Name: Connor Reiten
Years attended FAIS: 2001–2005
High School: Jesuit High School
College: University of Portland
Major/Minor: Political Science / Communications
Occupation: Government Affairs Manager at NW Natural
What have you been up to since graduating from FAIS?
I have a hard time staying too far away from FAIS. A few years after graduating middle school, I returned to coach the middle school basketball and track teams. Coach Ron and I have continued coaching together for the last 13 years.
Outside of FAIS, I attended Jesuit High School and the University of Portland before getting started working in Oregon politics. I worked for several political campaigns, for Senator Jeff Merkley, and with a public affairs firm before landing in energy advocacy. I am now based out of Salem, Oregon while working in NW Natural’s Government Affairs Department.
How has language immersion benefited you long-term?
I didn’t come to FAIS until middle school and French did not come easily to me when I first arrived. The experience of working through those academic challenges is one thing that set my experience apart at Gilkey. When the teachers recognized that I was struggling, they put together a team that included the head of the middle school, Emmanuelle Burk, to help me improve.
I don’t have as many opportunities to speak French. However, I still understand enough to be consistently reminded of the efforts put in by the School to help me succeed. The cultural piece of language immersion is also something that sticks with me. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of a multilingual and multicultural community that offered exposure to different cultures and perspectives.
What are some of your fondest FAIS memories?
Many of my best memories at FAIS are from my experience coaching. The opportunity to get to know the students and work on the athletics team with Ron Thomas and Jonathan Mascaut have been a highlight of my experience at FAIS.
I also have wonderful memories from my time as a student. FAIS was and is such a close knit community, but it was so quick to make me feel welcomed as a newcomer in middle school. The opportunity to go on a trip each year (outdoor school, Seattle, and the international trip) was critical in building and growing that community.
People may not know this, but you’re our first-ever alumni member on the Board of Trustees! Would you share a little about your experience so far?
It was an honor to be asked to serve on the FAIS Board of Trustees starting last year. The 2019-2020 school year did not lack for challenges, but we have an outstanding team leading the School through these unprecedented times. Their expertise made the transition to the board much easier! Head of School, Scott Hardister, and his team are the right group of people to guide us through this initial turbulence and into the future.
If someone were to ask you why FAIS is special, what would you tell them?
FAIS is a top-notch academic institution with a unique international focus. FAIS is where I learned to be an effective communicator, especially through writing. The academics put me and my classmates firmly ahead of our peers in high school and beyond. Those skills are still easily identifiable today.
I could go on about the academic program at FAIS. However, what really makes the School special is the community. Being on campus is a special feeling that can’t be replicated elsewhere, and I’m excited for my kids to feel what it’s like to be a part of this community.
You and your wife have a soon-to-be-preschooler. Not to put you on the spot, but should we expect to see a second generation Reiten at FAIS?
Work has my wife and I stationed in Salem, Oregon at the moment. We hope to make it back in time for Elin to join the kindergarten class, but we are certain she will make it for middle school and be a Gilkey grad one day!