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2017 Portland First Citizen

Stephen Gomez

Stephen Gomez was born in New York City and raised in Albany, New York.  As a student-athlete at the University of Florida he made the USA National Junior Track & Field team in 1974 to compete against the Soviet Union.

His roots as a competitive runner opened the door to his first post-collegiate job opportunity at a rapidly growing young company—Nike.  Transplanted by work to Portland, Oregon in 1982, Stephen had a 17-year career at Nike, including five years serving as Global Vice President overseeing the company’s apparel business.

Traveling and living abroad during his time with Nike provided Stephen the opportunity to see how communities prosper, or conversely, fail.  It became clear to him that vibrant communities result from strong elected leadership, thriving business environments, investments in community institutions and individual civic engagement.

Since departing Nike, Stephen has spent the majority of his time contributing to some of Portland’s most impactful non-profit organizations.

In 2000, he joined a group of volunteers committed to restarting the Big Brothers/Big Sisters mentoring organization in Portland. Portland was the largest community in the U.S. without this nationally acclaimed organization. Serving as board chair through 2005 he developed a new board, raised funds, hired the first executive director and stayed to see the organization manage its first 100 Big-Little matches.

A 2001 meeting with Joyce Furman, one of Portland’s great philanthropists, resulted in the opportunity to join the board of New Avenues for Youth, Portland’s leading social service agency delivering support and resources that enable foster, at-risk, and homeless youth to overcome barriers and realize their potential.

Stephen served on the New Avenues board for eleven years, including three as board chair. He oversaw the organization’s startup social-enterprise program which opened and still runs Ben & Jerry’s ice cream franchise stores as well as several other businesses that provide youth job training and work experience.  He also teamed with Joyce Furman on a successful capital campaign to acquire and develop the downtown building where New Avenues operates today.

Exploring his interest in healthy communities, Stephen joined the board of The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (now the Street Trust) in 2008 and served as board chair from 2010-15.  The BTA is the region’s leading advocacy organization promoting a safe, convenient and accessible bicycling environment.  Due to their efforts, Portland has consistently been named the “best bicycling city in America” for most of the past decade and is directly responsible for the nation’s leading bicycling commute share of 8%.  Stephen was also part of the effort that led to the Nike sponsorship of Portland’s BIKETOWN bike-share in 2016.

Stephen joined the board of Open School in 2012 and serves as board chair today.  Open School is a rigorous college-prep program that identifies students most likely to drop out and surrounds them with what they need to get ahead—academics, equity and advocacy.  Most Open School students have been affected by poverty and racism.

From 2015 through 2016 Stephen worked with Open School Executive Director Andrew Mason and the Open School board on a successful $7-million capital campaign to build Open School East.  This grades 7-12 program is located in the Rockwood neighborhood in East Multnomah County and serves one of the poorest communities in Oregon.

As a resident of the north Portland Boise neighborhood for the past five years, Stephen has been witness to one of the most rapidly changing communities in the city.  While serving on the Boise Neighborhood Association board, Stephen learned of the possible displacement of the Sons of Haiti Masonic Lodge on historic North Mississippi Avenue.

The Lodge is the home to an African-American Freemason organization that has been in existence since the 1950s in Portland.  One of the two last remaining black-owned businesses on historic Mississippi Avenue, the Lodge was in danger of having the city foreclose on the property due to liens levied because of numerous code violations.  Stephen rallied neighbors—architects, contractors and concerned businesses on Mississippi Avenue—in a project that renovated part of the Lodge, bringing the site into code compliance and resulting in the city forgiving the liens.

Since leaving Nike in 1998, Stephen continues working in the business community.  He co-owned and operated Serratto restaurant in NW Portland in the 2000s, helped start-up outdoor apparel company Nau, serving as Chairman of the Board from 2005-2008, and currently works at project^, an innovative real estate development company that specializes in retail, office, residential, and academic spaces that maximize the environmental, social and economic benefits inherent in meaningful places.

