Amanda Manjarrez is the Director of Advocacy at Latino Network where she leads a department that oversees the organization’s policy advocacy agenda, leadership programs, and affiliated 501c4. Prior to joining Latino Network, Amanda worked as the Advocacy Director for the Coalition of Communities of Color based in Portland, Oregon. The CCC is an alliance of 19 culturally-specific organizations working to advance racial justice. She also spent the last decade developing campaign strategies and advocating for progressive causes in New Mexico.
Amanda has tackled critical issues to advance racial equity and improve the quality of life for people in the community. Originally moving to Portland to attend Lewis & Clark Law School, she is now an active member of the New Mexico State Bar. Before law school, Amanda served as Chief Strategist at the Center for Civic Policy where she led the organization’s advocacy initiatives and developed strategy for the NM Civic Engagement Table. She also managed electoral campaigns and has consulted with a variety of candidates in New Mexico on communications and public policy issues. She brings creative leadership and a deep commitment to promoting social justice in her community.
What is your Portland moment? Amanda’s Portland moment happened recently when she realized she was sitting in a Sunday brunch line prepared with a book in hand.
Angela "Angie" Harris: When you are talking about a “Worker Bee” you are talking about Mrs. Angela “Angie” Harris. Angie’s passion is the work she does throughout the community. She volunteers over 600+ hours a year with several community organizations.
Angie loves her community and is helping others. She currently serves as Vice President with the “Good in the Hood” Multi-Cultural Music & Food Festival. She is also Director of Administration for the Leisure Hour Jr Golf Program, working with 125 kids ages from 7 years to college. For National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA), she is the Vice President for the Portland Chapter. Angie serves on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Portfolio Project and served 6 years as PTA President at Boise-Eliot-Humboldt School. Angie is a part of her Church Site Council and is on the Ministry Commission.
Angie Harris started out as front-end manager at Safeway. After 8 years in 1997, she accepted a position working at City Hall in the Office of Commissioner Eric Sten as Commissioner Staff Representative. She worked on projects from overseeing Internship programs, assisting with securing art for last Thursday at City Hall and Coordinating City Hall Gatherings. During this time she also served as the main contact on the Affirmative Action Committee. In 2008 Angie was offered a job with the Portland Water Bureau and now is an Administrative Specialist II where she is working closely with the Bureau Director Managers and Supervisors performing various tasks and ensures that the Maintenance & Construction department is run in an effective manner. She oversees events and represents the Bureau as President on the Water Bureau’s Equity committee and Vice President and founding member of the Diverse and Empowered Employees of Portland (DEEP) which is an employee-driven organization offering Training and Education, Peer Support and the citywide Affinity Groups. Angie is known in the community and at her job for being a “go-getter” and likes to get things done.
Angie is the proud parent of three children Dominique, Xavier, and Jacquelyn. Angie and her husband Dennis spend a great deal of time supporting their children's education and attending all their extracurricular events. They both spend a great deal of time given back to their community.
What is my Portland Moment? When Good in the Hood Music & Food Festival had a threat brought to them two years ago. They thought we were going to shut the event down. Instead, people from all races and nationalities came together from the community, the media, pastors, kids, businesses, to your neighbors all, came out to support us. It showed unity and solidarity. It warmed my heart to have people come up to me and say I have your back! And stayed there with us for the entire three days. It was a beautiful site.
Chi Nguyen was born in Vietnam. She and her family immigrated to the U.S. in 1990 to seek political asylum. Her grandfather served as Colonel in the Army Rangers before being taken as a POW for fighting alongside the US. Chi graduated Valedictorian from Madison High School in Portland. She was awarded Oregon State University’s most prestigious award, the Presidential Scholarship which afforded her the ability to attend college. Chi majored in Business, minored in Visual Arts, and completed with an Honors Bachelor of Science. In 2004, Chi studied abroad in Norway at the University of Agder for her International Business option.
After working for five years in advertising and automotive industries, she received her MBA with honors from Willamette University. Her successful business today is a result of her thesis. Chi serves as Contributing Assistant Professor, part-time, at Willamette University, assisting MBA students with their own thesis projects. She is a major shareholder of two startups. AutoMedic is a car care delivery service to commercial fleets and busy professionals, founded in 2010. Zenchi LLC is a nutraceutical company that leverages the ancient wisdom of Oriental Medicine to deal with modern-day ailments.
With a heart for service, Chi was city councilor in King City before moving to the state’s Capital and was a charter member of Portland New Generations Rotary Club. She currently works as Interim Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO).
