2018 Award Recipient: Sherrelle Jackson, LCSW

The Northwest Public Employees Diversity Conference is excited to announce this year’s winner of the Robert Phillips Regional Diversity Award: Sherrelle Jackson, LCSW.

Sherrelle Jackson has a long history of “leading in place,” championing equity and diversity initiatives as a senior leader in her branch of human services, which is Multnomah County’s Developmental Disabilities Services. In addition to her professional advocacy, over the past two years Sherrelle founded and implemented an inspiring non-profit venture for teenage girls, “Why I Rock,” which in the last year brought together nearly one hundred inner city girls of color (ages 10-15).

The conference “is the first to boast a celebration of historical and current women of color leaders from Portland. It’s the first that specifically focuses on young black/African-American girls.” The two-day-long Why I Rock Girls Conference exposes participants to college opportunities and role models. They attend classes on a college campus, in university classrooms, taught by experts in the field including professors, doctors, lawyers, principals, public health experts, and corporate executives. As Sherrelle likes to brag, “All the experts looked just like them.”

Working with Building Blocks 2 Success, Sherrelle was chief fundraiser, soliciting philanthropic donations from a host of different donors so that all participants could attend free-of-charge. She organized the venue for the conference and tapped her considerable social capital in the city of Portland to bring together an outstanding roster of local leaders. Most importantly, she had the vision, the drive, and the grit to make this inspiring and transformational event happen.

This award is named in recognition of Robert Phillips, Multnomah County Affirmative Action Officer, who has worked in the area of equal employment opportunity for over 25 years and has a long history of involvement in the civil rights field. As Director of Multnomah County’s Affirmative Action Office, Robert was responsible for the development of policy initiatives, plans and programs that promoted respectful work environments for diverse employees and assisted the organization in meeting its equal employment opportunity and affirmative action obligations. Additionally, Robert served as a commissioner for the Port of Portland’s Civil Service Commission where he has served for 10 years. His community service includes appointments to the Nike Corporation’s Minority Affairs Advisory Board; Gubernatorial appointments to the State Commission on Black Affairs and the State Board to Register Clinical Social Workers; and service on the Oregon State Bar Affirmative Action Committee.

In 1996, the diversity program he managed for the City of Portland was recognized as a best practice model by People Management Resources, a division of Watson Wyatt Worldwide. Robert was also responsible for initiating the first national conference on performance measures for diversity programs, sponsored by the National Quality Institute. In addition, Robert was a recipient of the 2009 Arthur Flemming Award by the Multnomah County Managers of Color, the Oregon assembly for Black Affairs Political Development Award, the Northwest Conference of Black Elected Officials Leadership Award and the 2009 Northwest Public Employees Diversity Conference Robert Phillips Regional Diversity Award. He was the first public sector African American graduate of the Center of Creative Leadership’s African American Leadership Program.

The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners proclaimed February 28, 2012, as Robert Phillips Appreciation Day in Multnomah County, Oregon. In retirement from Multnomah County, Robert has an encore career during which he will serve as a member of the NW Renal Patients Advisory Board; the Oregon Assembly for Black Affairs Political Convention Planning Committee and the Port of Portland Fire Department Civil Service Board.

This award was created to honor his many contributions in the field of equity for all.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
— Mahatma Gandhi


  • 2013 - Carole Smith, Portland Public Schools

  • 2012 - Loretta Young, City of Portland

  • 2011 - Donny Adair, City of Portland

  • 2010 - Vera Pool, Multnomah County

  • 2009 - Robert Phillips, Multnomah County

  • 2017 - Som Nath Subedi, City of Portland

  • 2016 - Kory Murphy, Multnomah County

  • 2015 - Procurement Services, City of Portland

  • 2014 - Victoria Cross, Multnomah County