Linda Castillo Named 2019 Nohad A. Toulan Urban Pioneer for Public Service
Author: College of Urban and Public Affairs
Posted: June 20, 2019
The College of Urban and Public Affairs (CUPA) at Portland State University is excited to announce that Linda Castillo has received the 2019 Nohad A. Toulan Urban Pioneer Award for Public Service. Castillo has dedicated more than 23 years to serving communities of color in various capacities through local governments and nonprofits in Oregon. Under her leadership, numerous organizations have worked together to improve the lives of underserved individuals.
Castillo was one of the founding board members of Latino Network, an organization that plays a vital role in breaking the cycle of poverty and empowering Latinx communities to pursue leadership roles. During her time as the director of Latino Network’s UNID@S leadership development program and Academia de Líderes (Leaders Academy) she trained future leaders, brought attention to important policy issues and increased community engagement and participation in governmental jurisdictions and advocacy platforms.  As coordinator for the New Portlanders Programs in the Office of Community and Civic Life, she serves diverse communities through partnerships with a multitude of refugee and immigrant organizations and facilitates the inaugural work of the New Portlander Policy Commission.

Four years ago, Governor Kate Brown appointed Castillo to serve on Oregon’s Commission of Hispanic Affairs (OCHA), and nearly two years ago, she became the chair of the commission. In this capacity, she and fellow commissioners have provided testimony and advised legislators on issues like Driver's Licenses for All (HB 2015), improving mental health services for Latinos, governmental equity practices and climate change. She works with several stakeholders in the region to advocate and ensure the needs of the Latinx community are met. Under her leadership, the commission is launching the first-ever research report on Latino mental health and equitably addressing these needs in the state of Oregon.

“She has no expectation of being recognized for her work,” says her nominator, Jennifer Martinez, a PhD student in the College of Urban and Public Affairs. “She continues to show up—in every sense of the word—because she’s a fierce advocate who truly believes that collaboration can help communities overcome cycles of systemic oppression.”

Through her leadership on the Oregon Latino Agenda for Action Board, Castillo helped organize the first-ever Latinx Institute for Public Service. She has similarly been able to share her foresight and vision to help several other organizations make their marks in the region, including Bienestar de la Familia, Coalition for Latino Education, Portland School Foundation’s All Hands Raised, MANA de Portland and Community Education Partners.

The Nohad A. Toulan Urban Pioneer Award for Public Service is presented annually to a civic leader who values public service, provides valuable insight into local and regional urban problems, and creates visionary responses to urban issues—thus contributing to Portland's reputation as a vital and thriving urban center.

The award is named after CUPA’s founding dean, an internationally-recognized urban planner who was instrumental in the creation of Portland’s University District and the emergence of PSU as a community-engaged university. He was an adviser to the United Nations Development Programme and local and foreign governments on development issues. He was also a member of the committee that drafted the Portland Urban Growth Boundary, and he chaired numerous task forces for the City of Portland.

Castillo formally accepted her award at CUPA’s Hooding Ceremony for master’s and PhD students on Friday, June 14 at the Portland Art Museum.