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Chair James Morris

James Morris, Portland

James is a South Carolina Native though, after living in Portland for 15 years he considers himself an Oregonian, born into a family of life-long educators.  His parents have engrained the importance of achieving an education in him since early childhood.   He is an Air Force veteran and attended a small liberal arts college in SC by the name of Lander University.

James believes in the importance of everyone having the opportunity to have a voice in the political process.  He also believes that the best way to make that happen is for people of conscience, from varied cultural backgrounds, to come together, break down barriers and work collaboratively towards common goals.



Vice Chair
Vice Chair Musse Olol
Musse Olol, Portland
Musse Olol was born and raised in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. He later immigrated to Oregon in the United States, where he would live for the next 33 years. He eventually became an American citizen.

For his post-secondary education, Olol attended the local Portland State University. There, he earned a degree in mechanical engineering.

Publicly, Olol is noted for his social work with the Somali American Council of Oregon (SACOO), serving as its Chairman and official spokesperson. His duties with the organization include volunteering as a counselor, facilitator, interpreter and co-sponsor. SACOO offers guidance to new Somali families and works closely with city, state and federal authorities to strengthen civic relations.

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Jamal T. Fox, Portland
Commissioner Jamal T. Fox 
Jamal Fox is the Property and Business Development Manager for Portland Parks & Recreation and Commissioner with the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs. Fox’s professional experience ranges from private sector to politics to education to government. In 2013, Fox was first elected to the Greensboro City Council representing District 2 as the youngest ever elected in Greensboro, NC. In 2015, he was re-elected to the Greensboro City Council and served through 2017. Prior to being elected, Fox worked for three years at the City of Greensboro in the City Manager’s office and the Department of Planning and Community Development. He is also a former North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University Political Science Adjunct Professor, Social Studies and Leadership Teacher with Guilford County Schools, community advocate, youth mentor, and political leader in North Carolina. Fox was born in Fredericksburg, V.A. and raised in Greensboro, N.C. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Capella University. Fox’s philosophy is to always believe in yourself, your dreams and to always strive to make a difference in the lives of others.

Commissioner Mariotta Gary-Smith 

Mariotta Gary-Smith, Portland
Mariotta Gary-Smith is a native of Portland, OR; & a 3rd generation social justice activist/agitator deeply committed to working towards social justice, public health & sexual equity, in particular for communities of color/ethnic identity.

In 2009, she helped co-found the Women Of Color Sexual Health Network (WOCSHN; www.wocshn.org), a domestic & international online resource collective for women of color sexuality professionals.

With over 15 years of experience working with diverse/multicultural communities and organizations on reproductive/sexual health and justice, sexuality & health education and harm reduction, Mariotta continues to advocate for & provides safe spaces for open discussion/collaboration, as well as presenting at professional conferences, conducting trainings & workshops that educate women and girls of color about identity, sexual health, sexuality, safer sex behavior practices & sexual health advocacy.

urrently, Mariotta serves as the ASHEP (Adolescent Sexual Health Equity Health Program) Health Educator in the STD/HIV Program for the Multnomah County Health Department in Portland, OR.


Commissioner Kayse Jama


Kayse Jama, Portland
Kayse Jama has led an incredible journey, fleeing war torn Somalia as a teenager to become a community organizer in Portland, Oregon. After Jama arrived in Portland, he returned to school and started working as a social worker for Lutheran Community Services Northwest serving as the African Youth Coordinator.
After the September 11 attacks, he decided to leave social work and founded the Center for Intercultural Organizing. Currently, Jama is the Executive Director of the CIO. Mr. Jama has trained immigrant and refugee community leaders in five Western states—Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah and Idaho under a New Voices Fellowship at Western States Center. He has also served as an adjunct professor at Portland State University. He was awarded the 2009 Lowenstein Trust Award, which is presented yearly to "that person who demonstrated the greatest contribution to assisting the poor and underprivileged in the City of Portland, Oregon."
 Commissioner Lawanda Joyce Manning
Lawanda Joyce Manning, Eugene

Lawanda Joyce Manning has been actively engaged in public service since she moved to Eugene, Oregon in 2007. She is deeply involved in strengthening public education systems, and is a strong advocate of social justice reform, equity treatment, and full healthcare for all Oregonians. She co-founded the Oregon Black Education Foundation (OBEF), a nonprofit that has awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships to underrepresented and low-income students to further their education or pursue a technical or skills trade.