 

The Portland First Citizen Award was created in 1928 by the Portland Realty Board (now PMAR) to honor civic achievements and business leadership within the community. It is considered one of Portland’s most prestigious awards, and the individuals who have received it form an honor roll of the city’s most prominent leaders during the last eight decades.

In addition to the Portland First Citizen Award, two other awards will be presented at the banquet. The Portland Future First Citizen Award recognizes a high school student in the Portland metropolitan area who is a model of civic responsibility and provides a $5,000 scholarship toward the recipient’s higher education. And, the PMAR Good Neighbor Award recognizes a Realtor® for his or her extraordinary commitment to improving the quality of life in the community with a $1,000 contribution to the recipient’s charity of choice.

To purchase tickets, click here.

Thank you to our Platinum Sponsors: The Oregonian, RE/MAX Equity Group and Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS™).

Past Portland First Citizens

1928 Ben Selling 1972 Ira C. Keller
1929 J. C. Ainsworth 1973 Howard Vollum
1930 Aaron M. Frank 1974 William E. Roberts
1931 Henry B. Van Duzer 1975 Fred G. Meyer
1932 Raymond B. Wilcox 1976 Larry Hilaire
1933 George L. Baker 1977 Louis B. Perry
1934 Hopkin Jenkins 1978 Edith Green
1935 Edward C. Sammons 1979 David Edwin Abram
1936 Arthur L. Fields 1980 William Swindells, Sr.
1937 Richard B. Dillehunt, M.D. 1981 Judge Harlow F. Lenon
1938 Franklin T. Griffith 1982 Samuel T. Naito & William S. Naito
1939 Charles H. Martin 1983 Carl M. Halvorson
1940 Ross McIntyre 1984 Bishop Paul D. Waldschmidt
1941 Mrs. Thomas D. Honeyman 1985 John Piacentini
1942 Edgar F. Kaiser 1986 Dr. Albert Starr
1943 Portland Service Men/Women 1987 Robert L. Ridgley
1944 Mrs. C.S. Jackson 1988 Don C. Frisbee
1945 Theodore R. Gamble 1989 Melvin ‘Pete’ Mark
1946 Chester A. Moores 1990 Harry L. Demorest
1947 Sid Woodbury 1991 Dr. Matthew W. Prophet, Jr.
1948 Hillman Lueddemann 1992 Harry Glickman
1949 Thomas Harry Banfield 1993 John ‘Jack’ Faust
1950 David B. Simpson 1994 Maestro Jacob Avshalomov
1951 Frank Erwin McCaslin 1995 Harold & Arlene Schnitzer
1952 Edgar William Smith 1996 Fred A. Stickel
1953 C.B. Stephenson 1997 Neil Goldschmidt
1954 Ben H. Hazen 1998 Brian & Gwyneth Booth
1955 Dr. Morgan S. Odell 1999 Dr. Robert B. Pamplin, Jr.
1956 Harold Fox Wendell 2000 Peter E. Jacobsen
1957 Rt. Rev. Benjamin Dagwell 2002 Senator Mark O. Hatfield
1958 William Bruce Boone 2003 Tony L. Hopson, Sr.
1959 Paul Boole McKee 2004 Dan Wieden
1960 Dr. Leo Sherman Lucas 2005 Gert Boyle
1961 Dr. Samuel Latta Diack 2006 Jack McGowan
1962 Truman Wesley Collins 2007 Peggy Fowler
1963 Judge Donald E. Long 2008 Joe Weston
1964 Charles R. Holloway, Jr. 2009 Bill Schonely
1965 Aubrey R. Watzek 2010 Brian J. Druker, MD
1966 Mrs. S. Mason Ehrman 2011 Mercy Corps
1967 John M. Fulton 2012 Duncan Campbell
1968 John D. Gray 2013 Jean DeMaster
1969 Homer T. Shaver 2014 George “Bing” Sheldon
1970 Judge Gus J. Solomon  2015  Mark and Ann Edlen
1971 Glenn Jackson  2016  Karen Fishel and Barb Attridge