Dear Friends and Neighbors,

This first month in office as your new Multnomah County Chair has been filled with many rich and varied chances to connect across our communities with people who sit in very different seats across the spectrum of Multnomah County’s work. I want to thank so many of you who’ve reached out to share your thoughts, participated in conversations, meetings and forums and begun this work with me and my team. I look forward to more as we begin our County budget process and continue connecting in the weeks and months to come.

At the same time, these are difficult times across this nation. Over the past several days we have woken to fresh news of violence impacting many communities, including in Tennessee, Georgia, Iowa and California, in a wave of incidents that all too often share a story of hate, trauma and injustice. I feel sadness and anger when I think of the lives lost, the impacts on the families and loved ones of the victims, and the communities that have so much to heal from in coming months and years.

At Multnomah County we take the job of preventing violence, providing community safety, and healing from trauma seriously, and work diligently to address the circumstances and factors that lead to harm. Making our communities safer means we see not only the causes at the root of community violence, but the action and collaboration it takes to work toward solutions.

To solve big problems, we have to continue – and to deepen – our commitments to speaking our truths and listening to each other. To set a big table that includes everyone, especially those most impacted by our work. To continue building the relationships that will support a deeper understanding of our communities and their most pressing needs.



My team

I’ve been thrilled to welcome new staff and new energy to my team over the last two months. Staff new to my office include executive assistant Lyne Martin-Modica, policy advisors Stacy Borke, Leah Drebin, and Lakeitha Elliott, Office of Community Involvement director JR Lilly and communications advisor Sara Guest. These individuals join longtime Multnomah County team-members chief of staff Chris Fick, Office of Sustainability director John Wasiutynski, director of communications Julie Sullivan-Springhetti, director of government relations Jeston Black, policy advisors Raffaele Timarchi and Hayden Miller and constituent relations and policy liaison Olivia Cleaveland.

To learn more about their work or to connect with them directly, visit my website here.

All are welcome here

I am honored to share my experience as a Latina, Oregonian, and American, and stand up against racism and bigotry.

If you were the target of bias because of your race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or religion call the Bias Response Hotline: 1-844-924-BIAS (1-844-924-2427)

Point in Time Count

The Point in Time count is a national program mandated by the Office of Housing and Urban Development that provides a snapshot of homelessness in our region. This year marks our first-ever tri-county Count, being conducted collaboratively across Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties in a demonstration of our region’s commitment to refine how homelessness data is collected and analyzed, and how it can be harnessed to better inform our budget and priorities.

While no count limited in scope and duration will give us the complete picture of people experiencing homelessness, we need the most accurate survey possible. Changes in this year’s methodology will help us get a more accurate picture of who’s living unhoused and trace where they were most recently housed to provide a window onto this crisis and our best ways forward. We value the partnership of Dr. Marisa Zapata from Portland State University’s Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative and look forward to sharing a snapshot report this spring and a longer report later this year.

Joint Office of Homeless Services Recruitment

In late 2022, Multnomah County launched the recruitment for a permanent director for the Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS). The recruitment occurred after significant stakeholder engagement, including focus groups, interviews, and more than 50 survey responses, to help shape the qualities and experiences communities across the county value.

Interviews are underway with the first round of applicants. Because homelessness is a long-term problem across Multnomah County, made enormously worse by the pandemic, it requires immediate action to address the humanitarian crisis happening all around us. Having a talented, unifying leader directing the vital work of the JOHS, and working in collaboration with me, the JOHS team, our jurisdictional and service partners, and our community is an absolute necessity. I am focused on finding a housing-focused, dynamic leader who brings innovative ideas and the skills to translate big picture vision and goals into realistic, effective, coordinated plans to bring best practice solutions to our homelessness services system.

Multnomah County Animal Services

On the day I was sworn in as Multnomah County Chair, I was informed that Multnomah County Animal Services was experiencing severe overcrowding. I authorized Animal Services to take the rare but necessary step of pausing the intake of non-dangerous stray dogs to mitigate overcrowding and prepare to reopen the shelter for in-person adoptions for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. I also deployed emergency management staff to assist, authorized the suspension of adoption fees through February 10th to reduce barriers to adoption and visited the shelter to review the situation firsthand. And we put out a call for community support to fill volunteer shifts and foster animals. We’ve seen a tremendous response from our community, with more than 100 people applying to be new volunteers and 75 new applications to foster pets, helping reduce the number of animals in our care and successfully reopen the shelter for in-person adoptions. I am proud of the commitment our staff, volunteers and community partners have shown to the animals in our care and my office will be directing a review of Animal Services’ practices as our commitment to moving forward purposefully to improve conditions for the pets at the shelter and the people working hard to care for them. You can read more about this work here, and learn more about volunteering here.

East County Partnerships

Last week, I hosted a small gathering for elected officials representing our east county cities of Gresham, Fairview, Troutdale, and Wood Village to reconnect, meet newly elected council members, and discuss ways to bring investments to the hardworking and vibrant communities in east Multnomah County. In addition, this was an opportunity for me, Commissioner Lori Stegmann, Sheriff Nicole Morrisey-O'Donnell, and District Attorney Mike Schmidt to deepen relationships with east county leaders and establish open lines of communication. It takes all hands on deck and all levels of government to address homelessness, public safety, climate resilience, economic prosperity, and more. I am grateful for the county's partnership with east county cities and look forward to the work we have ahead of us.