Multnomah County’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution naming Jamie Waltz as the permanent director of the county’s Department of Community Services (DCS) at their September 24th meeting.
Jamie has served as the interim department director since the spring of 2019 and as the DCS deputy director since February 2018. DCS includes the county divisions responsible for animal services, elections, land use planning and transportation.
Jamie attended the virtual meeting from home, where she appeared onscreen with her husband Justin and children Siri and Simon.
A career public servant, Jamie stepped in to lead DCS after working closely with former DCS Director Kim Peoples for over a year. Jamie led the department during Kim People’s leave of absence for health reasons and continued to lead the department after his death from cancer this spring. She has worked to build on the vision that Kim created through the DCS strategic plan.
Prior to joining the county, Waltz served as the strategic planning and development manager for the Strategic Projects and Policy Team in the City of Portland's Office of the Chief Administrative Officer. In that role, she managed the reconstruction of the Portland Building and several other strategic citywide projects. She also spent eight years working for the Portland Bureau of Transportation. She was the bureau’s resource development manager, managing the Portland Street Fund, and before that, the transportation asset manager, overseeing $10 billion in capital transportation assets.
In 2005-2006 Waltz and her husband Justin travelled the globe and volunteered as public health workers in India and Ghana. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution from the University of California San Diego and a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of California Los Angeles.
Introducing the resolution at the board meeting, County Chief Operating Officer Peggy Brey noted Jamie’s work to carry on Kim People’s legacy of integrating equity throughout the department’s work and leading transformational change in the animal services and transportation divisions.
Chair Kafoury noted that Jamie not only had to step in and lead a diverse department while facing the personal loss of her director, but also had to rise to the challenge of adapting the department during a health pandemic and conducting three elections in one year.
Several commissioners noted that Jamie’s leadership style and talents are a good match for current challenges the county faces. “Your integrity, thoughtfulness, preparedness and kindness are exactly what we need in our leaders today,” said Commissioner Susheela Jayapal. “Wherever Kim Peoples is today, he is smiling.”
“I appreciate your calm, steady demeanor,” Commissioner Lori Stegmann said. “You lead with such grace and compassion.”
Speaking to Jamie’s children who were listening to the meeting at home with their mother, Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson said, “You should be very proud of your mom today.”
“I cannot imagine coming into this role through such a confluence of crises, plus the impact of Kim Peoples’ illness and death,” said Commissioner Sharon Meieran. “You channel his leadership, but you are your own person with your own vision.”
“I’m honored to be appointed today,” Jamie told the commissioners. “I would not be here today if it weren’t for Kim Peoples. I’m grateful for being able to have served as his deputy and learn about the county and DCS through Kim’s eyes. He set the mission for this department. I look forward to doing the work necessary to enact Kim’s vision.”