The Gladys McCoy Lifetime Achievement Award is presented annually to someone with outstanding lifetime volunteer service dedicated to improving the county community.Portrait of former County Chair Gladys McCoy

The award was established in 1994 to honor Multnomah County individuals who have contributed outstanding community service and community involvement over their lifetime. The award is given to an individual who has exemplified the life of the late Multnomah County Chair Gladys McCoy by making major contributions to civil and human rights, racial justice, children and youth, family issues, local politics and government, environmental issues, and/or education.

Past winners have been substantially involved in one or more issues important to Chair McCoy and have a long history of volunteerism and community service.

Who was Gladys McCoy?

Gladys McCoy was Chair of the Multnomah County Board of County Commissioners from 1987 until her death in April 1993, having been elected to two terms. She previously served two four-year terms on the Commission representing North and Northeast Portland. Her first elected position was on the Portland School Board where she was a strong advocate for quality education. She was the first African-American to serve in these positions, and the first person of color elected to public office in Oregon.

Gladys was married to the late Senator William “Bill” McCoy, Jr., with whom she had seven children. Her activities centered around children, family and civil rights. She was Oregon’s 1980 Mother of the Year, nominated by the black inmates of the Oregon State Penitentiary. She also received many other honors, including the Oregon Assembly of Black Affairs Political Development Award.

Gladys’ legacy to Multnomah County includes her unfailing concern for children and the elderly, her successful efforts to make Multnomah County employment available to all persons, and her dedication to community involvement.

When is the award presented?

The Gladys McCoy Award is presented at Multnomah County's Annual Volunteer Awards, which are typically held in June. The recipients' names appear on a plaque on permanent public display in the Multnomah County Board Room.