Bill Scott, co-chair of the SUN Service System Coordinating Council is being honored with the 2015 Gladys McCoy Award.
Bill is a founding member of the council and spends about 200 hours a year serving the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) Service System, a partnership between Multnomah County, the City of Portland and area schools to provide a platform and delivery system for educational, social, health and other services.
“We’re trying to make sure that every child, family and neighbor has access to the support they need,” he says. “It’s just interesting. I care about it. It’s how I want to spend my time.”
Since the council began, SUN school sites have grown from 8 to 81.
“Bill’s steady championship of this work has contributed to both its success and growth,” the SUN staff said in the McCoy nomination letter. They pointed to his “tireless advocacy” for building relationships and his fearlessness at overhauling systems.
Many people define themselves by their careers. Not Bill Scott.
A young lawyer practicing at Rives, Bonyhadi & Drummond (now known as Stoel Rives), he spent his nights and weekends rallying against the Vietnam War and campaigning for a young Neil Goldschmidt, who became a Portland city councilor and then mayor.
He followed Goldschmidt to City Hall, working as his chief of staff during the day and volunteering in his own children’s schools in his free time. He sat on the Board of Education for Portland Public Schools as the city grappled with how best to desegregate the schools.
After serving six years in City Hall, Scott took at job directing the Institute for Oregon Policy Studies at Portland State University. But after the rush of politics, the job proved a bit too tame for his liking.
He went on to work for Pacific Corp, where he stayed for more than a decade, heading up a series of subsidiaries. During that time he ran Goldschmidt’s 1986 campaign for governor, sat on the board of the Oregon Symphony Foundation, chaired the Leader’s Roundtable, and the Institute for Oregon Policy Studies.
Bob McKean, the retired superintendent of Centennial School District, sat with Scott on the Leaders Roundtable. He said Scott had always been gracious with him time and dedicated to making a difference.
“He’s a very bright guy, very witty. He’s terse - in a good way,” McKean says with a chuckle. “He wants to get to the point. But he’s a gentleman. He’s a very gentle man.”
Bill Scott left Pacific Corp and moved to Oregon’s Department of Economic and Community Development, where he served as director for nine years. It was there that he learned a skill that served him well on the board of the SUN Community Schools -- how to bring agencies together to solve a common problem.
There he carried out President Bill Clinton’s Northwest Forest Plan, which called for severe limits on timber harvests and reinventing the economies of many small Oregon towns. And he needed help from federal, state and local partners. “I learned a lot about partnerships,” he said.
Schott returned to the private sector in 2002 to launch Portland's ride-sharing company Flexcar, which later merged with Zipcar. As he managed first one, then the other car-sharing companies, he also returned to much of the volunteer work he had to set aside while he was traveling across the state for the Department of Economic and Community Development.
When Ted Wheeler was elected as chair of the Multnomah County Board in 2007, he convened a board to rethink the SUN partnership, which was struggling to assure all partners were financially vested in its success.
“I sat on that,” he said. “I was part of that working group and I’ve been on the council since then.”
In addition to volunteering with SUN, Scott packs food boxes at Westminster Presbyterian Church, where he also sings in the choir. He supports the Bravo Youth Orchestra at Rosa Parks School, a program that he says joins his passion for music and his passion for education.
Scott is a compact man, fit from a lifestyle that makes him ready each year Cycle Oregon comes around. He’s lost count how many times he’s joined the rides; about 20, he says. He retired three years ago and has more time now to bike, to walk, to play piano. He cooks for his wife, Kate, who is still working. And he volunteers.
“Go visit a SUN site and you’ll see the kids. They’re getting a meal. They’re getting instruction in something they care about. They’re getting health care,” he says. “The need is so great. We need more and better support for families in raising their children, and SUN is a solution for today’s world in how the community can support those families.”