Recognizing those who are making a difference for the underserved

For the 32nd year, the Trustees of the Lowenstein Trust are actively soliciting nominations for the annual Steve Lowenstein Award.

Steve specified in his will that the award recipient “shall be that person who demonstrated the greatest contribution to assisting the poor and underprivileged in the City of Portland, Oregon.”  The person chosen as the Lowenstein Trust Awardee is honored at a Portland City Council meeting where they share their story and receive a $10,000 honorarium. 
We hope you know someone deserving of this special recognition, a person who is working hard to help those most in need here in the City of Portland. We invite you to read additional information including the Nomination Letter from the Board, List of Past Award Recipients, and the Nomination Form (downloadable Word doc), also available to fill out online here.
Completed nomination forms can be submitted online, emailed to mgoracke@oregonlawcenter.org or sent by U.S. mail to
The Lowenstein Trust, C/O Charles Williamson, 5304 SW 34th Place, Portland, OR 97239-1125
If you have submitted a nomination in the past, please consider re-submitting it with updated information. Many of our honorees have been selected on their second or third nomination.
Thank you for your time. 

Dr. S. Renee Mitchell

Award Recipient of the 2023 Annual Steve Lowenstein Award

Dr. S. Renee Mitchell

The Lowenstein Trust is very proud to announce the recipient of its 32nd annual Steve Lowenstein Award to Dr. S. Renee Mitchell. Dr. Mitchell is being recognized for her immeasurable work to instill hope, courage, and healing among Portland’s African American community and beyond.

Dr. Mitchell has demonstrated a long-term and deep commitment to Portland’s African American community, working for decades as a journalist, author, poet, playwright, and educator. Having survived a lifetime of trauma, Dr. Mitchell draws from her experiences and applies them for the good of others. Known affectionately as “Dr. Renee,” she is described as a treasured gift in the community who empowers so many others. She consistently identifies opportunities and creates programs that both inspire and heal, enabling those she engages with to move through their challenges and find hope.

Dr. Mitchell’s vision, combined with her commitment to community, helped create the Soul Restoration Center, a place where low-income youth of color come together, find their voice, and clarify their purpose. In early 2022, Dr. Mitchell transformed a neglected building in gentrified NE Portland into a new home and vibrant cultural gathering place for the Soul Restoration Center. This is where Black people of all ages experience what it feels like to be culturally seen, centered, and authentically supported. The Center is also being recognized for its extraordinary capacity to convene, celebrate, and build a strong sense of community.

Dr. Mitchell has been described as a person who leads with love and compassion and whose influence is both far-reaching and lasting. Her sense of purpose and perseverance is devoted to recognizing and nurturing the rich opportunities of African American, instilling pride within the larger Black community. As one nominator described, “Dr. Renee is a treasured gift in our community who has inspired and empowered so many others.” You can read more about Dr. Mitchell on her website: https://www.reneemitchellspeaks.com/

The Award was presented at a meeting of the Portland City Council on February 7, 2024.  You may watch by clicking this link: City Council Sessions Video.  The presentation begins at about 58:00.

photos by Antonio Harris

Steve Lowenstein
Steve Lowenstein

Each year, the Lowenstein Trustees solicit community members to identify an individual whose contribution to people in need within Portland upholds the spirit of Steve Lowenstein’s memory. In his will, Steve specified that the recipient of the annual Lowenstein Trust Award “shall be that person who demonstrated (in the opinion of the Trustees) the greatest contribution to assisting the poor and underprivileged in the City of Portland, Oregon. “

We look for someone who has dedicated themselves to a particular cause that benefits others. Often this person has been working for years behind the scenes in a volunteer capacity or receiving low compensation. The recipient must be in need of these funds to help carry on his or her work and must use the award to further the type of work for which it was given. The $10,000 honorarium is typically given to the individual and funneled through the organization affiliated with the award recipient to strengthen and continue their work. A list of past recipients can be found here.

In his own right, Steve Lowenstein was a model of public service. Steve joined the Peace Corps after law school in the early 1960s and wrote a textbook on Ethiopian law. He worked in Washington DC for the Office of Economic Opportunity and in Chile for the Ford Foundation. He was founding Director of Oregon Legal Services, authored a groundbreaking history – The Jews of Oregon 1850-1950 – and at the time of his death in 1990, had served for six years as Executive Assistant to former Portland City Commissioner Mike Lindberg. Steve’s sense of purpose, integrity and perseverance inspired many of us who have worked on human rights and social justice issues.

For more information about The Lowenstein Trust you may email pdxmargie@gmail.com or write:

C/O Charles Williamson
5304 SW 34th Place
Portland, Oregon 97239-1125

Art Alexander, Ronault LS Catalani, Jamaal Folsom, Monica Goracke, Michelle Harper, Margie Harris, Joe Hertzberg,
Marc Jolin, Paul Kelly, Adrienne Livingston, Xavier Pierce, Shelli Romero, Charles R. Williamson

Honorary Trustees
Sandra Haefker, Daniel Jacobs, Mike Lindberg, Chris Lowenstein, Lee Rosner, Kris Wilkinson 

In Memoriam
Nick Fish, Gretchen Kafoury, Ron Paul