Partners in Diversity
Mari Watanabe comes to Partners in Diversity from the non-profit world where she was the executive director for four years of the Japanese American history and culture organization Oregon Nikkei Endowment (O.N.E.).
O.N.E. built two major projects in Portland including the Japanese American Historical Plaza in Tom McCall Waterfront Park and the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in Old Town Chinatown.
Prior to moving into the non-profit world, Mari worked for various apparel manufacturing companies including Union Bay Sportswear, Nordstrom Product Group, and Nike, Inc.
Appointed by Governor John Kitzhaber in May 2011, Mari serves as vice-chair on the Oregon Commission for Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs under the umbrella of the Oregon Advocacy Commission.
Current and past board/community service includes National Veterans Network, Portland Taiko, Executive Development Institute (EDI), Friends of Minidoka, Japanese Ancestral Society, APANO, and the Old Town Chinatown Business Association.
A graduate of Washington State University, Mari studied for one year in Japan as a foreign exchange student at Japan University. Raised in Seattle, Mari moved to Portland in 2000 and enjoys golfing, biking, hiking, family and friends.
Leadership Council Chair
Chief Operating Officer
Jilma Meneses, Portland State University’s (PSU) Chief Diversity Officer, has over twenty years of administrative and business experience, including ten years at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). The Chief Diversity Officer at PSU is a vice presidential appointment serving on PSU’s president’s executive committee. Ms Meneses leads a wide range of global diversity-related programs at PSU, including the Office of Global Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Equity & Compliance, and the Office of Diversity Advocacy. She works in partnership with the dozens of other departments and student groups and provides executive level leadership on diversity related efforts. Off-campus, Ms Meneses engages the regional community to increase awareness within underrepresented populations that higher education is a tool that breaks cycles of both poverty and discrimination. She drives change and raises awareness.
Ms Meneses received her undergraduate degree from University of California at Berkeley and her Juris Doctor from Lewis & Clark Law School.
Leadership Council Vice Chair
Office of Equity and Human Rights for the City of Portland
Joe came to the City of Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights after many years spent in human resources, diversity and inclusion and executive recruiting. Prior to coming to the Office of Equity and Human Rights, Joe was the Senior Manager for Employment & Development with the City’s Bureau of Human Resources. He has a diverse background including experience in business, education, diversity/cultural competency/affirmative action, organizational development, executive recruiting and human resources management. Joe is a frequent speaker, presenter, facilitator and consultant who has participated on many employer panels and served as a liaison between government and business in regard to the needs of developing a qualified, diverse workforce, including Multnomah County’s Healthcare Workforce Development Task Force, the Governor’s Workforce Development Task Force and McDonald’s Corporation’s National Leaders Council. He has served under dynamic public leaders including Portland Mayor Vera Katz, Multnomah County Chair Beverly Stein and Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski.
Joe is a founding board member of Partners in Diversity, the organization which hosts the widely recognized Say Hey diversity events. He is also past President of the Portland Japanese American Citizens League, a past President of the Oregon Buddhist Temple and a founding board member of the Oregon Nikkei Endowment.
He is an alumnus of the University of Oregon, where he received his BS in Asian Studies/History and Masters in Education. He and his wife, Lora, have two grown children, Ryan and Kelsey.
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
The Oregon Community Foundation
Jeff Anderson is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at The Oregon Community Foundation (OCF). Jeff previously served OCF as Senior Program Officer, where he managed the statewide Community Grants program and other activities of the foundation. Prior to joining OCF in 1998, Jeff was associate vice-President for Development at Lewis & Clark College, where he coordinated a major comprehensive campaign from 1991 to 1997. From 1987 to 1991 Jeff was the Northwest field representative for the Youth Project, a national foundation providing grants and technical assistance to grassroots community organizations. He worked as a community organizer with Oregon Fair Share in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Jeff received his B.A. from Vanderbilt University.
Jeff has served on volunteer committees for Ronald McDonaldHouse Charities of Oregon, KBOO community radio, Entrepreneur's Foundation of the NW, Grant High School Foundation, and the Black United Fund. He is a past president of the board of directors for Grantmakers of Oregon and SW Washington.
