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Community Action names new director

Renée Bruce will succeed Jerralyn Ness, who's been at helm for decades


Community Action of Washington County has selected Renée Bruce as the organization’s next executive director.

Bruce, who currently serves as Community Action’s director of Family & Community Resources, will succeed Jerralynn Ness, who was Community Action’s executive director since 1984.

Community Action has served Washington County for 50 years, working to eliminate conditions of poverty and create opportunities for individuals, families and communities to thrive.

Bruce will assume the executive director position Nov. 1. Ness will officially retire from Community Action on Jan. 1, 2016, said Richard Odell, chairman of the nonprofit’s board of directors. “During the interim period, she will be available to the organization and the board to assist with special assignments.”

Odell said Bruce “has a track record of accomplishment and strong leadership. This, combined with her integrity, passion, deep organizational knowledge, strategic thinking, understanding of poverty and institutional tenure makes her uniquely qualified to lead Community Action successfully into the future.”Renee Bruce

Ann Barr-Gillespie, vice-chairwoman of the board, said Bruce was the “best choice from a pool of highly qualified candidates. She has been an accomplished advocate for the poor, with over 25 years of Community Action experience managing programs that address the causes and conditions of poverty in Washington County and create opportunities for people and communities to thrive.”

Bruce said she is “thrilled” to lead the organization and “honored to be following in the footsteps of Jerralynn Ness, a truly exceptional person who has helped guide Community Action with great skill and empathy for nearly 42 years.”

Bruce, who lives in Beaverton, holds a bachelor’s degree in child development and elementary education from Michigan State University. From 1972 to 1989, she held a variety of childhood care and education positions in Minnesota and Michigan. She joined Community Action in 1990.

For the past 15 years, as director of Family & Community Resources, Bruce has been responsible for the overall management of the majority of Community Action’s program areas, including Child Care Resource & Referral, Family Development, Housing and Homeless Services, Energy and Emergency Rent, Information and Referral and Energy Conservation.

Bruce has also served on Community Action’s Senior Management Team, participating in decision-making, strategic planning and establishing agency policy direction. She is on the board of directors of the Community Housing Fund, the Northwest Regional Education Service District and CASH Oregon.

She is also chairwoman of the Washington County Anti-Poverty Strategies Committee.

Community Action started serving Washington County in 1965. Its goal is to empower individuals and strengthen families by helping them find a path out of poverty.

Its local work supports and aligns with a national network of agencies dedicated to the same goal.