with OCF

Jackie Wirz, 43, Portland 

Community Grant evaluator 

As a nonprofit leader, Jackie Wirz knows the immense value of volunteers who contribute their time, talent and treasure. But treasure isn’t the most important item on that list, she says. 

“People always think that the way that people contribute to the economic success of a foundation or a nonprofit is through money. Dollars — that's what immediately comes to mind,” says Wirz, executive director of Donate Life Northwest, who volunteers as a Community Grant evaluator for the Oregon Community Foundation. 

“But in reality, the time and the talent is actually more important than the treasure. I think any executive director will agree with me on this. It is the gift of time that means so much more, because we are all busy. All of us have families, friends, jobs…there are so many asks on our time, and that time truly is the most precious commodity.”  

Wirz, who has a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology, connects personally to OCF’s effort to prioritize grant making to communities in Oregon most impacted by social, economic and racial injustices and inequities. That approach is crucial, she says, to removing barriers for people who haven’t had her opportunities, as the child of two college-educated parents who set the same expectation for her. 

“I am a bipolar minority woman in science. Every step along the way, there have been barriers that have made it a little bit more difficult to navigate that particular pathway. There are not overt problems every day — although some days there were those. But every day there have been microaggressions, little things that people say — even in the very supportive milieu that I grew up in, and I am extremely fortunate,” Wirz says.  

“There are so many systematic barriers that have been put into place after centuries of systemic racism that I feel at times overwhelmed about how I am going to make a difference,” How am I going to contribute to righting some of these wrongs and to making sure that every Oregonian has the opportunity to succeed and flourish in their community?” 

“I know OCF makes a bigger impact than I can by myself. Being a Community Grant evaluator was a really easy thing for me to say yes to, because I know that the work and effort that I put in makes a real and important difference in our lives as Oregonians.” 

Jackie Wirz is a volunteer featured in the story A Gift Beyond Measure: OCF Volunteer Impact.