Drive for social change

Historically marginalized communities have a huge advocate in Cameron Whitten (’16). He’s spent nearly a decade fighting against social injustice through nonprofit leadership, grassroots activism, and political organizing.

He now works as Executive Director of the Q Center, an organization that offers acceptance, healing and inclusion for the LGBTQ2SIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit, Intersex and Asexual) community.

“It’s a gift and privilege to work on the front lines of such an important cause,” Whitten affirms. “The Q Center is a community organization that operates like a chosen family. If you’re in a crisis, our doors are open. We are here to answer the call of the community.”

Turning points

Ten years ago, Whitten made a bold choice for his future. At the age of 18, he hopped on a Greyhound bus, leaving behind Virginia and a life of dysfunction caused by childhood abuse. He made his way across the country  and eventually found himself in Portland, where he faced homelessness and stayed in a youth shelter. Whitten earned an associate degree from Portland Community College in 2013 and decided to complete his bachelor’s degree at PSU.

Meanwhile, he became active in the community. “I was volunteering for several non-profit causes and lobbying at the capitol during college,” Whitten recalls. “As a survivor of abuse, whenever I saw any injustice I was enraged. My passion for changing the world was above everything else.”

Whitten life’s direction was solidified when he joined the Occupy Portland demonstrations in 2011. “That was a turning point in my universe. Occupy Portland showed me that there were other people with strong convictions and it gave me a lot of hope,” Whitten says. “For the first time, I saw myself as a changemaker.”

Ways and means

To gain useful tools for public advocacy, Whitten obtained his bachelor’s degree in Economics. He received a scholarship through Willamette University where he’s currently earning an MBA. He also leads public speaking engagements and diversity consulting through a small business he founded in 2017 called Streams of Resistance.

Changing the world is no simple endeavor, but what keeps Whitten going are the opportunities to channel his personal insights and problem-solving skills to improve the lives of others.

“I want to be a positive influence to help people find love for themselves first, and then extend that love to each other,” he says. “My vision for the world is for everyone to thrive. I want to bring people together and galvanize solutions for our future.”