UGM's Bill Russell to be Honored as Portland's First Citizen


The Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors® (PMAR) is pleased to announce Bill Russell as the recipient of the 2018 Portland First Citizen Award. Russell will be recognized at the 89th annual Portland First Citizen Banquet on Thursday, April 26th.

The Portland First Citizen Award was created in 1928 by the Portland Realty Board (now PMAR) to honor civic achievements and business leadership within the community. It is considered one of Portland's most prestigious awards, and the individuals who have received it form an honor roll of the city's most prominent leaders during the last eight decades.

Bill Russell is the executive director at Union Gospel Mission of Portland. Russell is also the co-founder of Union Gospel Mission’s LifeChange addiction recovery program.

 “I’m truly humbled to receive this award. To me, the award represents the many years of hard work of Union Gospel Mission’s staff, volunteers and members of the LifeChange recovery program. I’m blessed to be part of Union Gospel Mission’s work in the community,” said Russell.

Russell started his career as a prosecuting attorney in Lewiston, Idaho. As he saw many cycle through a hopeless cycle of prison and addiction, he developed a desire to help people struggling with addiction.

Opportunity came when he met Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship in 1982 and became the organization’s regional director, overseeing programs in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

After leaving Prison Fellowship in 1989, he worked with Union Gospel Mission to form LifeChange – a unique recovery community of Union Gospel Mission that utilizes responsibility-based recovery. Russell became executive director of Union Gospel Mission in 1998.

Today, LifeChange has expanded to serve 50 men at the Mission’s downtown location and 38 women and children at the Mission’s facility in Beaverton. Union Gospel Mission serves over 250,000 meals per year to the homeless and people in need. In 2017, Union Gospel Mission launched Search + Rescue, a nightly outreach to the homeless helping meet essential needs and assisting them in finding pathways out of homelessness.