Today we honor a tireless worker for social justice and equality, my very dear friend Kathleen Saadat. Born and raised in Missouri, Kathleen moved to Oregon in the 70s. She attended Reed College and received her BA in Psychology there. She held several managerial positions with the City of Portland’s CETA Job Training Programs in the 1970’s and 80’s and held the position of Executive Director for the Oregon State Commission on Black Affairs immediately prior to her appointment by the Governor as Oregon State Director of Affirmative Action in 1987. She managed the Youth Services arm of the Portland Urban League during the 1980’s.
Kathleen has worked in a wide variety of government positions and as an independent contractor. From 1997 until 2001, she was the Strategic Plan Coordinator for Multnomah County Oregon’s Department of Community and Family Services. During that time she also continued work as a private consultant and trainer in the areas of human diversity and organizational development and as a motivational speaker. She has served as a Commissioner on the City of Portland’s Human Rights Commission and should also be recognized for her amazing work to fight HIV and help those impacted by HIV.
Kathleen is a member of Class VI of the Oregon American Leadership Forum, a 1992 Fellow with the Advocacy Institute in Washington DC and recipient of fellowship to Hedgebrook Women’s Writers Retreat and a member of the 29th Street Writers. Her list of awards and accomplishments is too long to enumerate here but includes being listed as one of 100 Who Lead in Oregon by Oregon Business Magazine, a Harvey Milk Award, the Bayard Rustin Civil RIghts Award, and a lifetime achievement award from the World Arts Foundation in recognition of her contributions to the efforts to “Keep Living the Dream” of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Kathleen is concerned with social and economic justice, what happens to our children, and with the issues related to world peace. More than just concerned, she lives and breathes social justice. She is both passionate and compassionate, willing and able to speak her mind clearly but also able to help people move along their own path towards understanding. Her desire for positive social change is only matched by her generosity of spirit. Although she has retired from the formal work force, her passion and presence continue to be felt in myriad ways as she channels her powerful voice through her own wishes and time. Truth be known, while she purports to be retired, I look forward to her next project towards social justice.
I am privileged to know and honor her. Kathleen continues to help me learn how to build coalitions and bring disparate groups together–thank you, Kathleen. With love and admiration!