Vice President of Administration
Portland General Electric
Arleen Barnett serves as vice president of Administration, which includes Human Resources, Business Continuity and Security Operations and Records. She has served on PGE’s executive team since 1998, when she was named vice president of Human Resources.
A 30-year veteran of PGE, Barnett has held a variety of positions within the company. She is a graduate of Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas and has studied in the graduate business programs at University of Portland and Portland State University.
Barnett is currently a Board and Executive Committee Member of the Oregon Historical Society, she serves on the Providence Portland Medical Foundation Board and is on the Partners in Diversity Board. She previously served on the board and was past chair of the Urban League of Portland. She is also a past board member of Junior Achievement, Salvation Army Greenhouse and the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries. Residing in Durham, Ore., Barnett enjoys spending time with her family, music, reading and travel.
Assistant Chief Diversity Officer and Vice Provost
Oregon Health & Science University
Leslie Garcia is the Assistant Chief Diversity Officer and Vice Provost at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). She is the Director of the OHSU Center for Diversity & Inclusion, leading university-wide initiatives to create and environment of respect and inclusion for all people. The Center serves faculty, students and staff through a variety of programs, including diversity resources, cultural competency lectures, community outreach, employee resource groups, student pipeline programs, and committees that address diversity, inclusion and equity issues across OHSU.
As Co-Chair of OHSU's Diversity Advisory Committee, Leslie advises the OHSU Executive Leadership Team. She co-supports and manifests the university's commitment to diversity and inclusion as an institutional priority at OHSU.
Leslie has experience working in both public and private sectors providing leadership and consultation related to diversity, cultural competency, as well as curriculum and program development.
Leslie earned her Bachelor of Arts at Eastern Washington University and her Master's Degree in Public Administration from Portland State University, where she is now pursuing her Doctorate degree.
Human Resources Director
Niki Jordan, currently human resources director for NW Natural, oversees compensation, benefits, employment, payroll, HRIS and workers compensation. She serves on the compensation committees for Central City Concern and Cover Oregon and is a member of the Associated Oregon Industries Health Care Policy Council. She is a Trustee of the Western States Health and Welfare Trust of the OPEIU, and is past president of the Columbia Willamette Compensation Group (CWCG) board.
Niki has worked for public and private employers with concentration in overall human resource and utility operations management capacities which include the Port of Portland, Standard Insurance Company, PacifiCorp, and Southern California Edison.
She holds a degree in organizational development and human resource management and has presented at industry conferences and events to include the American Association of Port Authorities, CWCG, Portland State University HRMA, and World at Work.
Director of HR and Diversity
Sheila is an experienced HR leader with solid professional experience in workforce planning, recruitment and selection, and diversity. She has corporate HR experience in private for profit and non-for-profit industries.
Currently Sheila is the HR Director with responsibilities over the Talent Acquisition, Compensation and HR Information Systems areas for Legacy Health, an Oregon based health care system with approximately 9700 employees and 6 hospitals in the area. She acts as an advisor and business partner with all levels of leadership.
She is the also charged with leading the advancement of Legacy’s diversity agenda for the organization. She made the business case for diversity to senior leadership at Legacy Health that led to the formalization of a diversity commitment by the CEO and senior leadership to intentionally and purposely advance our progress in the area of diversity and inclusion. She is the co-chair of the system wide Diversity Advisory Council for Legacy Health, a 26 member council that serves to lead the diversity work plan for the organization.
Prior to Legacy, Sheila has had prior experience in various organizations in the areas of human resources, business operations, sales and career coaching.
Sheila holds a MBA from Portland State University and earned her Bachelors of Science from Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland Oregon and has a clinical background.
Vicki has lived and worked in the Portland area since 1967. She is 3rd generation (sansei) Japanese American.
Vicki currently serves on the Board of Partners in Diversity and previously served as their first Executive Director. This non-profit program was founded in 2005 to help major employers in Oregon and Southwest Washington to increase opportunities to attract, hire and retain a highly talented and diverse workforce. One of the programs supported by Partners in Diversity is Say Hey, NW, a quarterly networking reception sponsored to welcome new professionals of color relocating to the area.
