Multnomah County Health Department
Since she started working in Health Department 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 Amercian 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.
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.
Partnering Agencies: Multnomah County, City of Portland, Clackamas County, City of Hillsboro, Portland Development Commission, Washington County, Metro, Clark County, Portland Public Schools, Home Forward, Department of Environmental Quality, Port of Portland, the Oregon Lottery®, City of Beaverton, Oregon Health Authority, TriMet, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, Bonneville Power Administration and Portland State University.
Download this year’s Robert Phillips Award Letter.
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