Kristy LaFollette

Business Development and Marketing

What do you do at CEI?

I lead business development and marketing as well as support our Operations team. I make a lot of people laugh when my computer freezes on a Zoom call and I’m making some kind of ridiculous-looking face.

What did you do prior to CEI?

Before moving to Portland in 2015, I spent most of my  years in California, where I was born. I started my career in the nightclub world, then moved into publishing, then got into tech as a project manager working with creative teams. I then moved into digital agency life where I worked with folks from non-profits, corporate, scrappy start-ups…I’ve been on a very broad career path to say the least. But with all of this, I was often frustrated in how none of the companies or clients I worked with talked about racism deeply because we all didn’t have the tools or leadership.

Why do you do this work?

Growing up in the 70’s as a white kid in a mostly white community, I reflect on how many forms of oppression both manifested and were constantly reinforced, racism being absolutely one of the biggest problems. While I didn’t know it at the time, I participated in racist jokes, in the othering of peers who were not white and able, and all the other things kids like me do because we assume our space and we don’t know any better. I was taught to be “colorblind.” Later, as an adult living in San Francisco, I realized colorblindness was a lie, a false narrative. 

Why I do this work? Because white supremacy is REAL and it needs to finally, FINALLY be addressed so we can dismantle it. Generations are depending on us. I’ve been on this planet long enough to know if I’m not leaning in to change, it ain’t going to happen.

What do you believe?

I believe humans are generally more full of love than hate. I believe institutional racism will continue to exist as long as white people deny the reality of white supremacy. I believe people have the ability to change their heart and minds. I believe this is really, REALLY hard work. I believe in transformational change.

What is a question that guides your work?

Oh there are so many! 

For me always: “What I will I do today to dismantle racism?”