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  • Writer's pictureErin Foote Morgan

June’s UN/SUNG: Zavier Borja

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

We're happy to announce our June UN/SUNG award winner: Zavier Borja!

At FM Civic, we value the sometimes-under-celebrated contributions of Central Oregon community members who make an epic #communityimpact for all who live here.

This month, we’re highlighting Zavier (aka Zavi) because he truly embodies what it means to create a welcoming community.

Just recently, Zavi was named the new Central Regional Solutions Coordinator, serving Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson Counties for the Governor’s Regional Solutions Program: a role he’s been in for about a month. Regional Solutions works with all sorts of entities – state, local, public, private, and nonprofit – to identify and address community and economic development priorities, challenges, and opportunities on the regional level. The foundation of the program, which was established by Executive Order nearly 10 years ago, is an understanding that every region in Oregon is different and that the most effective way to do this work, and to actually get things done, is to work locally.

When we sat down with Zavi a few weeks back, we were impressed by his desire to focus on challenges facing rural Oregonians and we’re excited to see how his leadership shapes new opportunities and strategies in the region.

But, Zavi’s Central-Oregon-serving career stretches much further back. He served from 2021 – 2023 as the City of Bend’s Community Relations Manager, a role that positioned him as a liaison between the City and the community. While managing the City’s Community Relations Program, Zavi supported and grew community awareness and engagement with the City’s goals, activities, and projects through outreach and events.

Zavi was instrumental in creating the Bend Block Party! If you haven’t heard about it, the Bend Block Party is a new way for community members to engage with and learn about civic issues. It’s a tow-behind trailer stocked with a mobile block party, including games, tables, chairs, and all the supplies. The idea is to bridge the gap between members of communities who are, or have been, underrepresented in involvement with local government. The project’s first event was just a week or so ago—and we’re sending big props to Zavi for getting this party started.

As a first-generation Mexican American who grew up in Central Oregon, Zavi has been impactfully involved in our local Latinx community as well. Zavi founded Vámonos Outside, a nonprofit organization with a mission to “to connect, engage and inspire our Latinx families & community into the outdoors for all of Central Oregon.” Having grown up in Central Oregon but not having recreated in the outdoors as a young person, Zavi founded a local chapter of Latino Outdoors in 2019 with a goal of reducing barriers to outdoor recreation. In 2020, spurred by that work, collaboration with leaders from the Latinx community and outdoor organizations, and grant funding, Zavi founded the nonprofit Vámonos Outside to increase outdoor access for Latinx Central Oregonians. He currently sits on the nonprofit’s advisory group.

Since 2020, Zavi has also served on the Board of Directors of the Latino Community Association (LCA), a nonprofit that aims “to empower our Latino families to thrive, creating opportunities for advancement and building bridges that unite and strengthen us all,” Zavi was appointed the President of the Board this April. In that capacity, Zavi was awarded a $10,000 grant for LCA as a 2022 Coors Light’s Líderes of the Year. Each year, Coors chooses only five Latinx trailblazers from among those nominated from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico for their innovative leadership and transformational impact on their communities.

His service on Boards of Directors stretches way back and includes: Bend Parks and Recreation District (an elected position), Gray Family Foundation, Bend YP (Young Professionals) Advisory, Heart of Oregon Corps, City Club of Central Oregon, SCOPAC, Children’s Forest of Central Oregon, and Deschutes Trail Coalition Steering.

With all this great work under his belt—we debated whether Zavi is truly UN/SUNG, but we’re giving him our award anyway because leaders like this need to be seen for the incredible contributors they are, as often as we can shine that spotlight. Zavi – thank you for making a powerful #communityimpact in Central Oregon.

Get Involved

Want to learn more and support Zavi’s current work? Check out Vámonos Outside, Latino Community Association, and the Central Regional Solutions Center.

Want to organize a block party in your neighborhood? Visit Bend Block Party.

About the UN/SUNG Awards

Every month, FM Civic presents an UN/SUNG Award to a person or group of people that are making a #communityimpact in the Pacific Northwest. Want to nominate an organization or individual that’s making a difference? Drop their name or website in the comments below!

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