With a vow to collaborate and keep her door open to people and ideas, Jessica Vega Pederson was sworn in Tuesday evening as the Multnomah County Chair. She is the 13th Chair to serve since the current form of home rule government was established in 1966.
Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne Nelson administered the oath before an exuberant, standing-room-only crowd in the historic Collins Gallery at the Central Library.
“I am not emotional, but I look around this room and am so overwhelmed,” Chair Vega Pederson said. “There’s not a person here who hasn’t been involved in this work to lift up our communities. I look forward to the coming years as each day provides us with new chances to make a bigger difference — and to do it together.”
The ceremony kicked off three days of inaugurations for Multnomah County officials. Today, Jan. 4, Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell was sworn in as the 41st Multnomah County Sheriff and former state legislator Diane Rosenbaum was sworn in as Commissioner for District 3, replacing Vega Pederson on the Board until voters can select a permanent replacement in May. Commissioner Susheela Jayapal and Auditor Jennifer McGuirk will be sworn in for their second four-year terms during the Thursday, Jan. 5, regular board meeting.
Chair Vega Pederson pledges to govern “at the human and heart level”
As Chair, Vega Pederson serves as the County’s chief executive, overseeing a $3.3 billion budget and more than 6,000 employees. She also chairs the Multnomah County Board of Health and the Multnomah County Library District Board. Chair Vega Pederson was elected in November 2022 after six years as the District 3 Commissioner serving east Portland.
At the swearing in, speakers, including the Chair, acknowledged the challenges the County faces as residents emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic into a city remade by protest, homelessness, economic disparity and the increasing need for a social fabric that cares for the most vulnerable.
“With so many issues to prioritize right now, our biggest leadership opportunities may be in how we work together,” Chair Vega Pederson said. “We have a chance to reset relationships between cities and the County, and between the state and the County — and I intend to do just that.”
Speakers at the swearing in cited the Chair’s history of collaboration.
“It takes leaders like JVP to change the tide for our community,” said Kali Thorne Ladd, chief executive of Children’s Institute. “Leadership of systems like the SUN (Schools Uniting Neighborhoods) system, Preschool for All and Public Health. It is critical that they succeed right now. They are essential, and they are among the many County services that are the glue that holds this community together.”
Lisha Shrestha, executive director of Division Midway Alliance, described the Chair’s long-standing mentorship both as a woman and community member.
“She takes immense pride in seeing our community succeed and has been very attentive on when and how her community needs her support.”
The ceremony drew County, City of Portland and Gresham employees and officials, including Commissioners Lori Stegmann, Susheela Jayapal and Diane Rosenbaum. Filling the front row were the Chair’s extended family, including her parents, Laura Vega and Robert O’Neil, her aunt, two sisters and their families, and her husband Aaron Pederson and their two children.
Chair Vega Pederson’s remarks offered a glimpse of how she will govern. She recalled that a few weeks ago, as the Board took community input on how to use unexpected funds to target housing and houselessness, one homeless neighbor testified, “I’m not camping when I’m out there. Camping, you leave on Friday and come back on Sunday. I’m out there surviving. That’s not camping — that’s living. I think people need to be dealt with on the human level, on the heart level.”
“That’s what I believe, too. People should be seen on the human level. On the heart level,” Chair Vega Pederson said. “As we go forward into this work together, I will continue to prioritize ways of working together that bring us closer to that opportunity and that reality.”
Sheriff Morrisey O’Donnell, Commissioners Jayapal and Rosenbaum, and Auditor McGuirk all to be sworn in this week
Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell is 41st Multnomah County Sheriff
Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell, the 41st Multnomah County Sheriff, as well as the first woman elected to the position ever, was sworn in today, Jan. 4, in the Boardroom. Morrisey O’Donnell took the oath of office after more than 25 years in public safety at the agency. She is one of only two Multnomah County sheriffs to hold dual certifications in both police and corrections.
Morrisey O’Donnell earned her degree at the University of Portland and received subsequent training at the Oregon Executive Development Institute and Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association Command College. She holds executive-level certification from the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.
Community engagement is a cornerstone of her approach to public safety. Throughout her career, Morrisey O’Donnell has helped the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office develop strategies to understand and address the unique needs of our community. She is deeply dedicated to building trust through open, honest community partnership and service.
