Victoria Cross moved to Oregon in 1998 with her husband, Richard, and her daughter, Olga. She quickly realized that reading American literature and watching American movies and television shows can only educate immigrants so much about what is in store for them in the American workforce. Refugees and other displaced people often experience hardships adjusting to their new culture, particularly at work. They face language gaps, along with different rules and customs. In this article, Victoria remembers when she first arrived in the United States and joined a carpool to Portland from her home in Scappoose, Oregon. Through listening, observing and trying to adapt to a new culture, she learned about herself and the culture of her new country.

Author Biography

Since she started working at the Multnomah County in 2000, Victoria Cross has worked to link immigrant and refugee employees, as well as immigrant and refugee communities, to Multnomah County programs that serve them.

Born in Russia, Victoria graduated from the Moscow State University of Culture with a B.A. in Library & Information Science, and a minor in Nursing. She was chief librarian for the central library in a large Russian city. She also worked in a joint training center involving the Former Soviet Union, the United States, and various countries of Europe, Asia and Africa. Victoria moved to Oregon in 1998 with her husband, Richard, and her daughter, Olga.

In 2011 Victoria founded, and remains the It’s a Long Drive and Learning Experience Chair of, the Multnomah County Employee Resource Group for Immigrants and Refugees. The group’s purpose is to identify challenges and opportunities faced by this diverse cohort; advance their knowledge about the American workforce and its culture; assist the group’s members in achieving their full potential through career development, celebrations, education, and mutual support; provide Multnomah County with a critical linkage to the diverse communities from which these employees come; and help prepare Multnomah County to meet future needs of this diverse workforce.

In June 2014, her Employee Resource Group won an Achievement Award from National Association of Counties for creating safe space for immigrants and refugees employed by Multnomah County, enabling them to share experiences, support and suggest opportunities to improve their experience in the workforce. The group is the first of its kind in the United States, and it serves as a teaching tool for other counties to increase awareness about immigrant and refugee experiences in a work environment, as well as out in the community.

Victoria Cross was honored with the Robert Phillips Regional Diversity Award at the Northwest Public Employees Regional Diversity Conference, where she was recognized for her pioneering efforts in promoting awareness about the needs of immigrants and refugees in the workplace and her success in founding Multnomah County Employee Resource Group for Immigrants and Refugees.

Copyright statement

© 2017 Victoria Cross



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