CHRIS AND TOM NEILSEN
2020 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraisers
Resources and influence did not come by chance for Chris and Tom Neilsen; rather they were earned from a lifetime of strong work ethic, a deep understanding of true human connection, and their self-imposed duty to serve their communities.
When the Neilsens commit themselves to a mission, they give of themselves in every way they can. As co-chairs of the Portland Community College Foundation’s first-ever comprehensive campaign, Chris and Tom thoughtfully and strategically led the volunteer committee to success and helped the campaign exceed its goal by $5 million – two years early. Team members noted it was never surprising to hear of the Neilsens making major asks of their peers in the same week they were baking homemade goodies for staff and they were just as likely to deliver a poignant address to 150 people at a house party as they were to offer help cleaning up afterwards.
Their engagement in the community has been extensive: All Hands Raised, City Club of Portland, City of Salem, Oregon Harbor of Hope, Literary Arts, Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon Historical Society, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Salem Area Chamber of Commerce.
Additionally, the pair volunteered to lead the fundraising campaign to save and renovate the Elsinore Theatre in Salem, as well as provided leadership for the development of a new space for the Portland CoCareer Technical Education Center/Salem-Keizer School District.
“The Neilsen’s deep level of commitment to the Elsinore extended to every corner of our campaign work. Chris served on the board of directors while Tom stepped in as the Executive Director during a period of significant transition,” said Tom Fohn, Executive Director of Elsinore Theatre.
Chuck Lee, founding leader of the Career Technical Education Center in Salem, said it best: “There are donors, there are do-ers, and there are door-openers. Chris and Tom are all three.”
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