The Spirit of Portland Awards recognize local individuals and organizations who have demonstrated an outstanding dedication to positive change in our community. Award winners are those who have not only worked to improve the community, but who have also gone above and beyond a dedication to civic engagement in order to make a lasting impact. The ceremony was held Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at the East Portland Community Center, and honored several worthy organizations, businesses, and individuals, including Urban League of Portland Director of Advocacy and Public Policy Midge Purcell, who won a Community Harmony Award for her endless energy, vision and leadership.
Midge Purcell inspires the kind of civic participation and forward thinking that Portland needs to ensure a socially sustainable future. She demonstrates her vision for equality on a daily basis through policy, grassroots organizing and individual and community advocacy work. You would be hard pressed to find a community leader, elected official, or policy expert who has not been influenced and inspired by Midge.
Midge’s development of the Urban League of Portland’s Advocacy and Civic Engagement Department helped to lay the foundation for consistent community engagement and policy change. Through this department, she carved a space where the Black community’s voice could develop into political power and ultimately, policy change. It also paved the way for the 2009 State of Black Oregon report. The data and policy recommendations contained in that work has served as a North Star for people and advocates for equity and reform across the state. Her production of this groundbreaking report sparked the exponential growth of a social justice dialogue in Portland and provided an example to communities of color and others committed to equity of how data, research and stories can be used to lift up hidden populations and provide a pathway forward.
We are proud to have the opportunity to work along side Midge, and are delighted by this accolade from the City for her hard work. We congratulate and celebrate Midge Purcell.