Hi, I’m Pamela J. Oakes, owner of The Profitable Nonprofit, a global business development company for purpose-driven, mission-minded, socially-innovative do-gooders, dedicated to changing the world! My mission is to ensure that those who want to change the world for good have the funding and resources to do so! As a Consultant, Speaker, Business Mentor, Trainer and Coach, I teach burgeoning nonprofit and social enterprises how to achieve funding sustainability so that instead of expending all their time and energy chasing down nickels and dimes, they can finally stop begging and get funded!
I am a true northwest native, born and raised in Seattle, Washington. This means I love hiking, biking, swimming, camping, walking, and just about any other “-ing” as long as I can be outside doing it! I am the second child and first girl sandwiched between two brothers with a sister bringing up the rear. I still chuckle to think that “definitely has her own mind” is a statement my mother wrote in a scrapbook to describe me…at age 2! Strong-willed, dogged-persistence, unwavering commitment…I guess I was always destined to be a future Lady-Boss!
My father owned his own real estate company, my paternal grandmother ran her own beauty parlor, my maternal grandfather & grandmother owned a restaurant, and my great-great grandfather had his own practice as a country doctor. You could say that I come by entrepreneurship naturally – it’s just in my blood!
I started my professional career in my father’s real estate company – flipping properties before “flipping” was even a thing! When the news magazine, US News and World Report wanted to feature me in article, I thought for sure I had finally hit my stride. But despite the accomplishment, there was still a longing that commercial success didn’t quite satisfy.
I have always been a firm believer in paying it forward especially when it comes to empowering women and children from disadvantaged populations or developing countries. In the late 90’s, I had the opportunity to participate in a humanitarian mission in Mexico. After volunteering in a children’s home, I was forever changed and I knew my life would somehow be defined by service to others.
It seems that once you are clear in which direction your path leads, it’s easier to see which actions and decisions draw you closer to or farther from that path. My path was leading me to Africa. For several years I worked consulting with the top 100 companies in South Africa. With my base in Johannesburg, I travelled extensively throughout the southern African countries conducting workshops and training seminars for government, corporate, faith-based and community agencies in the areas of Diversity, Affirmative Action, Employment Equity, Gender Equity, and Personal and Organizational Transformation.
Incredibly, I had the honor of shaking hands with Nelson Mandela and was even invited to a private audience with her royal highness, Queen LaMbikiza of Swaziland!
Once you know your purpose, all the resources, connections and relationships you need to fulfill it will be made available on that path. My free-time in Africa was often spent in rural townships and villages supporting local NGO’s and establishing and supporting self-empowerment initiatives.
It was actually during this time that I became better acquainted with the global work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. When I moved back home to America I knew exactly where it was I had to work!
I’ve been a business owner, mentor and passionate community volunteer for years and remain a spirited advocate for global issues of women and girls. However, having spent nearly 50 years nurturing a profession, I’m dedicating the next 50 to cultivating my passion. I’m busting into my toolkit loaded down with over a half-century of proven expertise and demonstrated experience in the fields of business entrepreneurship, leadership development, corporate training, professional speaking, mentoring, coaching, and project management and putting that collective wisdom to work for YOU!
In my grant making work with the largest philanthropic organization on the planet, I am on the front lines as billions of dollars are dispersed for social good to uplift the lives of the world’s poor. I absolutely love working with new nonprofits and individuals who are also passionate about changing the world. Yes, the problems are big and the odds are not in our favor, but to quote Paul Watson,
“I do what I do because it is the right thing to do. I am a warrior, and it is the way of the warrior to fight superior odds.”
I was once bitten by a lion while on safari in Africa. (true story...ask me about it sometime!)
I first travelled to Europe the summer after high school. It was on that trip that I contracted a life-long incurable ailment known as Wanderlust! I’ve only been to 30 countries so far…but still counting!
I LOVE jazz music. Smooth jazz, Latin jazz, Cuban jazz, Brazilian jazz…um…you get the picture!
While in Thailand, I wrapped a 120lb boa constrictor around my neck just for the photo opp! Note to self…NEVER do that again!!
I love good food. In fact, I will try just about anything at least once. My culinary exploits include crocodile, ostrich, warthog, zebra, mopane worms and jumping shrimp salad made with live shrimp…of course!
My favorite pastimes are scouring antique malls and collecting African-American art. If you ever see a car with a bumper sticker that says, “I brake for flea markets,” look close, it might be me!
I always wanted to be multi-lingual and still plan to learn Italian one of these days. I studied French in high school and college but lost much of it from lack of use! Nowadays, I only know just enough French to be dangerous!
I am a book person – no Kindle for me! – I love the smell and the feel of a REAL book. I can re-read the classics over and over. Despite my many moves, I have been carting around a beloved collection of leather-bound classic volumes for nearly 30 years!
I am passionate about empowering the powerless and giving voice to the voiceless. Nonprofit, charitable, humanitarian work is not just what I do, it is who I am and what sets my soul on fire!
Pamela J. Oakes, Managing Director of The Profitable Nonprofit, is a Fund Development expert helping small and emerging nonprofits achieve funding sustainability. Having worked successfully with organizations, nonprofits, foundations, universities, government and community organizations around the world, Pamela has personally underwritten/approved millions of dollars in grants and awards.
Pamela embarked on her nonprofit career while working in Johannesburg, South Africa as a corporate trainer. In this role she traveled extensively throughout the African countries of South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Nigeria and Zimbabwe conducting workshops and training seminars for government, corporate, community, and faith-based organizations in the areas of Employment & Gender Equity, Diversity, Affirmative Action, Change Management, Organizational Transformation, HIV/AIDS Awareness, and Personal Empowerment.
Upon returning from South Africa, Pamela worked for nearly a decade with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As a grant maker, her team worked to create a more equitable system to promote social mobility and economic development for low-income, underrepresented, student populations of color. Pamela remains a spirited advocate for the under-served and is passionate about ensuring that nonprofit and social impact enterprises who want to change the world for good, have the funding and resources to do so.
Pamela attended the University of Washington where she majored in Political Science. A native of Seattle, she enjoys travelling the globe, experiencing new cultures and collecting African-American art.