What is your Portland moment? My Portland moment was when I was a high school student in (then) the most diverse high school in the state, Madison High School. I was able to meet with (then) Mayor Vera Katz to discuss the needs of PPS students. In what another place, would high school youth have that level of access to elected officials of that level? Participatory civic engagement is the best way to shape democracy.
Dani Bernstein is currently the Executive Director of Multnomah County’s Office of Community Involvement. A graduate of Pomona College, their career began working as field staff for marriage equality campaigns, organizing for LGBTQ justice in California, New Jersey, and Oregon. Before joining Multnomah County, Dani also worked for the Oregon Bus Project, Basic Rights Oregon, and the Equity Foundation. In their volunteer time, Dani serves as Board Chair of the Basic Rights Oregon Equality PAC, as a mentor for Point Foundation, and as a board member for MRG Foundation.
What is your Portland moment? Celebrating June 26, 2015, Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage equality in Terry Schrunk Plaza, across from City Hall. I love that Portland has so many public spaces where we can be in community with one another and gather to celebrate, to demonstrate, and to have fun.
Dr. Alan DeLaTorre is a self-described “urban gerontologist” working as a Research Associate at Portland State University’s Institute on Aging where he coordinates PSU’s Senior Adult Learning Center and co-coordinates the Age-Friendly Portland and Multnomah County initiative. He is passionate about utilizing research to inform and advance community planning and livability for people of all ages and abilities.
Dr. DeLaTorre currently serves as the chair of the Age-friendly Design Committee for the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education and as the treasurer for the Oregon Gerontological Association. Past work in the community includes serving for six years on the Portland Commission on Disability, service on the Residential Infill Project Stakeholder Advisory Communities, as well as episodic projects in collaboration with the Bureaus of Planning and Sustainability, Water and Housing.
What is your Portland moment? My mentor and former boss, Dr. Margaret Neal, retired from Portland State University this past June after more than 40 years of service. In a planned surprise with Portland City Council, we were able to gather Margaret’s friends and colleagues in City Hall for what she thought was a proclamation for the Older Americans Act anniversary. Unbeknownst to her, Commissioner Nick Fish surprised her by reading a proclamation honoring Dr. Neal’s service to the City of Portland and our age-friendly initiative. I was so happy to coordinate the proclamation with City Council staff and to see the genuine surprise on Margaret’s face when she realized what was happening. She truly deserved to be honored and the entire event felt so very Portland to me.
Heather A Hoell is the Executive Director of Venture Portland. Under Heather's leadership, Venture Portland strengthened Portland's 50 neighborhood business districts - between 12/31/09 and 12/31/17, business district membership increased 154% and revenue grew 642% citywide. She increased participation in Venture Portland's programs, addressing 600 requests for assistance and providing more than 3,000 hours of training and technical assistance to business district leaders annually. Heather invested $671,000 in business district grant awards funding 265 projects and leveraging more than $2.5 million in additional private investment (an almost 4-to-1 match) while increasing Venture Portland's staff 320%, rebranding the organization, facilitating more than 1,200 Board volunteer hours annually and ensuring the organization's financial stability. In 2015 Heather launched the innovative Catalytic Investment Initiative, providing targeted assistance to historically underserved districts in East and North Portland facing significant gentrification and displacement pressures. As Venture Portland's primary advocate, she represents neighborhood businesses on a dozen diverse committees and task forces and promotes business districts at the local, state and national level.
Prior to her work with Venture Portland, Heather spent 12 years in California where she directed the Yerba Buena Alliance, a membership organization serving San Francisco's dynamic and diverse Yerba Buena neighborhood business district. During her tenure, Heather more than doubled membership launched a series of signature neighborhood events and facilitated the formation of a $2.5 million/year business improvement district (BID) which, at the time, was San Francisco's largest. Heather's background also includes 10 years in politics, running several congressional campaigns across the country and directing public affairs and political activities in 13 northern California counties for a non profit. Heather has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Rhetoric and Media Studies from Willamette University.
What is your Portland moment? Watching neighborhood business owners citywide come together to weather the unexpected (Snow! Heat! Fire! Explosions!) while helping those in need at home and across the country
Hilary Sundeleaf Mackenzie is a native Oregonian and has owned and operated her small architectural firm in Portland for over 30 years. She received her Master of Architecture from the University of Washington and her undergraduate degree from Smith College in Massachusetts. Working as a land use planner for the City of Tigard in the late 1970’s she gained an acute appreciation of the importance of public involvement during countless City Council and Planning Commission hearings.
