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Sue Shaffer: A visionary leader for UCC, the community

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Former UCC Board of Trustees director Sue Shaffer passed away on April 12 at the age of 94. She was the first woman to chair the board and received a position on the Spirit of Umpqua “Hall of Fame” in Jacoby Auditorium in 1999. During UCC’s 53-year history, only 23 names have been listed in the Hall of Fame.

John McCafferty, the current business operations officer at The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, worked alongside Sue Shaffer on the governor’s Compact Negotiation Team.

“She was a very impressive lady,” McCafferty said. “It was obvious that she was a person of vision, that she was really focused, and that she is very determined. That is what stood out about Sue.”

Shaffer was well-known for her influence at Umpqua Community College as well as the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe of Indians.

Last year, the Board renamed the library in honor of Shaffer’s commitment to the community and education. The building now stands as the Sue Shaffer Learning Commons.

“I was raised in a household where honesty, moral integrity, education, work and helping others were high priority,” Sue Shaffer said in her personal philosophy as published on Portland State University’s Institute of Tribal Government website.

“My brother and I were taught that rewards in life came from work and reaching out to others. I have lived my life that way,” she said.

Shaffer’s unwavering dedication was a driving force behind getting Congress to formally recognize the Cow Creek Band in 1982. As a longtime champion of tribal rights, Shaffer served as the Cow Creek tribal chair for three decades from 1983 to 2010, a span of 27 years.

Her passion took the tribe to new heights. The tribe’s small bingo parlor later blossomed into the Seven Feather’s casino and resort in Canyonville, which now stands as the county’s third largest private employer.

Shaffer’s leadership led to new business ventures for the tribe that further contributed to the local economy. The Umpqua Indian Development Corporation now operates a multitude of businesses throughout Douglas County. These businesses provided jobs for 635 employees in 2016, according to a News-Review article.

In addition, the tribe has donated millions of dollars over the years to local charities, which is a representation of Shaffer’s vision, hard work and dedication.

Over the years, Shaffer served on numerous national committees, including being named a delegate to the National Congress of American Indians. She was a delegate to the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and the Indian Women’s Leadership White House Conference.

She is noteworthy for receiving a dozen other awards and serving on multiple boards during her lifetime. But, her ultimate legacy resembles a lifetime of achievements, driven by her determination to enrich community and preserve culture.

“Chairman Shaffer’s passing is a significant event for the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe.  Her leadership was remarkable to the Tribe’s success,” a condolence statement issued by the Cow Creek Tribe regarding Shaffer’s death said. “She was a beloved Cow Creek Tribal Member.  Her loss is deeply felt.”

“She touched a lot of people in a positive way and impacted everyone she met. To realize that person was no longer going to be in the community was a sad moment. Her hard work, perseverance, and success is her legacy. She will be missed.”

—John McCafferty, business operations manager of The Cow Creek Band of

Umpqua Tribe of Indians