By Janet Goetze
For the Hollywood Star News
Edward Hill is the new executive director of Groundwork Portland, a non-profit organization advancing environmental and social justice. Cassie Cohen, who has been with the organization for five years, stepped down to deliver her first child.
Hill came to Portland in 2013 when he worked for the Portland Bureau of Transportation on comprehensive plan updates, neighborhood street projects and public engagement. He also did consulting work for Cogan Owens Greene, LLC, and the Portland African-American Leadership Forum. Originally from Chicago, he has lived in the Northwest since 1998.
Groundwork Portland, part of a national organization, started with a pilot brownfield site in Northeast Portland, Cohen said. With community involvement, the site became a communal garden and a learning and gathering space, she said. Now community members are working on additional brownfields in East Portland, Beaverton and Tigard, she added.
The organization’s jobs training program has enabled hundreds of youth to participate in environmental restoration and clean-up projects at schools, churches and parks in underserved neighborhoods, Cohen said.
Groundwork has helped bring together partners in the Portland Harbor Community Coalition, she said, to assure that Willamette River clean-up is equitable for all communities, including those impacted by harbor contamination.
Hill, who has a daughter in college, is a visual and ceramic artist who also enjoys outdoors activities. He identifies as Oneida, Mississippi Choctaw and African-American.