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Portland Stories: Graciela Gomez Cowger, CEO, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt

Portland Business Journal

March 15, 2021

Overview

When I moved to the Pacific Northwest over two decades ago, something truly shocking happened. I received a welcome basket on my front porch from the neighborhood. It had a bottle of wine along with some delicious cheese, crackers and bread.

What I found most incredible at the time was the basket also contained a list with everyone's names, addresses and phone numbers on the street. It was extraordinary that my new neighbors, who didn't even know me, were already ready to lend a helping hand if needed.

This sense of community, helpfulness and generosity is part and parcel of the Pacific Northwest spirit. It's also a big reason why I've now lived here longer than I have lived anywhere else and why I'm not going anywhere anytime soon.

Our sense of community combined with a whole lot of grit and determination is what makes the Pacific Northwest so incredibly special. After all, we suffer the indignities of nine months of rain and grey skies yet manage to remain incredibly kind and optimistic.

What gives me hope for Portland is seeing the same spirit of community I saw on my front porch the first day I moved to the Pacific Northwest become even stronger today. Amid multiple crises colliding in our city this last year, we haven't lost sight of what matters, the strength of our belief in the common good.

I see it in our employees' eyes, who are working tirelessly to help our clients and the broader community navigate such uncertainty. I see it in our clients' hearts who use their businesses to move the dial and innovate for good in this unprecedented time.

I am inspired to hear stories of clients creating lifesaving tech, pivoting production to make very important PPE and masks, supporting our incredible first responders, and so much more.

Last but certainly not least, I see this spirit of community in the souls of everyone fighting to dismantle systemic racism and prejudices that undeniably exist. Because of this sense of community, combined with a lot of grit and determination, I know Portland will persevere, coming back stronger than ever.

A version of this article was originally published in the Portland Business Journal.

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