In more recent years she has served on her Neighborhood Association Board and as current Board President for the NWNW Coalition of neighborhoods. She has testified at City Council multiple times advocating for the preservation of park land. Currently, she serves on the Committee to Restore the Run, advocating for the restoration of the full run of the Washington Park Zoo Railway.
What is your Portland moment? In 2014, Hilary appealed City Council’s decision gifting 3 acres of park land to the Japanese Garden, to the Oregon State Land Use Board of Appeals. The appeal was based on the lack of public process as spelled out in Title 33. I would call my appeal to LUBA my “Portland moment”.
Israel Bayer is the former executive director of Street Roots, an award-winning weekly street newspaper. Bayer is a housing advocate and journalist. He is currently writing a book on homelessness.
JR Lilly was born in Fort Defiance, Ariz., as a member of the Diné (Navajo) Nation; a part of the Tachii’nii (Red Running Into Water) Clan and born for the Tsenjikini (Cliff Dwelling People) Clan. A passion for serving the Native American community is evident in many aspects of JR's life, most noticeably his community involvement with the Portland Native American Community. As part of a new generation that straddles a cultural chasm, JR leads efforts to further the conversation around defining the role of our generation for both Native and Non-Native communities. Most importantly, he is passionate about the greater work to combat the harsh realities that plague our Native community each day. Having grown up in poverty, family violence, and sometimes homelessness he is all too familiar with the need for change. “The commitment to my community and relations drives me to continue using my skill set partnered with my cultural values to serve our people”.
JR currently serves as the Civic Engagement Coordinator for the Native American Youth & Family Center (NAYA) where we had worked at for the past 4 years in varies capacities. He also sits on the Portland Park Foundation Board, Partners In Diversity Program Committee, Eloheh Farm Board, Portland Indian Leaders Roundtable (PILR), and volunteers with serval nonprofit organizations in the area.
What is your Portland moment? It was during the first time I attended the Delta Park Powwow several years ago. In the middle of telling a story about hiking Mt. Hood, a local Native Elders corrected me by saying “Her name is Wy’east” (speaking about Mt. Hood). That is when I knew this land had a much richer history then I initially thought.
Karin Hansen was born and raised in Portland's eastside by two social workers who committed their lives to assist and empower the disempowered. Karin received her first degree at Portland State University in Business Administration with a Certificate of International Business. She hoped and believed at the time that this degree, would offer her a chance to see and experience the world and its beautiful and varied cultures.
After some time in the business world, she realized that business wasn’t a world where she could thrive. She later went back to PSU and received her Masters of Education. Her time as a high school teacher at Jefferson High School and Vocational Village (now one of the Alliance High Schools) confirmed her belief in the wisdom and potential of our next generation. She also learned, as the generation in charge, we weren’t making the best choices to support, nurture, and empower the best in all our young people.
To this end, Karin worked alongside her husband, Tom Potter, former Mayor of Portland, to change how our city includes youth, people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities and our LGBTQ+ community in its outreach and inclusion when making policy decisions. She is a strong believer that for government to be most effective and efficient, it must share time and decision-making power with stakeholders, no matter the issue at hand.
Her proudest moment was when hundreds of Portland children and youth ratified Our Bill of Rights: Children+Youth, a powerfully thoughtful, insightful, and inclusive document. The document was created BY and FOR children and youth from the collective voices of thousands of Portland children and youth answering the question, “What is it you need from the adults in your community to reach your full potential?”
What is my Portland moment? I am a lifelong Portlander. Since I have known nothing else, I have come to learn how newcomers define My Portland. I am beginning to see those things that make Our Portland. The following story helped me see Our Portland a little more clearly. Continue reading here>>
Kathleen Saadat was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and raised in a family committed to justice and education, Kathleen Gunnell Saadat graduated from Chicago’s Farragut High school in 1957 and from Reed College in 1974.
Since arriving in Portland in 1970, Kathleen has held positions as diverse as quality control chemist in a pharmaceutical manufacturing company; janitor; contracts monitor and program analyst for training and employment programs; Executive Director of Oregon’s Commission on Black Affairs; Director of Affirmative Action for the State of Oregon; assistant to Portland City Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury; Diversity Director for Cascade AIDS Project; Diversity Development and Affirmative Action manager for the city of Portland and Chair of the Community Oversight Advisory Board.
