On September 24th, the Urban League of Portland held its annual Equal Opportunity Day Awards Dinner with more than 700 individuals in attendance. The dinner and program, sponsored by Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon, was supported by over 60 sponsor organizations. Funds raised at this event surpassed last year’s successful 2012 Equal Opportunity Dinner, and will be used throughout the fiscal year to further The Urban League’s mission to serve and empower African Americans and others, in the region.
The dinner’s program honored Dr. George Brown, President and CEO of Legacy Health Services. He spoke about his career, the state of healthcare in the country, and the importance of health equity as he accepted his award. Dr. Brown, a 26-year veteran of the United States Army who retired as a Brigadier General, noted that a lack of access to affordable health care is a one of the most serious threats to our nation’s security.
The keynote address, by Dr. Marc Nivet, Chief Diversity Officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges, also focused on racial inequities in our healthcare system. He noted, “Diversity and excellence are not competing values…they are one in the same.” Despite the urgency we face, Dr Nivet pointed to the dismal fact that the number and percentage of African American males in medical schools today is lower than in 1980. His words about the importance of diversity and cultural competency in the field of medicine were met with rapt attention from the crowd.
The co-founder of the Urban League of Portland Young Professionals, and Executive Director of Portland African American Leadership Forum, Cyreena Boston Ashby spoke of her father’s dedication to the Urban League, and emphasized that growing up involved in the Urban League movement has shaped her into the leader she is today.
This year’s event was punctuation to a successful year for the Urban League as it celebrated renewed support from the community, and the one-year anniversary of President and CEO, Michael Alexander. “For the past year, it has been my privilege to serve as President of one of Portland’s oldest and most revered civil rights organizations. My greatest reward has been having the honor to support the work of the Urban League staff and our partners,” said Alexander, “The Urban League looks forward to continuing to serve our community and this city.”
Since 1945, the Urban League of Portland has empowered African Americans and other Oregonians to achieve equality in education, employment, health, and economic opportunity. The Urban League of Portland believes that everyone has the power to change the world and works with people to actualize their potential and put their passion into action. See more photos from the event below and the full album on our Facebook page.
The Urban League of Portland thanks presenting sponsor Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon, gold sponsors Nike, University of Oregon and the Office of the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, and Wieden + Kennedy, silver sponsors Portland Development Commission and Willamette Management Associates, and all other community partners for supporting the 2013 Equal Opportunity Day Awards Dinner including:
- Bronze sponsors Comcast, Enterprise Holdings, Fred Meyer, Legacy Health Systems, Metro, OHSU, Oregon State University, Pacific NW Regional Council of Carpenters, Port of Portland, Portland Trail Blazers and Wells Fargo.
- Associate sponsors Albina Opportunities Corp. / Stoll Berne, Ball Janik Law Firm, Central City Concern, City of Portland – Civil Rights Program – Bureau of Internal Business Services, Family Care Inc, Intel, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Kaiser Permanente, Lewis and Clark College, LifeMap, Melvin Mark Companies, Miller Nash LLP, Moda Health Companies, Multnomah County DCHS and DCJ, Multnomah County Health Department, New Seasons Market, Northwest Health Foundation, NW Natural Gas, One Pacific Coast Bank, Oregon Convention Center, Oregon Health Authority, Pacific University, PacifiCorp, Pfizer Inc, Portland Community College, Portland Fire & Rescue, Portland General Electric, Portland Housing Bureau, Portland Police Bureau, Portland Public Schools, Portland State University, REACH Community Development, S. Brooks and Associates, Inc, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, Stoel Rives LLP, The Boeing Company, The Standard, Turner Construction Company, University of Portland, US Bank and Warner Pacific College.