Legislature pays tribute to Harold Williams, Sr., longtime PCC board member
Photos and Story by Kate Chester
On Monday, March 4, Portland Community College and the State Legislature will celebrate the life and work of longtime PCC board member and community leader Harold Williams, Sr.
Representatives Lew Frederick (District 43), Jules Bailey (District 42), Deborah Boone (District 32), Margaret Doherty (District 35), Val Hoyle (District 14), Alissa Keny-Guyer (District 36) and Brad Witt (District 31) are sponsoring House Concurrent Resolution 9 honoring Williams.
“Harold was larger than life in terms of service and dedication to Portland and Portland Community College,” said House Speaker Tina Kotek, who represents North and Northeast Portland, an area where Williams served as PCC board member. “Harold was an inspiration; someone we could all learn from and he is greatly missed.”
The tribute “Harold Williams Appreciation Day” will occur on the floors of the Legislature at the Capitol Building (900 Court Street NE). The special day will be attended by a group of nearly 30 colleagues and family, including PCC board members, campus presidents, community leaders from Portland, PCC district student council leaders, and key faculty and staff from the college.
“This bill is a tangible expression of how much we admired and appreciated Harold’s dedication and vision, for the benefit of PCC and the Portland community at large,” said Preston Pulliams, president of Portland Community College. “Harold was known as a tireless community leader through his work with the college, for his promotion of alternative programs that targeted at-risk students, for his volunteer outreach and for his commitment and involvement in local and regional politics.
“I am proud to be here today to honor a man I considered an advocate, a mentor, and most importantly, a friend,” said Pulliams.
Williams died on July 1, 2012, at the age of 69 from complications related to a stroke. The college celebrated Williams’ more than 50 years of service to the community with a memorial celebration the following week at the Cascade Campus, 705 N. Killingsworth St. He was appointed to the college’s board of directors in 1990 to represent Zone 2, which encompasses North Portland and portions of Columbia County. Williams was elected in 1991 and re-elected in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011. For all of his work at PCC, Williams was selected for the Association of Community College Trustees Pacific Region Trustee Leadership Award in 2010.
During Oregon Legislative sessions, Williams routinely testified on bills of significance to community colleges. His biggest contribution to the college was his work in bringing community college services to all parts of the college district, especially poorer, underserved parts of the community. And he was instrumental in pushing for a college policy that would ensure that PCC construction contracts would meet minority-contracting goals.
Williams was president of contracting firm CH2A Associates and a member of the Black Leadership Conference as well as The Urban League. A past chair of the Coalition of Black Men, Williams served on the board of the Oregon Community College Association. He served as Affirmative Action Director and Equal Opportunity Coordinator to former Oregon Governor Bob Straub. He was Labor Relations Manager for the State of Oregon Executive Department from 1979 to 1984 and served as a consultant to the Oregon Youth Authority from 1995 to 2006.
Plus, he was president of the Portland-area African American Chamber of Commerce, chair of the African American Committee of Community College Trustees, and a widely known motivational speaker. He worked on Portland Mayor Tom Potter’s Charter Review Commission and acted as a consultant to the Portland Development Commission in its efforts to expand minority and women-owned business contracts. Williams served on many advisory committees and volunteered hundreds of hours to civic, religious and cultural activities.
Additionally, he was known for his promotion of alternative programs for at-risk students. He was successful in expanding classroom space for mentorship programs for students of all ages. An example is Williams’ “Success Academy” where spiritual and cultural leaders come to assist PCC students who have been involved with the juvenile justice system.
“He cared about education and opportunities for youth, and he saw to it that access to these opportunities was available to them,” Kotek said.