She has served Oregon’s LGBTQ community as mentor and confidant for nearly 40 years. In 1976, she and six others organized Portland’s first gay rights march. In 1991, she and Keeston Lowry, worked with a team of City employees to craft the city’s Civil Rights Ordinance which prohibited discrimination against gay and lesbian people and prohibited discrimination based on the legal source of income. In 1992, she served on the steering committee for the campaign against Ballot Measure 9, which had it passed would have rendered GLBTQ people second class citizens.
An activist and advocate for African American rights, and the rights of other people of color, for women’s rights and for economic justice for all, she was a planner and participant in Portland’s International Women’s Day Celebration and served on the board of the Bradley Angle House. She worked with and supported Portland’s African American Alliance, African Americans Voting No on Nine and the Lesbian Community Project.
Kathleen is a member of Class VI of the Oregon American Leadership Forum, a 1992 Fellow with the Advocacy Institute in Washington DC and recipient of an invitation to Hedgebrook Women's Writers Retreat.
She has received lifetime achievement awards from Portland PFLAG Black Chapter, Portland’s Equity Foundation and from the World Arts Foundation in recognition of her contributions to the efforts to "Keep Living the Dream" of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She has been listed as one of 100 WHO LEAD, in Oregon, by Oregon Business Magazine. She received the Woman of Achievement Award from Oregon State University; Two Portland Lesbian Community Project's Spirit of Portlandia Awards for Leadership; the Bayard Rustin Civil Rights Award, presented by the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment; the Harvey Milk Award presented by After Eight, Corvallis, Oregon; a Civil Liberties Award from the Oregon chapter of the ACLU; the Phoenix Rising Jack Abele award.
What is your Portland moment? I Love the beauty of the City and the caring expressed by folks who live here, in addition to the sense of a collective support for that which shows caring for the planet through new and innovative ideas.
Kathy Coleman, MSW, is the Artistic Director of the Disability Art and Culture Project (DACP). She started dancing with the New Dance Company in Stockton, California. She founded DACP with other Portland-area disabled dancers due to the difficulties finding accessible and welcoming places to dance. She has trained with Axis Dance Company, Light Motion Dance Company, Jurg Koch, Yukio Suzuki, Yumiko Yoshioka and has participated in the Anarcha Project and Tiresias at the University of Michigan. She is a certified DanceAbility instructor and has completed the Brain-Compatible Dance Education Institute. She is involved in the disability arts movement nationally and has presented on “The Right to Dance” at the Society for Disability Studies Conference and University of Washington Integrated Dance roundtable. Kathy combines her dance and performance experience with her knowledge of disability culture to foster the creative expression of people with disabilities as well as developing the knowledge and expression of disability culture, pride, and justice in our community.
Kathy has served as a commissioner on the Portland Commission on Disability (PCOD) for three years and before that participated on the PCOD’s outreach committee. As part of DACP, she has produced the first Disability Film Festival in Portland, created opportunities for Disabled artists to perform, and as an ally supported the movement of Disabled Refugees to form the Disabled Refugee Alliance.
Kathy has worked in the non-profit and social service area for over 25 years. This work includes Disability Rights Oregon, benefits planner; Multnomah County Health Department Healthy Birth Initiative, community health worker; Director of Community Works! an HIV and substance abuse outreach program and Counseling Coordinator at the Women’s Center of San Joaquin County.
What is your Portland moment? It would be at our Disability Culture and Justice Leadership Institute when we are learning and practicing how we can grow our movement to create an equitable Disability community that includes all our intersectional identities in Portland and beyond.
Kristen Gallagher is an organizational strategies and learning designer. She is the founder and CEO of Edify, a learning strategy consultancy that solves people operations problems for growing companies. She has architected and delivered onboarding programs for companies bringing on just one person a quarter to 100+ people a quarter. Specializing in onboarding systems, manager development, and knowledge management, Gallagher delivers programs that are designed to evolve and scale with rapid changes. She brings over eight years of learning and development and business partnership experience to Edify. Prior to founding Edify, Kristen worked in nonprofit educational programming and museum education, both designing and teaching-learning programs for children and adults.
What is your Portland moment? When I moved here five years ago, I knew no one. Within three weeks, I'd made friends riding the bus all over town, and dozens of business owners bought me coffee and told me about the city and ecosystem. I'll never forget the kindness people shared with as they welcomed me here.
