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Potter takes control of bureaus

New mayor will lead all city agencies for up to six months

Days into his post, Mayor Tom Potter is fulfilling one of his campaign projects: He has assumed control of all city agencies.

Potter will oversee the bureaus during the next three to six months while sharing his expectations with top managers.

This process, dubbed the Bureau Innovation Partnership, will involve the four other City Council members and numerous community leaders and organizations.

Potter said the project is designed to change how city bureaus operate. Goals include improving diversity in the workplace, bringing a citywide strategic vision to the bureaus, fostering cooperation and collaboration throughout all departments and improving customer service. Potter will retain leadership of some bureaus and assign the rest to the other commissioners when the process is complete.

The project will be directed by Austin Raglione, newly elected Commissioner Sam Adam's primary election campaign manager. Raglione previously worked for former Commissioner Margaret Strachan and Portland-area Rep. Earl Blumenauer. She will be assisted by Sanjeev Balajee, a researcher who has worked on children's and sustainability issues.

Potter also has announced the rest of his staff:

• Nancy Hamilton, chief of staff. Hamilton managed Potter's campaign for mayor. Before that, she worked on Portland school funding issues and managed the Children's Initiative Fund, the five-year, $10 million property tax levy for children's programs first advocated by Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

• Elizabeth Kennedy-Wong, policy manager, neighborhoods and education. Kennedy-Wong is the former executive director of Southeast Uplift, the city's oldest neighborhood coalition office.

• Rochelle Lessner, policy manager, economic development. Lessner, an attorney with the Portland firm Lane Powell Spears Lubersky LLP, is the former Portland General Electric director of public policy and government affairs. She is a volunteer teaching English as a second language and family immigration law for Lutheran Family Services of Oregon. Lessner also has served on the West Linn City Council and the board of directors of the Mount Tabor Neighborhood Association.

• John Doussard, director of communications. Doussard is a former newspaper reporter and editor who co-edited a series of stories that won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for the Orange County Register. He is a mentor with the ASPIRE program at Roosevelt High School, helping students pursue postgraduate opportunities.

• Jamaal Folsom, community outreach director. Folsom is a small-business owner who previously worked for Commissioner Erik Sten and helped the Black United Fund of Oregon launch the $3.2 million capital campaign for the Alberta Center for Community Development. He also has served on the board of Technical Assistance for Community Services and the Enterprise Community Commission.

• Amanda Lowthian, assistant to the mayor. Lowthian is a former television writer and producer who has worked for Oregon Public Broadcasting, A&E Television, the History Channel and the Learning Channel.

• Carmen Caballero Rubio, community and media liaison. Rubio served on Multnomah County Commissioner Serena Cruz's staff and has been involved in numerous community projects, such as the Oregon Council for Hispanic Advancement, SMG Foundation and the Portland Guadalajara Sister City Association.

• Sara Culp, policy development assistant. Before being hired by Potter, Culp was state director of the New Voters Project, a statewide grassroots campaign to involve 18- to 24-year-old voters.

• Rita Oviatt, part-time office assistant. Oviatt spent seven years with Portland Public Schools as a liaison among schools, families, businesses and social service providers.

Potter also kept four employees from former Mayor Vera Katz's staff:

• Charlie Makinney, policy manager, public safety and security. Makinney will continue working with Potter during his administration's transition as the liaison to the Police Bureau. He also serves on the board of the Forest Heights Homeowners Association, the Northwest Heights Neighborhood Association and the Neighbors West/Northwest coalition.

• Jessi Rhodes, staff assistant. Rhodes manages the front office. Before joining the mayor's office in 2003, she worked as an office assistant for a textbook company.

• Hanh Ta, operations manager. Ta will continue assisting the chief of staff, helping constituents, overseeing interns and providing support for a variety of projects. Before joining the mayor's office, Ta was the recruiting coordinator for the Office of Career Services at the University of Portland.

• Veronica Valenzuela, policy development assistant. In addition to briefing the mayor on council items and filing ordinances, resolutions and reports for the mayor's office, Valenzuela works as Makinney's assistant.

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