As Sheriff, Morrisey O’Donnell oversees a $184 million budget and more than 750 employees, while also managing the County’s more-than-1,100 jail beds. A lifelong Oregonian, she lives in Portland with her husband, a retired sheriff’s deputy.
Diane Rosenbaum to serve until permanent District 3 replacement elected
Rosenbaum joins the Board after nearly 18 years in the Oregon Legislature, including 10 years in the House and eight years in the Senate. During that time she served as Senate Majority Leader, House Speaker Pro Tempore, Democratic Whip and the chair of multiple committees. In the Senate, she served as Chair of the Rules and Executive Appointments Committee for six years, presiding over hundreds of confirmation hearings for the Governor’s appointments of agency heads, boards and commissions.
Rosenbaum’s priorities included work to alleviate poverty and hunger, address women’s healthcare and equal rights, and provide revenue reform. She lives in the Richmond neighborhood of Southeast Portland with her husband Jas Adams, their cairn terrier Seabiscuit, and rescue cat Tosca.
Susheela Jayapal to be sworn in for second term representing District 2
Commissioner Susheela Jayapal was reelected to the Board of County Commissioners in May 2022 after serving North and Northeast Portland since January 2019.
Born in India, she came to the United States at 16 to attend Swarthmore College, graduating with a degree in economics. After two years as a financial analyst at an investment bank, Commissioner Jayapal earned a law degree at the University of Chicago Law School. She was a litigator in San Francisco and Portland before becoming General Counsel at adidas America.
Commissioner Jayapal left law to spend nearly two decades working in nonprofit leadership positions with community organizations before running for County office. She represents the Board on numerous committees, including the Supportive Housing Services Tri-County Planning Body and Oversight Committee, and the Metro Policy Advisory Committee. She is also co-chair of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Systems Accountability Workgroup and is a liaison to the Regional Arts & Culture Council.
Commissioner Jayapal was an early advocate for the Supportive Housing Services Measure, approved by voters in May 2020, and has championed programs for youth, survivors of violence, and clean air and environmental sustainability.
The mother of two now-grown Grant High School graduates, she lives in the Sabin neighborhood of Northeast Portland.
Auditor Jennifer McGuirk to begin second term
Jennifer McGuirk was reelected as Multnomah County Auditor in May 2022. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and wrote and managed grants at institutions including Lewis & Clark College and Portland State University.
She earned a master's degree in public administration from PSU and became a certified internal auditor and a senior performance auditor in the Multnomah County Auditor’s Office.
During her first term, McGuirk oversaw the County Auditor’s Office’s first-ever audit of County jail conditions, audited the County’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, increased follow-ups on audit recommendations, and guided investigations of reports to the County’s Good Government Hotline. She established the office’s first community advisory committee.
McGuirk has integrated an equity lens, primarily focused on racial equity, into the office’s work and has developed community engagement processes — also used across every project the office takes on. McGuirk secured funding to increase the size of the office by four auditors, bringing it into better alignment with the County Charter’s mandates to the Auditor. She oversees a staff of 12, including 10 staff auditors.
McGuirk also advocated for amendments to the County Charter to support government accountability. The Multnomah County Charter Review Committee brought amendments McGuirk supported before voters in November 2022: one to establish an ombudsperson in the Auditor’s Office and another to ensure the Auditor’s access to information. Both measures passed overwhelmingly.
McGuirk lives in the Roseway neighborhood in Portland with her husband and two children.
The swearing in ceremony for Both Commissioner Jayapal and Auditor McGuirk will take place during the regular board meeting on Thursday, Jan. 5, which will be livestreamed on the MultCoBoard YouTube channel.
Find photos, news videos and remarks from the week’s events on multco.us and the County’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.
How to watch
View the swearing in of Chair Jessica Vega Pederson on Tuesday, Jan.3
View the swearing in of Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell on Wednesday, Jan. 4
View the swearing in of District 3 Commissioner Diane Rosenbaum on Wednesday, Jan. 4
District 2 Commissioner Susheela Jayapal and Auditor Jennifer McGuirk will be sworn in Thursday, Jan. 5, during the regular board meeting. You can watch the ceremony on the MultCoBoard YouTube channel starting at 9:30 a.m.