Education advocate Penson recalls time at Lincoln

Tiffani Penson attended to Lincoln from 1984-87.
She currently works for the City of Portland.

Naim Hasan

Tiffani Penson attended to Lincoln from 1984-87. She currently works for the City of Portland.

As Tiffani Penson walked through the doors of Lincoln High School in 1984 on her first day of school, she was both excited and nervous. 

Before attending Lincoln, Penson attended kindergarten at OMSI and went to Catlin Gabel School and St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Going into freshman year, she was already familiar with Lincoln because she had friends who were seniors and knew others from her neighborhood who went there. 

“Fortunately, I had the opportunity to familiarize myself with the school in advance so I felt very comfortable in choosing Lincoln and knew I would be okay in that environment,” Penson said.  

Her most memorable experience from Lincoln includes her time on the varsity basketball team, which started her freshman year, where she met Kelly and Kerry Cress, who went on to be lifelong friends, and their coach, Jack Ryan. She still thinks about Ryan often.  

“Jack was gruff, honest, tough and resilient. He wasn’t afraid to let us know when we weren’t being our best and pushed us to be better,” Penson said.  

Penson, Kelly and Kerry Cress all have fond memories of being on the basketball team. 

Our freshman year we won every basketball game in the PIL and [went] on to play three more years on varsity with Coach Jack Ryan. Her dad Big John and my dad Scott Cress would come to every game to cheer us on,” said Kerry Cress.  

Penson took those memories and experiences from Lincoln to graduation and beyond. 

“I think [graduation] was one of the best celebrations and my first real feeling of accomplishing something big as I viewed it as the entire wrap up of 12 years of education,” said Penson. 

She now works for the City of Portland as Supplier Diversity Officer, serves as a member of the Portland Community College Board and manages the Minority Evaluator Program, Portland’s SummerWorks internship program and the We Are Better Together program. She strives to provide equal access to education, training and opportunities to all people.  


Kerry and Kelly Cress are very proud of Penson’s accomplishments. 

We love her for her kindness, compassion to all, funny sense of humor and the love that she shares with us for life and its journey. She is such a beautiful soul inside and out! [Our] friendship [of] 36 years is so special. I am very proud of Tiffani’s commitment to education, children, and our city!” said Kerry Cress. 

Penson is very thankful for her time at Lincoln. 

“Being in spaces that are different from the community in which you are used to forces you to learn to operate outside of your natural comfort zone, which is an acquired skill that is priceless,” she said. “I believe all of my schooling leading up to and including Lincoln contributed to my ability to always be comfortable no matter where I am and in any room I enter, and for that I am grateful.”

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