June 10, 2011

Dr. Keren Brown Wilson received the Citizen Involvement Committee's 4th Annual Sy Award at its annual celebration dinner on June 9th. Dr. Brown is the architect of the OR model of assisted living and known globally for her research on assisted living issues.The Sy Award is given in honor of Sy Kornbrodt whose passion and voice on behalf of underserved and under-represented citizens in Multnomah County is legendary.

Dr. Brown has dedicated her life to working on community-based care issues for 35 years. She is widely recognized as the architect of the Oregon model of assisted living and known globally for her research on a variety of assisted living issues. In 1981 she helped start the nation's first assisted living facility and four years later developed the first assisted living program reimbursed by Medicaid. From 1983 to 2000, Dr. Brown started several companies that developed and managed assisted living residences throughout the United States. She still serves as senior strategic advisor for Concepts in Community Living, a Portland-based company serving older adults in the Northwest and California. Currently, Dr. Brown is president of the Jessie F. Richardson Foundation, a charitable organization that provides technical assistance, training and research to empower local communities in the United States and abroad to build capacity and create sustainable solutions to support older adults, particularly those with very limited economic resources. She serves locally on the boards of Concordia University and Albertina Kerr. Dr. Brown has also worked with Portland State, Concordia and Pacific Universities to develop service learning programs to work with older populations in Latin America. She and her husband, Dr. Michael DeShane, are well known for their philanthropic support of higher education in Oregon and funding the “Aging Matters: Locally and Globally Initiative” at Portland State University.  

CIC Chair Brad McLean said, “[s]imilar to Sy, Keren has exhibited a lifelong commitment to increasing the well-being of some of Multnomah County’s community members who are most in need. She is as an excellent example of how one individual’s dedicated community service can significantly improve the lives of thousands of people.”

Dr. Brown stated, “I am honored and humbled to receive this award. I believe that people working together can achieve great results. By focusing on capacity building, whether in tomorrow’s future leaders or in those most impacted by issues, we strengthen our ability to develop sustainable solutions to issues faced by communities and society.”    

Past Sy Award winners include citizen involvement activist Moshe Lenske, Multnomah County Office of Citizen Involvement Director Kathleen Todd, and former Board President of the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization Thach Nguyen.