Chief Executive Officer
Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest
Andy Nelson is a community leader dedicated to improving the lives of children, especially facing challenges. Andy has served as CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest since 2012. He’s Big Brother to 12-year-old Margarito and leading the organization’s effort to build the pipeline of high school graduates in the Portland-Vancouver region.
Andy also chairs the Portland Parks Board, advising the city about a range of park and funding issues. A Board member with Oregon Mentors, Andy also serves on the advisory board for Partners in Diversity.
A native of New England, Andy earned a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Connecticut and was a 2008 graduate of Leadership Portland. He lives in Northeast Portland.
Vice President of Organizational Development and Culture
United Way of the Columbia-Willamette
Rekah Strong, MSW, is the new Vice President of Organizational Development and Culture at United Way of the Columbia Willamette. Prior to United Way Rekah was the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Clark County. Rekah has earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in social work (administration) from Portland State University. She is currently continuing her studies at Portland State, pursuing a Ph.D. in social work.
For more than a decade, Rekah has worked with public and private agencies, developing strategies to improve organizational cultural humility. As a Diversity and Inclusion practitioner Rekah has lead organizational efforts to integrate diversity and inclusion measures into policy and producing measurable outcomes.
Rekah has a strong commitment to volunteerism in our region and in 2012 she became the first African American to serve on the Clark College Board of Trustees and she is currently the co-chair. She is also a board member for We Reign youth program. Rekah has served as an advisor for the American Society for Training and Development Cultural Competency Team, a board member and diversity team chair for the American Red Cross of Southwest Washington and a personnel committee member for YWCA Clark County. She has also served on the Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest African American Advisory Committee, the City of Battle Ground Diversity Task Force, and the Portland State University GPVI project and Social Justice Committee.
She is a recipient of the 2008 NAACP Diversity Leadership Award, 2009 YWCA Val Joshua Racial Justice Award, 2009 Delta Woman of Excellence award for social justice, 2009 National Association of Counties Program Award for Diversity and Inclusion, 2010 Urban Entrepreneurs Network Community Vanguard Award and the 2010 Vancouver Business Journal Accomplished and Under 40 award.
Director, OHA Office of Equity and Inclusion
Oregon Health Authority
Under Ms. Tillman’s leadership since 2009, the Office of Equity and Inclusion has elevated the mandate for health equity and civil rights in Oregon’s health system transformation efforts. The Office of Equity and Inclusion increased state funding for culturally specific community organizations to promote health and well being, created opportunities for highly qualified and diverse health professionals to serve in policy leadership roles, and advanced the creation and implementation of policies that promote equity and civil rights in health and human services.
She continues to work with OHA leadership to ensure that health equity and culturally and linguistically appropriate service standards are a strong part of Oregon’s health reform and to advance the integration of community health workers, doulas and other “traditional health workers” in the integrated health team.
Ms. Tillman’s goals throughout her career have been to promote a highly qualified, diverse workforce, to engage communities experiencing disparities in promoting health and well-being, and to reduce social inequities. She has worked in various capacities in maternal, child and community health over the last 20 years, coordinating efforts to improve the health of culturally diverse communities in Arizona, Massachusetts, and Oregon.
Vice President, Utility Operations and Chief Engineer
Grant Yoshihara is responsible for overall management and coordination of utility operations for NW Natural, a local natural gas distribution company headquartered in Portland, Oregon serving 680,000 customers in the Northwest Oregon, Southwest Washington area. Grant has over 30 years of experience in the energy industry. He spent 12 years in the electric utility and independent power development industry before joining Northwest Natural in 1991. Prior to his current assignment at NW Natural, he has managed gas supply contracts, major accounts, commercial services, marketing, sales and advertising, construction operations, and customer service. He is also involved in supporting several community and charitable organizations and has been or currently is a board member of Volunteers of America Oregon, Japan-America Society of Oregon, the America Leadership Forum, and Community Vision.
Grant earned bachelors and master’s degrees in nuclear engineering from Oregon State University and an MBA from the University of Oregon. He is a licensed professional mechanical engineer in the State of Oregon.