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October 14, 2017

2017 Robert Phillips Regional Diversity Award Recipient Som Nath Subedi



Som Nath Subedi


Som Nath Subedi is the Parks for New Portlanders Engagement Coordinator.

Since 2015, Som has served in this full time position. Som is a respected leader in the community, who brings passion and voice to the challenges, hopes, fears, and determination of people who have been displaced due to war and strife in their home countries.  Som received his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences from Tribhuvan University, in Kathmandu, Nepal and is currently pursuing another Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Portland State University.

Som has received numerous recognition for his work. This year, he received the Park Champion Award from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). In 2015, he received the Spirit of Portland Award for Innovative City Leader. He is also a two time recipient of the Portland Immigrant of the Year, and in 2013 he received the New Portlanders Award by Portland City Council.

Since his arrival in Portland in 2008, Som has been a tireless advocate for many immigrant and refugee communities in Portland and across the United States. Som came to Portland under the US Refugee Resettlement Program after being one of around 100,000 victims of The Kingdom of Bhutan’s “One Nation, One People” policy, which expelled his family from their homeland a quarter century ago. For almost two decades, he and his family lived in a Nepal refugee camp.

In his work, he has assisted new refugee families from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe transition into Portland neighborhoods, schools, and community networks.

The impact of Som’s efforts and contributions extend well beyond Portland. In his short time at Portland Parks & Recreation, he has created numerous community events such as Portlanders Stand with Refugee and Immigrants held on St. Patrick’s Day in East Portland that had over 1,000 attendees. He later organized the Walk with Refugee and Immigrants this August that had over 2,000 Portlanders come and affirm their desire to create a compassionate and welcoming Portland.

His work outside of the city include developing replicable models of successful integration of refugee and immigrants. One example of his work to empower newcomer communities struggling with the wounds of war and displacement, he has created an immigrant integration model that has become a national best practice and is being replicated among resettlement agencies across the US.

Aside from his devotion for his family, one of Som’s proudest moments was becoming a US citizen in 2013 – in the ultimate expression of immigrant optimism – he voted in local, state, and national elections for the first time. He even voted YES on the Parks Bond Measure. In Som’s words “I arrived to this country with only a plastic bag of clothes, 10 dollars in my pocket. I did my best to catch up with my American-born peers. I slept less, investing those hours into trying new things, inside of three years I bought a new house and a red new mustang. I learned about Portland’s vigorous mainstream and the city’s energetic ethnic minority communities and cultures, and built partnerships to add to the diversity of our great state.”


Reason for the Award

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.


Past Recipients








2016 – Kory Murphy: 2016 Award Insert



Procurement Services





2015 – City of Portland, Procurement Services: 2015 Award Insert












2014 – Victoria Cross: 2014 Award Insert



Carole Smith







2013 – Carole Smith: 2013 Award Insert










2012 – Loretta Young: 2012 Award Insert











2011 – Donny Adair: 2011 Award Insert











2010 – Vera Pool: 2010 Award Insert











2009 – Robert Phillips: 2009 Award Insert