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Virtual Event | September 22nd | 5:30 – 7pm
Follow-Up Workshop | Sat. Oct 2

Visiting SAGE Dr. Donna Beegle, with Dr. Shariff Abdullah

Nationally renowned expert on the causes and experiences of poverty, Dr. Donna M. Beegle breaks down barriers that prevent people from coming up with real and lasting solutions. As the 2021 Visiting SAGE, she shared her powerful story around experiences of poverty and the journey that led her to obtain her GED at age 26 and, 10 years later her doctorate.

Donna offers both an insider perspective and 30 years of research that provides opportunities to bridge gaps in our understanding, to unite our communities and make lasting impacts that assist our neighbors in moving out and staying out of the crisis of poverty.

After her talk, Dr. Beegle was joined in an open dialogue with author and advocate, Dr. Shariff Abdullah, around poverty and race in the pandemic.

The resources and conversations that emerged from Dr. Beegle and Dr. Shariff’s conversation – and subsequent workshop which took place on October 2nd – are invaluable.

Scroll down for resources and ways you can get involved in breaking the cycle of poverty for so many in our communities.

Dr. Donna Beegle

Donna Beegle

2021 Visiting SAGE

At age 26, Donna Beegle, a single mom from generations of migrant labor poverty, with two children and six months of the 9th grade, became homeless again. She had grown up in a migrant labor family, had multiple evictions, cars being towed, and she is the only member of her family who has not been incarcerated. Donna’s utilities were shut off and she needed help. Fortunately for her, she stumbled upon a pilot program and received services that not only helped her to get utilities turned on, but also connected her to opportunities to move out – and stay out – of poverty. With the help of services and mentors, she gained hope and was able to shed the poverty shame that made her feel stupid and paralyzed her from taking opportunities. With budding confidence, housing assistance, and mentors, she was able to achieve her GED. Ten years later, she walked across the stage to receive her doctorate in educational leadership.

Dr. Beegle focused 30 years of research and work on developing evidence-based best practices for ending poverty. She has traveled to all 50 states and eight countries including France, Canada, Ireland, England, and presented to rural Chinese leaders on what works to assist children and families to move out and to stay out of the war zone of poverty. She has won numerous awards for her work including, Speaker of the Year for the New Mexico Bar Foundation and Oregon’s Women of Influence award. Her work has been featured on CNN, PBS, and numerous media outlets around the country. Dr. Beegle is a Woodrow Wilson Princeton Fellow and she has shared her poverty-informed practices with colleges around the country. Portland State University’s new school of Social Work dedicated the Donna M. Beegle Community Classrooms in her honor. She is the author of five books, including “See Poverty…Be The Difference,” and “If Not Me, Then Who? Empowering Our Neighbors.” She tells people, “She knows too much to be quiet.”

You can learn more about Dr. Beegle and her work at:

Dr. Shariff Abdullah

Dr. Shariff Abdullah

Speaker and Co-Leader of October 2nd Workshop

Shariff Abdullah, J.D., is a consultant, speaker, author and advocate for societal transformation. His mission is to bring currently dysfunctional systems and structures into alignment with our common human and spiritual values, to create a world that works for all living things. Shariff consults with people and organizations on the leading edge of change, including government agencies, businesses, and social service organizations.

As Director of Commonway Institute, he has visited over 43 countries and over 100 distinct cultures, giving him a unique perspective on our global human and spiritual issues, and a vision which spans culture and class. He has proven experience in working with all peoples and in many different situations, bringing harmony in conditions of actual or potential conflict and discord. His books on leadership and societal change include the award-winning Creating a World That Works for All, and Seven Seeds for a New Society

October 2nd Workshop with Dr. Beegle & Dr. Abdullah:

“Poverty, Race, and Consciousness”

Join us for a deeper dive into issues of poverty and its intersections with race with Dr. Shariff Abdullah and Dr. Donna Beegle.

POVERTY: In the 1700s, poverty was made illegal and/or thought to be a character flaw. Today, many people living in the crisis of poverty continue to be punished for poverty conditions. Many efforts to eradicate poverty fail or—at best—assist people to “cope” with current poverty conditions. What can we do to ensure our neighbors are moving out and staying out of the war zone of poverty?

RACE: In the 40+ years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, we continue to see our neighbors struggle for equal rights, access, and opportunities. What will it take for us to live in a society free from discrimination?

CONSCIOUSNESS: Our society reflects the state of our consciousness. What do you know and believe about race and/or poverty issues? Can we transform our collective consciousness and create communities that work for all?

This session brings us together to create the kinds of communities where everyone reaches their fullest potential.

In this session, participants will:

• Explore the intersection of race and class

• Examine how subconscious bias gets in the way of breaking barriers

• Learn practical, doable strategies to eliminate racism and poverty

Timing: This is a 5-hour training, including an ending Q & A with Dr. Beegle and Dr. Abdullah 

Questions? Email hello (at) or call (971) 717-6570.

Resources: Learn More & Give Forward

More About Dr. Donna Beegle

Communication Across Barriers website
Dr. Beegle’s Facebook Page
Donna’s Twitter:

More About Dr. Shariff Abdullah




Donna Beegle

Breaking Poverty Barriers to Equal Justice

See Poverty…Be the Difference

If Not Me, Then Who?

Shariff Abdullah

Books By Dr. Abdullah – Commonway

Other Books & Resources

Netflix Documentary – Sentenced

Utah and Housing First – Washington Post article about Utah’s solution to homelessness; Housing First Utah article

Herbert Gans (Book): The War Against the Poor: The Underclass and Antipoverty Policy

Nickle and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

Paulo Freire – Freire Institute 
Pedagogy of the Oppressed 

Documentary: Babies & Article about the babies 10 years later
Eyes on the Prize:

The Opportunity Community Model
Introductory Video to the Opportunity Community Model

Please visit the links below to explore the critical work of our  promotional sponsors!

Neighborhood House logo
Vision Action Network
Bridge Meadows
EAN logo
Our Children Oregon

About the Visiting SAGE Series

SAGE is a Portland-based nonprofit organization working to advance generational equity – the principle that each generation should improve the quality of life for the next. SAGE inspires older adults to engage in causes that benefit younger and future generations. 

Each year, SAGE hosts renowned authors and leaders as part of its Visiting SAGE speaker series, including Marc Freedman, Nicholas Kristof, Robert Putnam, Paul Hawken, Van Jones, and Sylvia Earle. SAGE has partnered with businesses and nonprofit organizations throughout our region to put on these events and magnify the messages of important visionaries and changemakers. 

As the host of the 2021 Visiting SAGE event, SAGE will highlight the importance of working across generations to eliminate poverty in our country. Learn more at