UO Portland welcomes new professionals of color at Say Hey!

September 22, 2015 - 3:33pm

For newcomers to the Northwest, getting adjusted takes time.

It can be especially difficult for recently relocated professionals of color. Enter Partners in Diversity, an organization that partners with member employers in Oregon and southwest Washington to attract and retain professionals of color.

Recently, the group joined with the University of Oregon to host Say Hey!, a quarterly networking event designed to honor professionals of color and connect them with the local community. More than 300 people attended.

The event featured an address from Yvette Alex-Assensoh, the vice president of UO’s Division of Equity and Inclusion, who encouraged attendees to take full advantage of the evening’s networking opportunities.

“You your new support system might be in this room,” she said. “Someone you meet tonight could be the person who helps you get your foot in the door — the person who gives you your big break. Someone else might be the person you find yourself confiding in during the tough times and celebrating with during the victories. One thing is for sure, it is incredibly difficult to succeed all on your own.”

Following Alex-Assensoh’s address, Partners recognized 31 honorees, representing a variety of fields such as nursing, banking and fitness. Portland Center Stage’s James Dixon and Don Mason provided honoree introductions, entertaining the packed ballroom with off-the-cuff humor and theatrics.

While there was plenty of entertainment and most of the evening’s discussion was light, Alex-Assensoh made a point to highlight the underlying urgency of this and other such networking events.

“Building relationships is essential, but make no mistake, communities are about jobs,” she said. “It’s on us to do what we must to be successful, and then it’s our responsibility to pass that knowledge on to our successors. That’s how we create stability. That’s how we achieve equity.”

To learn more about Partners in Diversity, visit www.partnersindiversity.org. To learn more about the University of Oregon’s Division of Equity and Inclusion, visit http://inclusion.uoregon.edu.

—By Bruce Poinsette, Division of Equity and Inclusion