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Incoming county chair proposes merger of 2 departments

Ted Wheeler also names new Multnomah County department heads, staffers

Multnomah County Chairman-elect Ted Wheeler today proposed to consolidate the county's Department of School and Community Partnerships with the Department of Human Services to streamline the programs and save on administrative costs.

The consolidation - which the full board will take up in January for approval - has the support of Lolenzo Poe, who is the current director of DCFS, Wheeler said.

Wheeler said Poe has agreed to serve as his senior policy advisor, helping to shape the policies around the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods program, youth initiatives and alcohol, drug and education issues.

Joanne Fuller, who has spent the past five years leading the Department of Community Justice, will lead the new consolidated Department of Human Services. She has worked for the county for 18 years, becoming a national leader in juvenile reform. She will now oversee the county's social services and treatment systems for the elderly, mentally ill and people struggling with addiction.

The board must vote on her appointment in January.

Steve Liday, Fuller's assistant director for the past three years, will take Fuller's place leading the Department of Community Justice on an interim basis; the county will soon begin a national search to find a permanent replacement.

Liday has 25 years of experience working in corrections, including working as a parole and probation officer, branch supervisor and substance abuse program manager.

Carol Ford, who led the Department of Administrative Services on an interim basis, will now be its permanent director. Cecilia Johnson will continue leading the Department of Community Services, Molly Raphael will continue leading the Department of Library Services, and Lillian Shirley will continue leading the Department of Health Services.

All appointments are effective Jan. 1.

Wheeler also announced his staff appointments on Thursday, noting that he had more than 400 people who applied to work in his office.

The new hires include Hector Roche and Johnell Bell as community liaisons. Roche is a Concordia neighborhood activist and manager in the county health department. Bell is graduating from Portland State University this spring and was a former student representative on the Portland School Board as well as several youth engagement groups.

Tara Bowen Biggs, who was the scheduler for Commissioner Serena Cruz Walsh, will serve as Wheeler's scheduler.  

Wheeler's new communications director is Rhys Scholes, who managed the successful campaign for the Portland Public Schools levy and was previously the director of a group called Citizens for Oregon's Future, an initiative to educate the public about the state's tax system and options for change.

Scholes has also served as former County Chairwoman Beverly Stein's communications director and senior policy advisor.  

Wheeler will retain two members of his transition staff: deputy chief operating officer Barbara Willer and chief operating officer Bill Farver.

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