Council for Economic and Racial Equity

Mayra Arreola, Director of Equity, Governance and Communications, 503-823-3237 or email
Court Morse, Equity and Inclusion Program Manager, 503-823-3193 or email

The Prosper Portland Council for Economic and Racial Equity (CERE) is a group of individuals who have unique skills, experience, and expertise in the development and implementation of equitable economic development, and who advise and guide our agency in achieving our equity goals.

With the adoption of the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan by the Prosper Portland Board of Commissioners on May 13, 2015, the agency committed to build an economy that works for everyone, especially for communities of color and communities that have not traditionally benefitted from economic opportunities. Prosper Portland’s Equity Policy plays a critical role, ensuring implementation and monitoring of agency wide equitable practices.

Roles and Responsibilities

Members are entrusted to oversee the implementation and assess the progress of Prosper Portland’s Equity Policy. They will help to ensure racial and economic equity are the primary lenses used in Prosper Portland’s policies, programs, projects, and strategies to advance equitable outcomes. Initially, the major responsibilities will be to:

  • Ensure the agency is accountable to its Equity Policy and to assess its progress in meeting its goals.
  • Provide oversight on public benefit agreement frameworks for the City of Portland’s Enterprise Zone Policy
  • Review and provide input on quarterly Prosper Portland outcomes and impact reporting
  • Identify potential partnerships and assist in making connections between Prosper Portland historically underserved populations (or communities).


Prosper Portland announced a call for nominees to serve as members of CERE and received a robust response from an excellent group of applicants with the skills to ensure racial and economic equity are the primary lenses the organization uses in its policies, strategies and projects to advance equitable outcomes. CERE members represent diverse backgrounds, experience or expertise relevant to delivering on equity initiatives and outcomes in community and economic development, including:

  • Culturally responsive service provision and policy making
  • Small business development
  • Diverse contracting and workforce
  • Public benefit agreements
  • Community leadership and engagement
  • Workforce development and hiring

Members of CERE reflect Portland’s racial demographic makeup (i.e., diversity in ethnicity, age, gender, and geography).

Rana UzzamanProgram Director, Portland Youth Builders
CERE Chair

Rana joined PYB in 2012, following eight years of clinical work in New York City. Rana has extensive experience in collaborative problem solving/ solution-focused therapy as well as narrative therapy, individual and family clinical based focus, case management, clinical diagnosis and treatment planning, and is currently working on developing a culturally competent clinical model that focuses on multiple identifying factors and their impact through his new clinical approach due to the lack of multi-layered equity found in current clinical modalities. Rana earned his master’s degree in Social Work from Hunter College of The City University of New York and his Licensed Master of Social Work from the Oregon Board of Clinical Social Workers.

Michael Burch

Community Relations/Outreach Representative, Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters

Michael A. Burch is a native Oregonian. He attended Highland Elementary, now King School, graduated from Benson High and earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Oregon. He served six years in the Air Force Reserves during the Vietnam era.

He worked for 20 years in the nonprofit and alternative school arena, primarily with Portland YouthBuilders (PYB), an alternative high school designed to serve low to very low-income young adults between 17 and 24 years of age. Based on a national model, PYB is a high school completion and construction trades/computer training program.

He has held his current position since November 2010, serving members of the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters in Oregon and SW Washington. He is actively involved in educating the community about the opportunities and benefits of a career working in the construction trades as a carpenter, with a focus on low-income women and ethnic minorities. He currently sits on two Joint Apprenticeship Training Committees and is a board member for PYB, Constructing Hope and All Hands Raised.

Freda Ceaser

Director of Equity and Inclusion, Central City Concern

Freda Ceaser began at CCC in 2004 worked her way from the front lines at Central City Concern’s (CCC) Employment Access Center to her current position of director of equity and inclusion. She has provided consistent leadership and involvement in CCC’s Diversity Committee over the last five-plus years and is instrumental in CCC’s ongoing equity and inclusion assessment work. Most recently Freda provided the vision and advocacy for Flip the Script, a new re-entry program for African-American clients that provides wraparound services with a focus on breaking the cycles that send people of color back to prison.

Freda is a lifelong Portland resident and earned her Master of Social Work degree from Portland State University. Her lived experiences, education and work in the trenches are the driving forces for her passion for promoting racial equity in the community.

Christine Chin RyanPresident, Synergy Consulting, Inc.

Christine Chin Ryan is a business owner, consultant and community activist. Her company, Synergy Consulting, Inc., provides comprehensive IT software solutions, as well as consulting services in the area of equity, diversity, inclusion, facilitation, board review, and political strategy. Christine currently is president of the Oregon Chapter of the National Organization of Women, chair of the Public Relations Committee for Asian American Unity Coalition, executive vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee Small Business Council, chair of the Oregon Small Business for Responsible Leadership (OSBRL), and a member of the Program Committee for 2020 National Civic Leadership Forum, I-5 Rose Quarter DBE/OJT Community Opportunity Advisory Committee, and the City of Portland Small Business Minority Evaluator Program.

Christine’s awards and recognition include the 1993 “OAME Spirit” award for entrepreneurship and support for all minority businesses sponsored by the Oregon Association for Minority Entrepreneurs; the U.S. Small Business Administration “Administrator’s Award for Excellence” in 1996; and the Asian Reporter Community’s Most Honored Elder Award in 2017. Christine attended and assisted with the local organization of Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies Portland Regional Leadership Academy in 2018.

Michelle DePassPortland School Board member, community activist

Michelle DePass is a Portland native, born within walking distance of her current home. She was elected to serve on the Portland Public School Board for a four-year term starting in July 2019.

