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Chair's Blog

Collaboration and creativity define our community November 2016
By DJ Wilson, KGW Media Group

Collaboration and creativity were consistent themes of the evening at the Alliance’s 2016 Business Leadership Evening event, held Nov. 1 at the Portland Art Museum. I look forward to this Alliance signature event every year given the focus on celebrating the role business plays in building a strong community, and this year’s event, with keynoter Dr. George Brown of Legacy Health, lived up to my expectations.
 
It was a privilege to host the event from the stage this year as we recognized one of our exceptional community leaders with the William S. Naito Outstanding Service Award. This year, the award recipient was Charles Wilhoite, managing director at Willamette Management Associates and a former Alliance board chair. I couldn’t have been more proud to give him the honor.    
 
Like many honorees before him, Charles embodies the spirit of this award, named after the late Bill Naito, who left a legacy as one of our city’s most civic-minded business leaders.
 
Those lucky enough to call Charles a friend, and there are many of you out there, know him as a quiet driver of change, a force for economic growth and a pillar of values in the community. He is also known as someone who works for equity and diversity in everything he does.
 
His footprint on the region is broad in his extensive commitments to education, health care, economic development and diversity. In addition to the Alliance, Charles has chaired the Portland Development Commission, Oregon Health & Science University, SMART – Start Making a Reader Today – and the Urban League of Portland boards. Currently, he chairs the Meyer Memorial Trust board of directors and has given time to the Federal Reserve Bank, the Nature Conservancy, the Legacy Health board, the Oregon State Bar and the Portland State University Foundation.
 
I’ve been on the Alliance board with Charles for many years, and I can tell you that in addition to his wicked sense of humor and a great sense of style, he is analytical, generous, kind and well respected in every corner of our community. For proof, just check out the evening’s hashtag on Twitter: #imwithcharles.
 
And, thanks to Charles, we had an intriguing keynote speaker for the Leadership Evening dinner: Dr. George Brown, president and CEO of Legacy Health. Dr. Brown spoke to two of the most pressing challenges facing our community: our housing and homelessness crises.  
 
Portland’s health care community has emerged with an extremely thoughtful and generous response to these issues. In January, Legacy Health in collaboration with Adventist Health, Kaiser Permanente and Oregon Health & Science University, will open the Unity Center for Behavioral Health, a patient-centered care facility for adolescents and adults experiencing mental health or behavioral challenges. The center has attracted top talent to the region and will be a welcome resource in our community, addressing a critical need we see around us every day.
 
In addition, just a few weeks ago Legacy, Kaiser, Providence, OHSU, Adventist and CareOregon, together donated a stunning $21.5 million towards developing affordable housing with Central City Concern. After deftly connecting the dots between access to mental health care, access to affordable housing, employment and the overall health of our community, Dr. Brown summed up the sentiment of these six amazing health care institutions with a simple phrase, “it was the right thing to do.” And he noted that collaboration makes a community stronger. Dr. Brown and Legacy are definitely examples of that!
 
It’s events like Business Leadership Evening that truly highlight the importance of partnerships between the business and civic community. For me, I will remember that the evening highlighted two of our community’s most imperative values: that we can and will be creative about how we tackle challenging problems, and that collaboration makes us stronger.
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