Lakeitha Elliot: If the dictionary had a definition for Portland community engagement, it would feature a picture of Lakeitha Elliott. From her dedication to leadership development and mentoring with organizations like the Portland African American Leadership Forum to her tireless work advocating with and for young people and marginalized communities with organizations like the Oregon PTA and the Urban League of Portland, she is a force to be reckoned with. Her ongoing involvement shows a commitment to the region she calls home. In the whitest major city in the country; being a brilliant, forward-thinking, bridge building, a proactive Black woman is often penalized rather than rewarded, but that doesn't deter Lakeitha from doing the work that needs to be done. Her broad connections, pursuits, and accomplishments show incredible depth and breadth of character and commitment. In addition to deep connections in Portland’s African American community, she has relationships and connections in both Portland’s non-profit community and in political circles.
Lakeitha currently serves as an appointed commissioner on the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries Council on Civil Rights, as Co-Chair of the Hill Block Project Working Group and as a Legislative Aide in the Oregon Legislature.
What is your Portland moment? My Portland moment happens every year at the beginning of June when the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade winds through town. When I was younger, my Great Grandparents would park the family motorhome on the route and we would spend the night in the motorhome and in the morning climb up on top of the motor home to watch the parade. When I became a parent, I began taking my kid to the parade with a small group of family and friends. We would sit near Burgerville on MLK Blvd. We would mark a spot on the street with tape and sidewalk chalk and show up in the morning and enjoy the parade. As the ordinances changed regarding marking a spot for the parade, we began camping out across the street from Burgerville near Denny’s Parking Lot. Each year our camp out has grown larger and we fill about a half of the block with family and friends, food, BBQ, hot Breakfast, winning the Burgerville sidewalk chalk contest and more. There are some old friends that we only see once a year but, they always know where we are on the Grand Floral Parade day.
Laura Young is the N/NE Region Workforce Development Manager for Portland Community College (PCC) Portland Metropolitan Workforce Training Center where she manages staff and programming offered to low income families while overseeing day to day operations for the center. Prior to joining PCC Laura provided leadership and guidance in the development and implementation of the Portland’s Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative while serving as the District Manager of the Cully Boulevard Alliance.
Laura moved to the Cully neighborhood in 2004 and became an active volunteer and housing and transportation advocate in the community. Laura has been a board member for the Cully Association of Neighbors since 2011 and has served as Chair of the Board for the past three years. Laura also currently serves on the Port of Portland’s Citizen Noise Advisory Committee representing the City of Portland, the Broadway Corridor Development and formerly served on the Department of Human Services Children’s Services Advisory Group as an advocate for children in foster care and families experiencing disabilities.
Through her leadership role in the Cully community, Laura has developed a strong network of relationships with city, regional and state elected officials and representatives, community-based nonprofit organizations, culturally specific organizations, the local business community and residents and members of the vastly diverse communities that are the hallmark of the Cully neighborhood.
What is your Portland moment? As a Portland native and lifelong resident, my Portland moment occurs each time I visit an old Portland neighborhood and find myself disoriented, as the familiar sites of my children have been replaced by massive urban forms, both beautiful and jarring to the senses. As the landscape of our fair City is ever-changing, and as we approach unprecedented growth, I remain mindful that our efforts to renew and reinvent our urban landscape should be intentional, providing benefit to all Portlanders, from all walks of life, whether newcomers and long-term residents.
Linda Nettekoven is a community organizer with a background in public health. Linda’s choice of work, both paid and volunteer, reflects a long-time commitment to helping groups and individuals “find their voice” whether in the workplace, the neighborhood, or the public policy arena. Linda has a Masters degree in Organizational, Community and Health Psychology from the University of Oregon. She has done community development work focused on health and housing in a variety of settings from urban inner cities to small towns and rural areas.
In Portland, she has been actively engaged in community involvement and neighborhood planning and transportation issues for nearly 20 years. A long-time neighborhood association board member and former Co-Chair of the Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Coalition she has played a leadership role in Portland’s neighborhood system and has served on numerous citywide advisory bodies. Linda was a founding member of Southeast Uplift’s Diversity Committee, worked on drafting the Community Connect Plan and has served on the Public Involvement Advisory Council and the Community Involvement Committee, charged with improving engagement in the City’s Comprehensive Plan. She was a founding member of the Division Vision Coalition and the Division Design Initiative and has served as a budget advisory committee member for the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and the Bureau of Transportation.
Linda currently serves on the Board of Craft 3, a community development financial institution focused on family, economic and environmental resilience. She is the recipient of a Spirit of Portland Award and was honored as one of the Daily Journal of Commerce’s Women of Vision in 2018.