She attended elementary school in Caracas, Guadalajara and Washington DC before returning to Portland to attend Jefferson High School. She graduated from the Metropolitan Learning Center, lovingly called “camp run amok” by her mother.

She is the mother of two boys ages 18 and 21, both Benson High School graduates. She got them to school late exactly once, and, and has cooked twice a day for their entire school careers.

She is passionate about education and children, fashion, architecture, cities, transportation, housing and addressing generational poverty.

She does not watch television, has above average parallel parking skills, loves to cook, bake and knit.

She is happy spending her days addressing gentrification, and her nights advocating for kids in Portland.

James FaisonOwner, Faison Construction

James Faison founded his concrete construction company, Faison Construction, in 2004. The company began as a flatwork company and moved into other aspects of concrete work such as footings, slabs, walls, highway bridges, end panels, barrier and general contracting. James has worked on every TriMet Light Rail project in the Portland area, supporting TriMet’s commitment to working with Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs), helping with their growth and providing mentorship where needed. The relationship between Faison and TriMet solidified as Faison’s reputation for excellence continued. In 2018 James became the president of the National Association of Minority Contractors, Washington chapter to further assist minority contractors reach their full potential. James has worked diligently to further the success of the minority community in Washington and Oregon.

Alexander FloresSr. Supply Chain Analyst, Daimler Trucks North America

Alexander Flores is a first-generation Salvadoran/Mexican born in Los Angeles, California. He has served on the board of Centro Cultural De Washington County since August 2014 and as president 2014 to 2018. He has lived in Washington County for approximately 25 years.

Alexander experienced firsthand the challenges of growing up in an immigrant family. He earned his G.E.D. from the University of Oregon at the High School Equivalency Program (HEP) and a bachelor’s degree in business management in 2008. Alexander participated in the Latino Employee Active Partnership (LEAP) at Daimler to promote better understanding of the Latino culture. He ran for the Oregon State Senate in 2018 and is currently on the Cultural Coalition of Washington County. Alexander attributes his success to the educational opportunities he was able to access and the support of his family and community. He devotes his time to providing more members of the community with access to education and opportunities such as STEAM that create pathways out of hardship.

Mary LiDirector, Multnomah Idea Lab, Multnomah County Department of Human Services

Mary Li has worked for Multnomah County since 1990 and describes herself as a proud bureaucrat!  She believes that it’s an absolute responsibility for government to address the role that policies, practices, and investments have played in creating the inequities experienced by our communities today.  By intentionally centering race in our work, we can take action that makes a difference in the journey towards justice.

Kheoshi OwensFounder and CEO, Empress Rules Equity Consulting

Kheoshi Owens is the Founder and CEO of Empress Rules Equity Consulting, a Black Woman owned MBE/WBE/ESB certified firm that works with organizations to create inclusive environments. We specialize in DEI (Diversity, Equity & inclusion) strategic planning, Executive Coaching, DEI workshops and facilitation training. Empress Rules facilitated services for organizations such as the Portland Children’s Levy, The City of Gresham, The City of Salem, Ethos Music Company, Global Works Community Fund and more. Empress Rules is a member of the Council for Economic and Racial Equity for Prosper Portland; the Diversity Advisory Council for Energy Trust of Oregon; a consultant for the Multnomah County Workforce Equity Strategic Plan and one of 4 DEI consultants selected to create the Equity Toolkit for organizations participating in the Portland Means Progress Initiative for the City of Portland.

Tyrone Poole President & founder, OneApp

Tyrone Poole is the driving force behind a movement designed to make applying for rental homes easier and more cost efficient for tenants while reducing the burden of paperwork for landlords. A powerhouse of energy and positivity, Tyrone’s journey has taken him from being a motivated student to EMT/Firefighter training to injured and homeless to housing advocate. He is the founder of OneApp.

Tyrone has won US and international innovation awards including the 1776 Challenge Cup Global Innovation Award: First Place People’s Choice Award and 5th Most Promising Tech Startup World-Wide, 2018 Business Journal Forty under Forty Award, 2018 Business Journal Executive of the Year, 2017 Fast Company United States Innovation Award, Oregon Entrepreneurs Network 2016 Wyatt Starnes Award for most promising early-stage tech entrepreneur. He won the Pitch Black contest in 2015. He has been featured on TEDx, serves on several boards, including empowering future leaders through REAP, and is the father of five daughters.

Oregon State Policy Coordinator

Ranfis VillatoroA son of two immigrants from Central America, Ranfis Giannettino Villatoro has dedicated the last eight years to work as a community organizer, workforce development coordinator, and grant writer/development director for immigrant and labor rights organizations.

Prior to joining the BlueGreen Alliance, he worked as a consultant for a coalition of community color organizations seeking a community benefit agreement on the Portland Harbor Superfund site and representing a growing minority contractor association aiming to build partnerships with labor and government agencies.

He received his bachelor’s of science in political science from the University of Oregon. In his free time, he enjoys the weather of the Pacific Northwest with his wife, two kids, and their dog Vincent.

Principal, Vibrant Future

Robin WangRobin Wang is the principal of Vibrant Future, a consultancy that focuses on deploying and managing capital that benefits the greater good. Previously, he was the Executive Director of Albina Opportunities Corp which provided capital and business advisory services to under-banked minority- and women-owned businesses in the Portland metro region. He has also owned a media business that promoted sustainable lifestyles through the American West. Robin lives in NE Portland with his family of 5 and serves on the Portland Clean Energy Fund Grant Committee.


CERE meetings are held the 4th Wednesday of every month.