Salem, Ore. – Chuck Sams of Pendleton and Gayle Yamasaki of Klamath Falls are the newest members of the Oregon Cultural Trust board. The appointments were announced at the Dec. 11 Cultural Trust board meeting; Sams and Yamasaki were nominated by Gov. John Kitzhaber and confirmed by the Oregon Senate. At the same meeting, board member Carole Morse, the former longtime president of the PGE Foundation, was unanimously approved to succeed Bob Speltz as chair of the Cultural Trust board.
“We are excited by these appointments,” said Kendall Clawson, Gov. Kitzhaber’s deputy chief of staff and arts and culture policy adviser. “Chuck is a recognized leader in Native American conservancy efforts and Gayle has tremendous experience, passion and influence in the state’s education field.
“We also are extremely proud and grateful to have Carole Morse agree to serve as the Trust’s next board chair. Her track record as a cultural advocate and fundraiser is unparalleled. For her to make the Trust one of her priorities is a tremendous gift. We thank Bob Speltz for his leadership and service and are fortunate to have the mantle passed between two such steady hands.”
Sams, the director of communications for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, grew up on the reservation where he is enrolled Walla Walla and Cayuse, with family ties to the Yanktonia Sioux and Cocopah Tribes. After graduating from Pendleton High School he joined the U.S. Navy, graduating with honors from the United States Navy Intelligence Training Center A School. He spent several years in Naval intelligence, then returned home in 1992 to begin a dedicated conservancy career. In 2000 he received a U.S. President’s Service Medal from the White House and the Points of Light Foundation for his work on salmon restoration in the Columbia River basin. He also was honored as a 2011 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award finalist for his dedication to the repatriation of conservation and cultural lands to tribes.
“Oregon’s diverse culture is to be celebrated and the Cultural Trust supports visionary Oregonians and cultural organizations that keep our heritage alive,” said Sams. “Being able to serve as a member of the board is an honor and privilege and I look forward to sustaining the great work happening across our state.”
Yamasaki is an education and cultural leader in Klamath Falls and southern Oregon. She is currently the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program coordinator for the Klamath Falls City School District and an advocate for the arts, culture and heritage through her role as a “story catcher.” Most recently, she has led two projects focused on intergenerational and cross-cultural education programs. In 2007, Gayle worked with the Oregon Institute of Technology on “Voices: A Legacy of Hopefulness” to connect students and tribal elders through a photography project. In 2013, she led “Breaking the Silence: The Power of Voice,” an interpretive student visual art project using Japanese American experiences/stories from the Tule Lake Segregation Center.
“My goal is to increase access for rural and at-‘promise’ youth to the arts,” said Yamasaki, “to have them take part in the richness of culture, art and heritage that is not only reflective of who they are but what they can be.”
Morse retired as president of the Portland General Electric Foundation in May after almost 19 years of service. Her work with PGE’s Foundation and as its community investments manager received national and regional attention, including a Business for Culture and the Arts Top Ten award — recognizing the top 10 companies in the country that support the arts — and a 2001 Oregon Governor’s Arts Award. Morse serves as immediate past chair on the board of All Hands Raised and currently chairs the 50th Anniversary Gala for Portland Opera (scheduled for June of 2015). She has been honored for her arts advocacy by Oregon Children’s Theatre, Young Audiences of Oregon/SW Washington, the National Association of Counties and Multnomah County. In 2013, she received the Ron Schmidt Community Involvement Award from the Public Relations Society of America and the John Hampton arts leadership award from BCA.
“Having been a Trust advocate since its inception, I am thrilled to be working with an incredible staff and board to encourage many more Oregonians to take advantage of the tax credit so that we can achieve our goals of robustly supporting arts, culture, humanities and heritage in our beautiful state,” said Morse.
Sams and Yamasaki begin their four-year terms immediately. Morse assumes her role as chair of the Trust board on Jan. 1.# # #