Meet a Nasty Woman: 5 Questions with Charlene Quaresma

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Charlene Quaresma is a Nasty Woman and Financial Advisor with Northwestern Mutual in Portland, Oregon. Her mission as a Financial Advisor is to inspire her clients to dream courageously and live with purpose.  As a woman in financial services, she represents less than 30% of Financial Advisors that are female.  When she began her career, women only made up 8% of all advisors. (so, there is progress!)  Though her journey was difficult and lonely, it has been an incredibly rewarding career and wanted to give back.  She became a director a couple of years ago and now mentors and develops other diverse advisors. 

Charlene got into finance in honor of her mother’s struggle with Parkinson’s Disease.  Her parents, both immigrants, are her why and she wanted to give back to her community as a tribute to her family and all the opportunity that they had afforded her.  Charlene facilitates a support group for Parkinson’s patients and their care-partners for Parkinson's Resources of Oregon and sits on the board for the Brian Grant Foundation, started by the former Portland Blazer who was diagnosed with early onset PD at age 36. Charlene is also only the board for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls which helps gender expansive youth find their voice and learn to take up space. Read our interview with her here.

What makes you a Nasty Woman?

I have always used art as a form of protest.  Last year, I produced an 18-month fiscal calendar called Finance, Fashion and Feminism. The project featured the rich photography and styling of local badass women, while also sharing the history of women’s financial freedom (and lack thereof) in America.  I think it’s important to understand the past in order to own your present.  Only then, can the future really be female.  Whether it’s using comedy to challenge media messaging or cheeky costuming while marching in the streets in protest, being a nasty woman is about taking risks and fighting for justice.

Share an experience that shaped your views or helped get you involved in activism.

As someone who identified as goth in high school, I graduated one year before the mass shooting at Columbine.  Watching the debates on CSPAN, I was disheartened that Congress was debating Marilyn Manson, video games and the “Trench Coat Mafia” versus bullying, gun violence and access to weapons and instead demonized people that looked like me.  Since then, there have been so many mass killings and no real gun reform but that singular event was my entrance into politics.  Later that year in November of ’99, I participated in the WTO protests in Seattle and was later arrested for protesting the IMF and World Bank in DC in April of 2000.  Feeling that my street protests in opposition to the War in Iraq was not going to elicit the massive change I was hoping to, I decided to produce a television show on public access to shake up media messaging.  It was a Fox News parody (well before the Colbert Report).  I wanted to help people think more critically about how mass media was shaping and selling viewpoints rather than informing the public.  It still blows me away that the news’ pundits refer to Americans as “consumers” versus “citizens.”  Put simply, activism is a way of life for me.  I feel it is our duty as Americans to educate and empower each other to help shape the world we want to see.

What advice do you have for people who want to help enact change and push progress but don’t know how to get involved?

Choose the causes that you believe in and connect with others that believe in those too.  Find your tribe.  Educate yourself.  Figure out who your representatives are, both locally and federally. Tell them what you want them to do with whatever is on their docket.  Also, share your voice and gratitude when they do the right thing too! 

If you could look into the future, 10 years from now, and see that real progress has been made, what does that look like to you?

I want to see women and minorities have proportionate representation on boards and leadership positions both in the corporate world and government.  I want there to be some equity and balance for our citizens that need help and assistance.  I want to see more investments in those that need help versus only catering to the top, in our schools, job programs, food and health assistance.

Share with us a favorite wine memory, bottle or pairing.

As the daughter of Portuguese immigrants, I have always been a fan of Port.  My grandfather was a winemaker back in the Azores.  I remember being a kid and helping with the harvest.  In the movies, they stomp on the grapes with their bare feet.  Though romantic, that’s not how we did.  We did stomp on the grapes, but it was with rainboots! Some of my favorite memories of my grandfather was making wine with him the summer of 1989 on the island where my parents emigrated from, Pico.

Considering a Financial Advisor to help you achieve your goals? Connect with Charlene here.

Emily Davis