What is your Portland Moment? The Portland moment that overshadows everything else for me, actually overwhelms my many more pleasant memories, is RIGHT NOW when I find myself horrified at how people are treating one another and wanting desperately for us to get rid of all the labels and negative assumptions and find a common vision that allows us to create a place where everyone can thrive and feel respected.
Marcus Mundy is the Executive Director at the Coalition of Communities of Color (CCC), an alliance of culturally-specific community-based organizations with representation from the following communities of color: African, African American, Asian, Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander, and Slavic. The CCC supports a collective racial justice effort to improve outcomes for communities of color through policy analysis and advocacy, culturally-appropriate data and research, environmental justice and leadership development in communities of color.
Prior to CCC, Marcus was a Principal at Mundy Consulting LLC, a firm assisting clients in achieving equity, diversity, and inclusion in personnel, contract, development and administrative areas. Marcus also served as the President/CEO of the Urban League of Portland, delivering the seminal “State of Black Oregon” report in 2009. Over the years, Marcus has served the community through his participation on numerous boards and community advisory positions, including the Oregon Health Fund Board, the OHSU Foundation Board, the Oregon Council on Civil Rights, the Oregon Community Foundation’s Regional Advisory Initiative, the Coalition for a Livable Future, EcoDistrict, Upstream Public Health and the City of Portland’s own Diversity and Civic Leadership program.
Marcus attended Howard University in Washington, DC, receiving his Bachelor in Business Administration, and he received his Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Oregon. He is also a Senior Fellow in Oregon’s chapter of the American Leadership Forum.
What is your Portland moment? I was sitting in my car outside of Peet's Coffee on 15th and Broadway NE, about to pull away when I saw one of my then (and now) City Commissioners, Nick Fish, talking and engaging with a homeless citizen outside of the shop. He didn't rush away; he didn't avoid a conversation; his engagement was genuine, warm, real, and pleasant. He shook hands with the man afterward and both went about their business. I drove off.
However, it was at that moment that I realized that Portland, a city where I had already lived for almost a decade, was now a city that I wanted to make my home. It was a city where its civic leaders actually cared to take the time, for each citizen irrespective of their situation, to try to engage and try to find a better path.
And he did it when nobody was watching. That was a moment I vividly remember, and why I am honored to engage with Civic Life today.
Molly Mayo is a committed community involvement advocate. After founding a nonprofit promoting community integration for people with and without intellectual disabilities and serving as the organization’s first executive director, she is now the executive director of SE Uplift Neighborhood Coalition, which works to build informed, inclusive, and participatory neighborhoods.
Molly’s work in building meaningful community networks has been recognized by the Sustainable Business Portland Equity Award, the ARC of Multnomah-Clackamas Provider Advocacy Award, and the Mayor’s Making a Difference in Disability Award. Molly is also very proud to be the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization Africa House Volunteer of the Year (2015).
What is your Portland Moment? Roller skating down the middle of SE Division Street with the On-the-Move Community Integration community, waving at local neighbors sitting on the curbside, while our group marched in the Division Street Parade with costumes, banners, and a dog.
Musse Olol currently serves as the President of Somali American Council of Oregon and Commissioner, Oregon Commission of Black affairs, appointed by Oregon Governor. A community leader, caretaker, and activist, his leadership has been recognized both by the City of Portland and by the Federal Government. He successfully facilitated the cooperation of nine Somali community organizations to unify as one —which was the first time this type of unity has been achieved by the Somali Diaspora anywhere, according to Mr. Wiktorowicz, Senior Director, NSC, White House.
In 2012, Olol was presented in Washington, DC with the FBI's Director's Community Leadership Award (DCLA). The prize is issued annually to individuals or groups that have earned distinction through service to society.
What is your Portland moment? When Portland stood against the national divisive politics to become a sanctuary city. A city that respects all of their residents regardless of religion, creed, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity or immigration status.
Rabbi Debra Kolodny is a veteran of several social justice movements, bringing a spiritual perspective and an activist’s passion for racial and economic justice, women’s, environmental, peace and LGBTQ causes since 1981.
Her work in Portland and around the nation includes: Serving on the Coordinating Committee of the Oregon Poor People’s Campaign, Participating in the leadership of Portland United Against Hate, Producing a Queer Clergy for Black Lives Matter conference, Conducting hundreds of workshops on LGBT issues, spirituality and sexuality, workers rights, peace and women’s rights, Serving five years as National Coordinator of BiNet USA: National Bisexual Network, Facilitating NGLTF’s National Religious Leadership Roundtable for six years, and Speaking at rallies, protests and marches for Living Wage, Black Lives Matter, Freedom to Marry, Immigration Rights and against White Nationalism, Trump, Islamaphobia and more.
