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The Portland Business Alliance came together at the art museum for its annual leadership evening.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Vanessa Sturgeon, TMT Development president.Portland's top business leaders came together this week to celebrate one of their own who's making a big difference in the city.

The Portland Business Alliance hosted its 2022 Business Leadership Evening on Wednesday, Nov. 16, with cocktails and dinner at the Portland Art Museum.

Attendees and speakers included Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, PBA President and CEO Andrew Hoan and University of Oregon Interim President Patrick Phillips.

The evening celebrated Vanessa Sturgeon, president and CEO of TMT Development, who received the William S. Naito Leadership Award recognizing the philanthropic efforts of a local business leader.

Sturgeon, also the founder of Sturgeon Development Partners, is involved in numerous community organizations, including serving as chair on the board of directors for nonprofit New Avenues for Youth and on the executive committee of the A Home for Everyone shelter.

"Portlanders don't believe in housing first, they believe in a model that addresses people and meets their needs where they are, instead of just one-size-fits-all type solutions," Sturgeon told Pamplin Media Group. "That's the direction we need to see the county moving — to align with where the constituents are, and what they want their tax dollars spent on."

Sturgeon said it has been interesting to watch the shift in voter engagement this year.

"People are really paying attention now to the way the government works, and they're hungry to learn and understand — and so there are a lot of opportunities out there to educate people about the homeless crisis and who's in charge of that," Sturgeon said. "Because there's so much confusion, people are quick to blame the city, but the reality is the county holds almost all of the budget and majority of the responsibility for behavioral health and homelessness.PMG PHOTO: JULES ROGERS - Among the speakers at the PBA leadership night was Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

"Watching people engage on that issue, and try to dig down and learn how they can be impactful has been the best thing about the year for me; it's what's bringing hope," Sturgeon said. "The business community was very supportive of this very large robust tax and now Multnomah County has the most dollars per capita per person to spend on the homeless population and solving the homeless crisis. Now is our opportunity to implement a plan that's going to make a real difference."

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