Volume XIII | Issue 2 | Fall 2013
After graduation from the University of Oregon in 2011, Josh Savey of Reedsport worked for Oregon state Sen. Joanne Verger, D-Coos Bay.

A town leader at age 15

Josh Savey began holding leadership positions in Reedsport while still in high school

Myanmar, formerly Burma, is in the news a lot now as its democratic reforms open it up to the world. Nearby in Bangkok, Thailand, Reedsport native Josh Savey, is working as a law clerk. He's helping clients investigate the feasibility of investing in Myanmar businesses.

Savey was heavily involved in improving his school.

Savey, who will return to law school at Willamette University in the fall for his final year, is no foreigner to projects requiring capital and research, albeit on a much smaller scale. As a high school student in Reedsport, Savey was heavily involved in improving his school.

Though Savey is many miles and several years away from his hometown, he is still missed for his involvement and leadership. 

“His leaving for college in 2011 was felt by many groups, and those groups are still trying to find ways to fill in the gaps,” says Kathleen Miller, who worked with Savey on several projects. 

Need to be busy

“Much of my volunteer spirit is driven by a need to be busy,” Savey says. 

He remembers the volunteer projects in his high school usually drew more girls than boys. “Certain projects draw more men,” he says, citing sports and buildings as bigger draws for male volunteers.

During his time at Reedsport High School, Savey served in several leadership positions, including student body president. One of his duties was keeping the antiquated reader board current with school events, a task that required hanging each letter individually. Replacing the reader board was something previous student governments had attempted, but it kept “bogging down,” Savey recalls. 

Once he learned first hand how tedious the task was, Savey decided it was time to move the stalled project forward. He helped the student council solicit money. “Now it’s a digital reader board that can rotate through several events instead of just getting changed once a week,” he says. “It’s become a community posting place.”

And if something is going on in Reedsport, it often happens in the school’s Pacific Auditorium. Renovations of the event hall began in 2004, and Savey played a role in that overhaul, too. 

Community members and school staff encouraged the then-high school sophomore to get involved with Reedsport’s first cohort of the Ford Institute Leadership Program. The group chose the auditorium renovation as its project. Savey had helped put on shows in the theater since sixth grade and knew the facility’s problems. 

A center point for Reedsport

“It’s a center point for all activities, like large meetings, high school plays and musical performances,” he says.

After he turned 18, Savey was selected as the president of the non-profit organization Coastal Douglas Arts and Business Alliance, a group formed to promote and maintain the newly renovated facility. Kathleen Miller, CDABA’s current president, says Savey led a group of adult volunteers well.

“The most unique thing about Josh as a CDABA leader and community volunteer was his youth,” she says. “Josh garnered respect from all the adults he encountered.”

Since leaving Reedsport, Savey has continued to actively volunteer. A 2007 Ford Scholar, Savey earned a political science degree from the University of Oregon in 2010. 

After graduation, Savey worked for state Sen. Joanne Verger, D-Coos Bay, from January 2011 through May 2012. This year he worked at Willamette University’s Business Law Clinic, which helps start-up businesses. He chose clients who were beginning nonprofits.

“It was great to get back into that mindset. I understand nonprofits from my work with CDABA,” he says, adding that he hopes to offer similar help to such organizations in the future.  

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