Professionally, she spent the first 17 years of her career working in and with unions, specializing in creating large-scale labor-management partnerships. From 2002 until 2011 she led ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, the headquarters organization of the Jewish Renewal Movement. She moved to Portland to serve P’nai Or as its rabbi, and then served as Executive Director for Nehirim-a national retreat and advocacy organization for LGBTQ Jews. She also served as the Executive Director at Resolutions Northwest. In the summer of 2017, she chose to prioritize her loves of rabbinics, activism, culture change, and coalition building. Currently, she serves as the spiritual leader of Portland’s UnShul, teaches the workshop “Interrupting Hate in Public Spaces” and imagined and is now facilitating the Portland Spirit Led Justice Alliance. She identifies as a resister, persister and bad-ass sister.
What is your Portland moment? MC’ing the 2017 Women’s March, watching people pour over all the bridges to attend the 100,000-person strong event.
Scott Bricker is originally from New York state. After college in 1994, he moved to Portland in search of learning about urban and regional planning. Scott landed an internship at Metro Regional Government and soon after that, he earned his Masters of Urban and Regional Planning from Portland State University. In 1998 Scott joined the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) and worked there for 11 years, holding positions of Education Director, then Policy Director and Executive Director. In 2010 Scott took a new position leading America Walks, a national non-profit working to “make America a great place to walk” and simultaneously consulted with Travel Oregon on bicycle tourism development. In 2016 Scott joined Travel Oregon staff full-time and now serves as the Director of Product Development in the Destination Development Department working across Oregon to help create livable communities while building economic vitality.
Scott has a passion for citizen activism. In graduate school, Scott worked in three North Portland middle schools to teach urban planning and running school bicycle programs. At the BTA Scott helped create the Oregon Safe Routes to School program, pushed for the Neighborhood Greenway program and worked on the first bike corral in Portland. As a renter, Scott joined the Irvington Neighborhood Association (NA) and sat on the Board of the Lloyd District Transportation Management Association. More recently Scott moved to St. Johns and served as the Chair of the NA for almost two years and as the Chair of the Safety and Livability Team. Scott continues to be passionate about walkability and just this fall helped secure new crosswalks on Lombard in downtown St Johns.
Scott derives the most joy when he’s wandering and exploring the world with his family, plus he likes riding his bikes and playing basketball at lunchtime. Scott lives in the St. Johns neighborhood on an urban farm with wife Angela Goldsmith, daughters Samantha and Gabrielle, chickens, bees, and various pets.
What is your Portland moment? Being part of the first Depave project, connecting the founder of Depave and his wife who owns a small mixed-use building on N. Williams Ave. The building had an underutilized parking lot which is now Fargo Forest Garden, a semi-public space for people to enjoy urban greenery while growing food.
Sophorn Cheang is the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/Affirmative Action in the Office of Governor Kate Brown. She serves as the organizational leader in the Governor’s Office who drives the development, implementation, and integration of best practices, the provision of resources and recruitment strategies to increase access, equity and community engagement to State Government. Previously, Sophorn served as Director of Asian Family Center and Senior Manager for the Community Development Department at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO).
Sophorn has over 10 years of extensive experience in promoting wellness, equity, social justice, and self-sufficiency through education, advocacy, collaboration, and empowerment for immigrant and refugee communities, as well as communities of color.
Her career and personal interest involve education and community engagement locally and internationally. It is her passion to be part of the solutions to help both local and global communities to grow and foster hope. In her free time, Sophorn serves as the Executive Director for the Golden Leaf Education Foundation, President of Building Power for Communities of Color and Treasurer of Red Means Help. Sophorn holds an MBA from Willamette University, Atkinson Graduate School of Management.
What is your Portland moment? My Portland moment involves realizing how amazing and diverse the community is that calls this place home, and how there is always an open door of opportunity here.
Taji Chesimet is 16 years old and a junior at De La Salle North Catholic HS. Taji has been active in civic engagement and leadership since middle school. Taji has been building his Student Council from the ground up to develop and facilitate workshops to lead community events. Taji believes in uplifting and empowering all minority groups and does so in intersectional frameworks to guide his work.
