Painting by Akram Sarraj
Portland Meet Portland's staff and board bring an array of experience, diversity and knowledge to serve the mission of bringing people together to build cross-cultural community.
Manuel Padilla, Executive Director
Manuel Padilla holds a BA in Philosophy from Portland State University and an MA in peace, conflict, and development studies from the UNESCO chair for the Philosophy of Peace. He has done peace building and conflict transformation work with Refugees, IDP’s, and Immigrants in Washington D.C., Haiti, Chad, Cameroon, and Oregon. Manuel is passionate about creating opportunities and fostering dialogue for more just, vibrant, participatory, and integrated communities. He feels indebted to the beautiful refugee and immigrant individuals and communities that continue to educate him, challenge, and influence his work in cultivating cross cultural relationships and trust. The mission of Portland Meet Portland immediately called to him in its alignment with his core values and in his desire to bring together the global and the local toward complicating narratives and perspectives through shared human experience. In his free time, he jumps at chances to travel, be in nature, to bike, to explore the food landscape of Portland, play music, and to succumb to the peer pressure of his friends and sneak away for beers and community building. As Executive Director, Manuel is deeply grateful for the chance to learn from and work with his colleagues at Portland Meet Portland. He is eager for both the hard work and the celebration that are crucial for the seeds that PMP plants and grows, one relationship at a time.
Janell Lee, Citizenship and Civic Fluency Program Director
Janell Lee has extensive experience developing training programs and a passion for cultivating robust learning environments. Whether its in the physical classroom, or online in the virtual classroom, she strives for meaningful and effective learning opportunities for learning, by integrating experiential learning, brain-based learning, and participatory principles of adult learning. She began teaching ESOL as a volunteer at SE Works and at PCC SE Campus in 2014, and working specifically with the Myanmar community since 2015 when she was awarded an EPNO grant to provide citizenship training. Her recent experience teaching at IRCO exposed her to the array of newcomer refugees and asylees arriving in Portland from around the world, and the many language, cultural and economic challenges they face. Janell traveled to Egypt in 1996, and India in 1997 and 1999 on personal trips. Between 2011-2013, her work took her to Turkey, Nepal, Cambodia and Thailand; in 2012 she also visited Myanmar. Janell has always been passionate about social justice, and learning and is excited to join Portland Meet Portland and further its mission.
Ray Morris, Board Chair and Treasurer
Five days a week, you'll find Ray Morris behind the counter at Renaissance Cafe, a coffee shop he has operated for nearly a decade. The coffee shop is also home to Renaissance Church, which he pastors. The concept of the coffee shop is similar to that of Portland Meet Portland. It exists to bridge the cultural and religious divide between those in traditional Christian church and those outside of it. Ray believes that preconceived ideas are the root of bigotry and diverse relationships are its antidote.
A lifelong entrepreneur, Ray brings experience in small organizations, from the baseball card shop he opened just out of high school, to a financial planning practice, to a thrift store developed to benefit local nonprofits. Aside from Renaissance Cafe, his proudest role was that as co-founder of My Father's House, a Gresham shelter for homeless families.
A history of work focused on serving those in poverty, raising two disabled daughters, and taking in a troubled teenager as his own, reflect Ray's passion for the underdog.
Vincent Chirimwami, Board Secretary
Vincent Chirimwami is a native Congolese who immigrated to the United States in 2004. He was naturalized United Stated citizen in 2012. Many of the things that he has accomplished include receiving a B.A. in Liberal Studies from Portland State University and two Master's degrees in Education and Conflict Resolution from Portland State University. For the past 7 years, he has been working as secondary teacher at Beaverton School District and has co-published book chapters and journal articles related to dialogue and reconciliation process. Equally important, he is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Public Policy and Administration with a focus on Public Management and Leadership at Walden University. He is excited to join the Portland Meet Portland Board to contribute to its mission of welcoming and befriending newcomer refugees/immigrants from around the world in a sense that they feel at home.
Qudsia Ashan, Board Member
Susi Steinmann, Co-Founder
Susi is the Co-Founder and former Executive Director. She is now focusing her efforts on development for PMP. Susi grew up in Switzerland in a bilingual and multicultural household. She immigrated to the United States as a high school student and has personally experienced the adjustment challenges to a foreign, complex cultural and new language system in the United States. Like most newcomers, she never fully gave up her foreign identity and has pursued a lifelong passion for community building and working for the last thirty years with culturally and linguistically diverse populations – overseas in Africa and the Middle East, and currently in “her back yard” in the Portland area. Since 2008, Susi has worked with culturally diverse communities in Portland and has supported mutual the cross-cultural learning of immigrants and refugees in partnership with inspiring mentor-volunteers who have welcomed, educated and empowered newcomers from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. She believes that mentors together with their immigrant or refugee families build trusting relationships with are our community’s most important and least understood human assets for real community integration, development and peace.
Kay Reid, Co-Founder and Lived Citizenship Project Director
Kay Reid has devoted much of her life to seeking out and recording the unknown stories of individuals and organizations—what they have given this world, what they’ve fought for in bad times and good. She’s recorded and written the stories of legislators, oyster growers, and refugees. She’s told the stories of those who live on the town’s periphery and those in its centers of power. Kay has often worked in what Jane Addams called “the social claim” to achieve justice, fairness, and peace. She has directed several major oral history programs in the Pacific Northwest, including Great Tribal Leaders of Modern Times thorough the Hatfield School of Government, Portland State University. She has great admiration for individuals and families who have built their lives, dreams, and neighborhoods against unlikely odds.