Libra Forde: A Beacon for Change

“I try to find the ones that I can’t hear, because those are the ones that need it the most.”


NCSD School Board Chair Libra Forde

Cassandra Roshu, Senior Reporter

We live in a world decorated with incredible and historic mountains. From Mount Fuji in Japan and Mount Everest in Nepal to Mount Hood in our own backyard, a multitude of driven adventurists face their summits with courage, ambition, and an eye for a life worth living. Then there are the other kinds of incredible and historic mountains, like Mount Hope, Mount Passion, Mount Equality, and Mount Justice. Mountains which we not only have tried to summit but which people like Libra Forde dedicate their lives towards moving.

Born and raised in Harlem, New York, Forde has always had a heart for justice. As a child, she was incredibly quiet at school; the only moment that Forde found a passion for words was when she was faced with injustice, whether it was standing up for herself or somebody else. As Forde grew up, she indulged in a life of travel, from going to college in Boston to playing professional basketball in Italy, to eventually living in Hawaii, where she opened the first hybrid charter school in the state. 

As the mother of a military family, the early hour calls to her children’s father and school made her schedule tiring and stressful. Her heart behind making a hybrid learning system accessible came from the desire to make schooling easier for other military families, but she soon came to realize that it also aided other groups of learners, like surfers who need the freedom to catch the best waves of the day and those who have a long commute to school. In an interview, Forde explains how many Hawaiian students often drop out during the fourth grade because their families cannot handle the hours-long trip anymore. 

Not only has Forde made a forever-lasting difference in Hawaii, but she has made one in the Clackamas and Portland communities as well. As the Chief Operating Officer for Self Enhancement Incorporated, a company that focuses on the success of students of color, Forde plays a role in helping 7,000 kids to have the resources they need to be high achievers and providing housing support, violence protection, food security, and after-school programs for anti-learning loss, talents, and gifts. Furthermore, she works as a member of the North Clackamas School District School Board, which currently works hard to create a positive Comprehensive Distance Learning environment for students in the North Clackamas District. 

The COVID-19 global pandemic has not only made Forde’s job more challenging but all the more fulfilling. “None of us signed up for a pandemic,” Forde says. “The work is hard because it’s worth it.” 

 She is a woman that finds opportunity through trials and never stops looking for breath in situations that seem lifeless. Comprehensive Distance Learning has been a difficult experience for many students and teachers. However, it has come with its benefits as well. Forde points to the fact that she has never seen this many families on the streets together and that anxiety levels have drastically decreased since online learning has been implemented. The educational model has also been a huge help in discovering new ways to teach that will continue to be applied once in-person again, like incorporating games such as Roblox into the elementary classroom and funding the access of take-home Chromebooks to students in need.

The pandemic and educational situation that our community is facing has also shined the light on issues like home violence and racial inequality that normal life did an exceptional job of hiding. Forde believes that the key to change is to inform and teach the next generation to become one full of activists and peacemakers. She loves to speak and think in analogies, explaining how every generation builds more soldiers and that justice is an army of hope. With every movement, new soldiers join the army. And eventually the mountain of peace will move; not with one big shove, but with one grain of sand at a time. 

An action-based leader, compassionate listener, beacon for the unheard, and voice for the voiceless, Libra Forde has fought for a better world from the day she was born and will die being known for the many grains of sand that she helped shift towards a better tomorrow.