Taji currently sits on the Multnomah Youth Commission and on the Educating Youth-Voice sub-committee. Over the past year, Taji has founded a non-profit called Youth Educating Police that works with the Portland Police Bureau to sustain youth involvement in the training process and to have a strong investment in building relationships between police and youth. Taji also works for The CENTER, a coalition hub that centers on youth voice and education through community events, panels, and summer public planning programs. Taji does some freelance work with Momentum Alliance, What Now Oregon, BMA, ACLU, Pride NW, and World Learning.
Taji plans to attend college for Urban Education and Leadership with a focus on Global Affairs. Despite Taji’s roots in Portland being only 7 years in the making, Taji believes that potential growth and power that this city holds will be the reason for returning after college. This city is becoming a national presence and with that, comes the necessity for a strong leadership and foundation — fighting for all people.
What is your Portland moment? The first time I stepped into the Council Chambers at City Hall. We were enveloped in a space that harbored ideas of change for the betterment of the Portland community. I felt myself there and the potential rise in youth changing space, as well. I am very excited to work on the Office of Community & Civic Life Code Change committee and extremely excited about the work we are going to do be doing together.
Taylor Ford was involved with an SEI-sponsored program called Brothers Reflecting Brotherhood as a young man. Through this program, Taylor was able to form mentor/mentee relationships with a few members and continued to provide support to them following his exit from the program.
While in New Orleans for his undergraduate studies Taylor helped start a non-profit group known as Brothers For Progress. This non-profit was formed for fostering the academic, social, and professional development of African-American men attending Loyola University New Orleans. Through this group, he was able to not only provide mentorship to the members, but also spearhead service projects which included clothing drives, passing out food to the homeless, and youth outreach at two local high schools. Since moving back to Portland in 2017, Taylor has helped manage a clothing drive ran by Faith Heritage Church for providing clothing for the victims of the flooding happening in Houston at the time. Taylor’s aunt has been a longtime board member for Good In The Neighborhood.
Taylor does his best to be as active in N/NE Portland as possible through community events or just being present in the community. Taylor is excited about the future of this city and wants to be involved in how it is shaped. Taylor believes that Portland must take an equity-based approach with how it attempts to engage with its citizens. And that including a voice of a native Portlander will pay huge dividends for this committee, as Taylor has a vested interest in the growth of the city and solidarity between all demographics of people who live here. Taylor wants all people to feel like they are heard and appreciated by the City of Portland.
What is your Portland moment? Since birth, my hometown has been synonymous with who I am as a person. My grandfather, Charles Ford Jr., was a well-known social and civil rights activist in the African-American community here in Portland. Civic engagement has been a staple in my life from a very young age. One life lesson that he taught me was from a quote by Muhammad Ali which read, “The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth”. I know that all the success I have seen in my personal and professional life up until this time is due in part to the help of others. So now as an adult, it is my time to pour back into the city that helped shape me into the man that I am today.
Vera Pool was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, at the age of one her mother passed, she and her sister Rachel were raised by their grandparents. In 1961 the grandmother, Vera, Rachel, and her mother’s sister moved to Portland to join their grandfather who had lived in Portland since 1958.
Vera’s grandmother was determined to make sure that her granddaughters would have better opportunities in seeking an education. Her grandmother would often remind her that either is no such discussion, as “I can’t”.
Vera is currently employed with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and holds the rank of Lieutenant. In 1970, she was hired as a corrections deputy. In 1975 she was promoted to sergeant, the first time in history that a female was promoted within the Sheriff’s Office. In 1980 Vera became a first in history again when she was promoted to lieutenant and history has continued in her life. She was the first in her family to graduate from college.
Vera holds a Bachelor Degree in Psychology from the University of Portland, A Master of Arts in Education and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Portland. She is a former volunteer mediator for the State of Oregon Small Claims Court and Landlord/Tenant disputes for twelve years.
- Vera is a part-time adjunct professor in Criminal Justice at Portland Community College for twelve years and is currently on staff.
- A life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Portland Alumnae Chapter.
- A life member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
- A life member of the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice and currently serves as a board member.
- A former member of the Oregon State Mediator Association.
- A former member of the Urban League of Portland.
- Past president of Portland Alumnae Chapter.
- Treasurer of Piedmont Rose Connection, Inc. (501) c (3).
- Founder of Internship for criminal justice students with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
- Member of Maranatha Church
What is your Portland moment? the demography change in North and North East from Fremont to Vancouver Avenue. Also, the diversity of neighborhood in the Portland area.