Employee Resource Guide: Nuts and Bolts Guide

This session will focus on the role and importance of Employee Resource Groups in governmental organizations and on Multnomah County’s efforts to expand the opportunities for participation through the development of a countywide policy that promotes engagement of employees, clarifies a broad vision for ERG contribution to the advancement of workforce equity, and creates dedicated and protected time for employees to participate.


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ABOUT BEN DUNCAN

Ben Duncan is the Chief Diversity and Equity Officer for Multnomah County. He has been with the county since 2004 when he began his career in Environmental Health as a community health worker. He has since worked as a health educator, policy analyst and manager of the Health Equity Initiative. In each of these roles, his work has always focused on the relationships between our social, economic, and environmental conditions and racial and ethnic disparities. 

Ben Duncan was a  founding board member of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, an organization that organizes low income and people of color to build power for environmental justice and civil rights in the community. He also serves on the Oregon Commission for Black Affairs, the Oregon Environmental Justice Task Force, and is Chair of Oregon Public Health Institute's Board. 

Ben Duncan lives with his better half, Dr. Katherine Rodela and their son Rudolfo, in SE Portland.

ABOUT VICTORIA CROSS

Since she started working at the Multnomah County in 2000, Victoria Cross has worked to link immigrant and refugee employees, as well as immigrant and refugee communities, to Multnomah County programs that serve them.

Born in Russia, Victoria graduated from the Moscow State University of Culture with a B.A. in Library & Information Science, and a minor in Nursing. She was chief librarian for the central library in a large Russian city. She also worked in a joint training center involving the Former Soviet Union, the United States, and various countries of Europe, Asia and Africa. Victoria moved to Oregon in 1998 with her husband, Richard, and her daughter, Olga. She quickly realized that reading American literature and watching American movies and television shows can only educate immigrants so much about what is in store for them in the American workforce. Refugees and other displaced people often experience hardships adjusting to their new culture, particularly at work. They face language gaps, along with different rules and customs.

 In 2011 Victoria founded, and remains the Chair of, the Multnomah County Employee Resource Group for Immigrants and Refugees. The group’s purpose is to identify challenges and opportunities faced by this diverse cohort; advance their knowledge about the American workforce and its culture; assist the group’s members in achieving their full potential through career development, celebrations, education, and mutual support; provide Multnomah County with a critical linkage to the diverse communities from which these employees come; and help prepare Multnomah County to meet future needs of this diverse workforce. 

In June 2014, her Employee Resource Group won an Achievement Award from National Association of Counties for creating safe space for immigrants and refugees employed by Multnomah County, enabling them to share experiences, support and suggest opportunities to improve their experience in the workforce. The group is the first of its kind in the United States and it serves as a teaching tool for other counties to increase awareness about immigrant and refugee experiences in a work environment, as well as out in the community.

Victoria Cross was honored with the Robert Phillips Regional Diversity Award at the Northwest Public Employees Regional Diversity Conference, where she was recognized for her pioneering efforts in promoting awareness about the needs of immigrants and refugees in the workplace and her success in founding Multnomah County Employee Resource Group for Immigrants and Refugees.

ABOUT ASHLEY CARROLL

Ashley Carroll is the Domestic Violence and Disability Program Specialist Senior at Multnomah County’s Youth and Family Services Division, and is the co-chair for the county’s IDEA Employee Resource Group.

Ashley received her Bachelor's and Master's in Social Work from Portland State University. Ashley has worked in the domestic and sexual violence field for the past ten years, mostly in a systems coordination role housed in local government. Ashley is an outspoken mental health advocate and serves as Vice President of Education and Support for NAMI-Clackamas. When Ashley is not working or speaking, you can find her enjoying time with her husband and two daughters, on her yoga mat, reading in the sun, or at the bowling alley.

ABOUT MERCEDES GUTIERREZ

My name is Mercedes Gutierrez born in Mexico and raised in California. I am the mother of two young adults who are my world. I am an MBA graduate and have a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services. I have over 15 years of experience of working for the community. I am currently working for Developmental Disabilities at Multnomah County. I am passionate about equity and diversity and believe that everyone should have the opportunity to reach their potential. I believe that together as a county we can make a difference and make a better world for those that are vulnerable.

ABOUT NATASHA DAVY

Natasha Davy is a Project Specialist Senior with Multnomah County's Health Department who serves as the lead staff for Multnomah County’s Community Health Improvement Plan's (CHIP) in partnership with Community Powered Change. The CHIP describes the priorities, goals, solutions, and resources for health improvement. Natasha is a part of Multnomah County’s Employees of Color (EOC) Employee Resource Group whose mission is to advocate for racial equity, inclusion and fairness in the workplace. The EOC has been the driving force around Multnomah County’s Workforce Equity Strategic Plan. Natasha has a Master’s degree in Public Health (MPH) from the University of South Florida, and has worked for the Health Department for 4 years.