Light a Fire

These 12 Local Nonprofits and Individuals Are Changing the World

These are the 2019 winners of Portland Monthly's 15th-annual Light a Fire Awards.

By Portland Monthly Staff August 30, 2019

Helping LGBTQ students feel safe in schools. Stewarding the conversation efforts for tens of thousands of acres around the Columbia River. Closing the opportunity and achievement gaps for historically underserved children. Creating social opportunities for seniors at a purpose-built diner. Improving the lives of women and girls throughout the state. Founding a foster care program for guide dogs. These are just some of the extraordinary tasks undertaken by the organizations and individuals we are honoring this year in our 2019 Light a Fire Awards.

How did we get here? Starting in December 2018, we began collecting nominations from our readers and the community, searching for people and nonprofits working to make our city and state better for everyone. This summer, our panel of judges—foundation, corporate-giving, and nonprofit leaders—selected each winner after scoring shortlisted entries and debating the merits of all the top-scoring nominations. The winners in our 12 categories will each be feted at our November gala award ceremony—our 15th Light a Fire ceremony—as well as featured in the magazine in that same month.

Here's our full list of this year’s winners:

Best New Nonprofit: The Immigrant Story

Leveling the Field: The Woman’s Foundation of Oregon

Most with the Least: Oregon Safe Schools

Caring for the Planet: Columbia Land Trust

Inspiring Creativity: Music Workshop

Game Changing Project: Meals on Wheels People / The Diner, Vancouver

Exceptional Community Contribution: KairosPDX

Extraordinary Volunteer: Debi Hays (Guide Dogs for the Blind)

Extraordinary Board Member: Becky Blumer (Store to Door)

Extraordinary Executive Director:  Shari Dunn (Dress for Success)

Young Leader: Margarita Gutierrez Lemus (College Possible)

Lifetime Achievement: Rupert Kinnard

Join us on November 21 for a night of heartwarming and humbling stories in recognition of the dedication of these incredible nonprofits and individuals—and look out for our November magazine to read more about the amazing work they do. Revved up to read about good works? Take some time to meet our 2018 Light a Fire honorees right now.

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