Jessica Carrillo Alatorre is the Executive Director of Hike it Baby. She has been an active participant in Hike it Baby since she joined with her firstborn child, Natalie, in the summer of 2014. She and her husband, Chris, had moved to Portland, Oregon while Jessica was five months pregnant. Once Natalie was born, Jessica started attending her hospital’s new mom group. It was there that she heard about Hike it Baby and decided to check it out.
Finding Community with Hike it Baby
She followed the Facebook group briefly before gaining the courage to join a hike specifically for new moms. At the hike, she met some of the original Portland hiking crew, including Hike it Baby Founder, Shanti Hodges. Jessica was hooked. She loved getting outside with her daughter. Jessica had grown up loving the outdoors, and this was something she always wanted to pass on to her kids. Now, she had found a group to help her do just that. Additionally, she found a community and connection in a new town as a new mom. Everyone was super nice and welcoming!
Jessica became more involved with the Hike it Baby group when there was a post that caught her attention. Shanti’s husband had left for his 3-week work shift in Alaska, and Shanti was sick alone at home with her young son, Mason. Shanti needed help with her son so she could get rest and recover. Jessica saw that Shanti lived nearby and offered to take Mason to a local park for a few hours. Jessica and Shanti’s friendship grew and Shanti shared with Jessica her dreams for the future of Hike it Baby. Shanti was getting ready to launch an Indiegogo fundraiser to raise money to support the organization. Jessica happily brainstormed business ideas for different rewards and ways to get people excited to crowdfund. Soon, Jessica became a part of the main group of Hike it Baby volunteers, picking up whatever jobs needed to be done, organizing volunteers, and helping Shanti plan the future.
Hike it Baby’s Growth
As the organization grew, spreading into new cities and states, getting more of a following on social media, and encouraging more families to hike, Jessica and Shanti continued working to create a structure for the organization. There was a concentrated group of key volunteers, and eventually, staff members who supported the work and shared the load.
Jessica started putting Natalie into daycare so she could focus more time and energy on Hike it Baby’s needs. She took on the title of Operations Manager, even though she was still volunteering her time. Together, Jessica and Shanti were building an organization that welcomed parents to work with their kids in the background. Calls often had a crying baby or screaming toddler asking for more snacks. But everyone made room, welcoming and supporting the juggling act that parenthood required.
Building a Non-Profit Organization
In 2016, HiB made the decision to transition the organization to a nonprofit. A broader leadership team and a small board of directors were assembled. Jessica served as the Board Secretary in addition to her role as Operations Manager. She also went back to school to finish earning her bachelor’s degree. She had found a program for Management and Organizational Leadership that was a good fit for the work she was doing at Hike it Baby. Additionally, she was pregnant with her second daughter, Elisabeth! The challenges of juggling multiple roles and responsibilities were sometimes stressful, but Jessica felt more fulfilled than she had before. She had a clear purpose with Hike it Baby and a drive to see it succeed.
Transitioning to the Executive Director Role
In 2017, just a few months after Elisabeth was born, Jessica graduated with her bachelor’s degree from George Fox University. She continued to support Hike it Baby through growth and transition as the leadership team shifted and new people stepped up. In 2018, after a lot of careful consideration, Shanti made it clear that she didn’t feel her place was at the head of the organization as Executive Director. She wanted to help with the long term vision and strategy development and handle less of the day to day responsibilities.
That following summer, Jessica stepped out of her board role and into an interim Executive Director role. Shanti continued as board President. In June of 2019, Jessica was given the Executive Director role as a permanent position. Shanti began to scale back even more in an effort to focus on her family and Mason’s developing needs as they began to identify his neurodiverse nature while preparing for public school transitions.
Jessica is someone who brings a long history with the organization and a proven record of stable leadership, team management, and adaptability. Shanti often describes her as the backbone of Hike it Baby. She has spent a lot of her time behind the scenes, but as she has taken on her Executive Director role, she is stepping into the forefront and leading the organization with passion, dedication, calmness, and balance. Both the board and the staff have a lot of faith in Jessica and look to her to carry Hike it Baby forward into the future as the organization grows.
Jessica lives in Beaverton, OR, just outside of Portland. She and her husband Chris have two beautiful daughters, Natalie (born in 2014) and Elisabeth (born in 2017). They also have a Great Pyrenees dog named Oberon (king of the fairies!). As a family, they love hiking the mountain trails near home and adventuring in the Columbia Gorge to explore waterfalls. When they can, they also enjoy visiting the beaches of San Diego, where Chris grew up, and the redwoods along the coast of southern Oregon where Jessica grew up. Even though she’s the youngest and the smallest, Beth is the biggest hike champion of the family, asking “We go on a hikeababy?” regularly.