Celebrating 30 Years of Advocacy
Since 1983, Oregon’s advocacy commissions have amplified the voices of Oregon citizens who are under-represented in the corridors of political power: women, black, Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander Oregonians. Join the chairs of the four commissions for a conversation about how much has been achieved and the challenges that remain, including priorities for the 2013 legislative session.
Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs - Andrea Cano, Chair. A social justice advocate and communications specialist, Andrea Cano has served the people in this state as the director of the Oregon Farm Worker Ministry, administrator of a national media project to bring low power-FM radio stations to local communities, and as an organizational consultant to numerous multicultural, ecumenical, and interfaith organizations. Her international work, primarily through the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, sent her to 30 countries including many in Latin America and the Caribbean. This legislative session the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs is focusing on advocating for Tuition Equity, and issues around hate crimes and healthcare.
Oregon Commission on Black Affairs - Isaac Dixon, Chair. Isaac Dixon is an experienced human resources professional with long tenure in the HR field. He currently serves at the Associate Vice President and Director Human Resources at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Prior to moving into the world of higher education Isaac worked for companies such as Providence Health and Services, GE Capital, Pitney Bowes Financial Services and NIKE. This legislative session the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs is focusing on issues around hate crime legislation, disparities in education achievement and economic opportunity for minority owned businesses.
Oregon Commission on Asian Pacific Islanders – Mari Watanabe, Vice Chair. Mari Watanabe is currently employed at the Portland Business Alliance (PBA) and heads up two programs under the PBA's umbrella. As the Program Director of Leadership Portland, Mari oversees the 10-month leadership program designed to develop community leaders. As Executive Director of Partners in Diversity, Mari oversees this non-profit whose mission is to help companies recruit, support and retain new professionals of color in Oregon and SW Washington. In March of 2011, she was one of 13 Japanese American delegates selected to represent the U.S. in Japan as part of the 2011 Japanese American Leadership Delegation. This legislative session the Oregon Commission on Asian Pacific Islanders is focusing on issues around education and civic engagement.
Oregon Commission on Women - Stephanie Vardavas, Chair. Stephanie Vardavas has enjoyed a varied career spanning more than 30 years in the sports business. She is now the principal of Irenic, LLC, and is engaged in mediation and arbitration. Stephanie is an active volunteer in the Portland community where she served two terms as President of the Friends of the Multnomah County Library, and has volunteered for EMERGE Oregon and the Classroom Law Project. This legislative session the Oregon Commission on Women is advocating for a bill that would allow survivors of domestic violence to change their names without creating a public record of the name change.
S. Renee Mitchell, M.B.A., is an award-winning, former journalist, who was nominated twice for the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. She left a 25-year newspaper career behind to reinvent herself as a creative consultant, K-12 writer-in-residence, workshop facilitator and social justice grant writer. Renee is also a first-time novelist, spoken-word poet, actress, children's book author and community advocate for women who have experienced domestic violence and sexual assault.