Lawanda served as President of the National Association of Professional Women, Eugene/Springfield Chapter, and continues to serve as OBEF Board of Directors/Treasurer.  She has a background in the banking industry and international engagement working with the U.S. military (South Korea, Panama, and Puerto Rico) and Department of State American Embassy, Canberra ACT Australia.
Lawanda holds a Master of Business Administration from Northwest Christian University and a Baccalaureate of Science, Business Studies from Southern New Hampshire University.   

 Commissioner Nicole Rowe
Nicole Rowe, Portland
Nicole Rowe prefers to be known as a community liaison and philanthropy strategist. She spent several years prior as an educator and currently works for TriMet in Public Affairs. A Los Angeles native, she received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Southern California and Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy from Howard University. Nicole served as President of the Urban League of Portland Young Professionals and currently is Board Member of the Urban League of Portland. She is also on the Junior Associate Board for the Boys and Girls club and sits on the Citizen Involvement Committee for the City of Portland.
Additionally, Nicole is the founder of ChampEyeAm Consulting where she consults professional athletes to invest in strategic and meaningful community engagement opportunities. Overall her goal is to continue to engage in the necessary opportunities where she can apply her skills to be a service to others. She actively seeks growth in life by challenging traditional frameworks and is committed to learning how to self actualize humans fullest potential.
Commissioner Gwendolyn Trice
Gwendolyn Trice, Enterprise
Gwendolyn Trice, a native of La Grande Oregon, moved back to the country after a career with Boeing in Seattle. Gwen has dedicated the past several years to uncovering and documenting her family’s migration to the West -- African American loggers in search of promise in the early 1900’s. She is the founder and Executive Director of the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center, a federally recognized non-profit organization in Wallowa County.
Her experience growing up with a large family in eastern Oregon spurs Gwen’s commitment to infusing cultural history education opportunities to the core of Oregon’s curriculum standard.
Gwen’s experience and work in front of the camera plays a key role in her videography work providing a keen eye to the development of a legal video/audio, marketing and oral history business.
Oregon Legislative Assembly Representatives
Senator Rod Monroe  
Senator Rod Monroe
Senator Rod Monroe, D - Clackamas and Multnomah Counties, District 24 
Rod Monroe has been a life-long educator.  He taught high school and college and has served on the David Douglas School Board and currently is on the Mt Hood Community College Board.  Rod has been elected to public office 14 times.  He has served in the Oregon Legislature for 15 years and previously served on the Metro Council for 12 years.  Rod is an active runner and outdoorsman.  He currently serves as State Senator from District 24 (East Portland and Happy Valley). 

Representative Janelle Bynum 
Representative Janelle Bynum, D - East Portland, Damascus, Gresham, Boring, North Clackamas, and Happy Valley, District 51
Janelle Bynum is a Democrat from Happy Valley, Oregon who was elected State Representative for Oregon House District 51 in November 2016. In the Legislature she serves as Vice-Chair of the Business and Labor committee and sits on the Early Childhood and Higher Education committees. In addition to her duties as a citizen legislator, she and her husband own four restaurants in the Portland area.

Prior to becoming a business owner, Janelle worked in several capacities, including Summer Associate at Boeing Defense and Space Systems in Seattle, Washington, as well as a Steering Systems Engineer at General Motors in Saginaw, Michigan.  Her experience includes product development in hybrid vehicle technology and working with global electronics suppliers in Mexico, Taiwan, and France.

Janelle got her start in politics her senior year as Head of the Boarding School at the Madeira School in McLean, Virginia.

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