Retired senator, volunteers among Salem award recipients

Chane Griggs, a longtime community leader and president of the Salem Planning Commission, is slated to receive the top honor at Saturday’s First Citizen Banquet.

The annual dinner, put on by the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, recognizes philanthropists, community leaders and volunteers “who give their time, treasure and talent every day to make Salem a better place to live and work,” according to an event description. 

The sold-out event will be held Saturday, April 8, at the Salem Convention Center. 

Griggs, who has lived in the Salem area since 1977, will be honored as Salem’s First Citizen at the 72nd annual ceremony.

She previously served as president of the Rotary Club of Salem, a volunteer position, and as a regional director and philanthropic adviser for the Oregon Community Foundation.

Griggs retired from the Oregon Department of Corrections as an assistant director after holding earlier jobs at the Oregon Legislature and state Department of Administrative Services. She has also served as a volunteer on the city’s Climate Action Task Force, the Oregon State Capitol Foundation Board and the Salem Public Arts Commission, according to the Chamber’s website

Griggs ran against Mayor Chris Hoy in Salem’s May 2022 mayoral election.

This weekend, she will join previous Salem fixtures who have taken the award in recent years. They include former state Sen. Jackie Winters, historic preservationist Hazel Patton, former Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul De Muniz and most recently two local philanthropists, Gary Epping and Shawn Epping Engelberg.

The annual banquet recognizes four categories: First Citizen, Legacy of Leadership Award, Outstanding Young Professional and the Distinguished Service Award.


Former state Sen. Peter Courtney, who retired at the end of 2022, will receive the Legacy of Leadership Award.

Courtney served 20 years as Senate president, the longest stretch for a legislator in the state’s history. 

He entered politics as a Salem city councilor in 1974 before serving on boards of the Salem Area Mass Transit District, the YMCA of Marion and Polk Counties and the United Way, as well as 38 years in the Legislature.

As a senator, he helped direct hundreds of millions of dollars to projects in the Salem area including the Withnell Family YMCA, Oregon State Hospital and a new 34-unit veteran housing complex named Courtney Place, according to the Chamber’s website.


The two Salemites who will receive the award for Outstanding Young Professional are Collin Box and Josh Kay.

Box has been executive director of Capital Fútbol Club, a local soccer club that’s home to 2,500 members, since 2011.

“A lifelong Salemite, former soccer player, coach, and mentor, Collin Box has always firmly believed in the power of sports and its ability to bring people and communities together while teaching our young people valuable life skills,” the Chamber wrote. “Collin leads a team that not only teaches kids about the game of soccer, but helps them grow and develop into productive community members, supporters and leaders.”

Kay is the president of the Salem Leadership Foundation and a board member for the YMCA of Marion & Polk Counties.

“A fifth-generation Salemite with a deep love for his home and Salem’s business community, Josh is an active, influential, and inspirational leader,” according to the Chamber. “Josh continues to make a profound impact in providing hope, guidance, mentorship, and opportunities to our young people, neighbors, and community members. Widely respected by his peers, colleagues, and community partners of all ages, his steady leadership and passion for community-building set a shining example for other young professionals and youth in Salem.”


Oni Marchbanks, an activist and educator focused on equity and diversity, and Jim Vu, a local volunteer and promoter of local businesses, will be recognized with the Distinguished Service Award.

Marchbanks founded the Equity Splash/Zenzele Learning Center, an education program where Black students can learn from people of color working in STEM fields. The program started in July.

“A lifelong learner and visionary leader with a passion for understanding the human experience, Oni’s transformational work impacts many in the Salem-Keizer area,” the Chamber wrote.

Vu is the president of the Salem Main Street Association. The all-volunteer organization was founded three years ago with the goal of making downtown an interesting, “vibrant” place to be, he told Salem Reporter in 2020.

He is also the director of the Salem Chamber board.

“Jim spends much of his personal and professional energy lifting fellow business owners up and helping them succeed,” according to the Chamber. “He and his Main Street peers have devoted countless hours and an immeasurable amount of effort to the continued revitalization of Salem’s downtown area. Last winter, the group also hosted the return of Salem’s Downtown Holiday Parade, which was a massive hit with the hundreds of locals and visitors who crowded our downtown streets and businesses to celebrate the season.”

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

SUBSCRIBE TO GET SALEM NEWS  We report on your community with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Get local news that matters to you. Subscribe today to get our daily newsletters and more. Click I want to subscribe!

Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.