Lasting results: Tass Morrison receives Distinguished Service award

February, 2018 Posted in Community

Tass MorrisonBy Mary Owen

Nine were nominated for their service to the community, but one rose to the top: Tass Morrison.

“To know Tass is to love her commitment, education and service,” nominators said of the winner of the 2017 Stayton Sublimity Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service award. Other comments included, “Tass is a role model in diplomacy, willingness to listen and not sit idle on the sidelines, but jump in and get things done!” and “Tass Morrison is a class act, giving her time and energy to improving our local school, businesses and community.”

Morrison is a retired educator who currently serves on the North Santiam School District and Oregon State School District Association boards, roles for which she has been nationally recognized. She completed her extended tenure as an SSCOC board member in January. She also served on the Stayton Library Foundation Board and is a sustaining supporter of Family Building Blocks. She is a huge local business advocate who is first to visit and encourage new businesses, nominators said of Morrison who received multiple nominations.

“Some people have that very special quality of being genuine in their caring and concern for others,” said Dave Valencia, one of the nominators. “She has that easy friendly manner that makes people automatically listen to her.”

Valencia said Morrison has naturally slipped into leadership roles in the community.Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 2.34.19 PM

“She asks great questions that cause people to stop and listen and helps them to make better decisions,” he said. “Her involvement in any volunteer committee has helped that organization grow and thrive. She is truly a natural born leader!”

Morrison is a native Oregonian who grew up on a wheat ranch near Ione. After earning a master’s degree from Western Oregon University, she worked in the U.S. Department of Defense schools in Germany, traveling throughout Europe. She has since traveled and studied in Slovenia, Peru and at McGill University in Montreal.

Morrison’s education career spanned three decades. After retiring in 2000 from the Corvallis School District, she and her husband, Tom Anderson, moved to their newly built home in Sublimity.

“He was a principal in the North Santiam School District at Sublimity at the time,” she said. “I continued to work part-time at the Oregon Department of Education for a few years and did some private consulting for schools.”

The couple has two adult daughters and sons-in-law and six grandchildren.

“My husband and I have traveled to Ireland, China, and Cuba in recent years,” Morrison said. “We enjoy basketball and have season tickets to the men’s and women’s games at Oregon State. And we go to the Stayton High School Eagles home games. Tom keeps the clock at the varsity games.”

In 2001, Morrison joined the Stayton Public Library Foundation’s board of directors and was eventually hired as director of the Capital Campaign. By 2007, the campaign had raised $2.9 million from local contributors and grants, used to add 7,500 square feet
to the library.

“This gave me a wonderful way to meet people here and learn more about our communities from their stories,” Morrison said. “It gave me a deep and lasting appreciation for our community and those who live here.”

That same year, Morrison was elected to the NSSD board and has been re-elected twice, serving as chair, vice chair and currently the chair of the board’s Community Engagement Committee.

“In 2011, we passed a $22 million bond and made significant capital improvements in all five of our schools in Lyons, Stayton and Sublimity,” she said.

Morrison just complete six years on the chamber board, and is strongly committed to supporting local businesses, “the backbone of any small community’s economy and quality of life.”

“When city government, school, and business and industry leaders are congruent in their beliefs about the livability of where we live and work, good things can happen,” she said. “Showing up to participate in the process is 90 percent of getting it done.”

Morrison admitted she was surprised to learn she was named this year’s distinguished service winner.

“I had nominated a community leader who I thought was a shoo-in for the Distinguished Service Award, and I thought that I was being informed that my nominee had been selected,” she said. “So, it was quite an adjustment when I realized I had been selected. I had no idea that I had been nominated!

“It’s very humbling to be recognized like this because so many people here care deeply about our communities and do so much, and I am honored to be associated with them,” she added. “Reflecting on past recipients and their accomplishments reminds me of our local extraordinary volunteers and their contributions.”

As president-elect of the Oregon School Boards Association board or directors, Morrison will be in Washington, D.C., the first week of February to meet with its congressional delegation and advocate for education legislation that results in doing what’s best for K-12
school children.

“Also, the NSSD school board’s Community Engagement Committee is working on a survey project that will address customer satisfaction,” she said. “Getting feedback from our staff, parents, and constituents is critical to the goal-setting process we use to improve the school experience and communication.”

Morrison is a member of the North Santiam Services Integration Team, a group of social service providers helps local families solve problems. She is also on the Rural Tourism Marketing Team that promotes the area’s assets to increase tourism.

“Many thanks to the Stayton Sublimity Chamber of Commerce and their continued commitment to celebrating our communities’ leaders by planning and organizing the Community Awards event,” Morrison said.

“The SSCOC staff, volunteers and board exemplify leadership and action that helps keep our communities’ engine humming through advocacy and networking opportunities.” Morrison said when volunteering, timing is everything.

“Not everyone has time to focus on things external to their family or work,” she said. “Our lives change though, and when we do have time the important first step is to ask people to help or participate in a project or process that will have a positive, lasting result for all of us.

“And it’s really important to have fun and be the kind of person others want to serve with and spend time with,” she added. “You can’t antagonize and influence at the same time. Having a positive attitude is infectious and compelling: all good things happen through positive relationships!”

Morrison encourages people to look around and step up and get involved in improving “something here in the North Santiam area.”

“There are many on-going initiatives and projects that need your help, input, and talent,” she said.

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