Q Center's "Volunteer of the Year" Dismissed after Failed Background Check

Evening News
program date: 
Thu, 04/18/2013

Portlander Natalie Marie, local LGBT advocacy and service non-profit Q Center's "Volunteer of the Year," has been dismissed after failing a state-mandated criminal background check. 

In her past, Natalie's struggle with addiction landed her in prison for seven years, and then in a halfway house, where she was targeted for her gender identity and denied medical care. 

She argues that her involvement with Q Center has been essential in facilitating her transition out of incarceration. 

But in recent months, she learned of a state statute, ORS 443.004, that says public funds cannot support the employment in any capacity of individuals in "certain positions" if they have "specific convictions." 

Because the Q Center receives state funding, and works with youth and elderly populations, they are effectively required to submit to background checks on all their employees and volunteers. 

In spite of ample documentation supporting Natalie's continued work, her background check was denied last month, leading to her dismissal. 

KBOO's Jenn Chavez spoke with Natalie for more details on her story and how she thinks the system needs to change.


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