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Adams headed to new job with national environmental group

Photo Credit: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Former Mayor Sam Adams in leaving Portland for a job with a Washington, D.C., environmental organization.Former Portland Mayor Sam Adams is leaving the Rose City to become the new director of an environmental initiative in Washington, D.C.

Adams will lead the U.S. Climate Initiative, part of the World Resources Institute. In his new role, the former mayor will guide the group’s strategy to analyze and develop new policies, build political support and help coalitions that will encourage the country’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

The group announced Adams' hiring on Wednesday, Jan. 14.

“Sam is a dynamic and savvy leader, who will invigorate U.S. climate activities at a critical time for the nation and planet,” said Dr. Andrew Steer, the institute’s president and chief executive officer. “As mayor, a member of the City Council and chief of staff, Sam played a central role in making Portland one of the most livable and sustainable cities in the United States. We are excited to have his leadership to build support for national action that will address the climate challenge.”

Adams, 51, was mayor of Portland from 2009 to 2012. He was the first openly gay mayor of Top 30 U.S. city. Adams left office after one term and became the executive director of the City Club of Portland.

Even before he took office, Adams was dogged by a sex scandal involving an 18-year-old legislative intern. He decided against seeking a second term.

During and after his time in office, Adams had a recurring role on the IFC comedy "Portlandia," appearing as an aide to "mayor" Kyle MacLachlan. He also appeared as himself in a 2012 episode of NBC's "Grimm."

Environmental changes

As mayor, Adams promoted environmental issues, which included combining the sustainability office and city planning agency. He also led a coalition of government, business and labor leaders, along with neighborhood and environmental advocates, to create Portland’s Climate Action Plan and “We Build Green Cities” job creation and economic development strategy.

“The United States should be a leader in climate actions that will reduce emissions, improve people’s lives and open economic opportunities,” Adams said. “I am thrilled to join such a highly respected organization, which fits squarely into my life goals and vision. I know firsthand how a group of smart and dedicated people can deliver change in the world and I am eager to join WRI’s team to develop practical solutions for people and the planet.”

Adams joins Jennifer Morgan, who leads the institute’s global climate team, and Kevin Kennedy, who is currently the director of the U.S. Climate Initiative, but who will remain with as deputy director and research director.

Under Kennedy’s tenure, the U.S. Climate Initiative has released several publications, including “Can the U.S. Get There From Here?” an analysis of federal and state opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that helped influence the U.S. Climate Action Plan. The team also conducts analysis of climate impacts and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s power plant standards, as well as provides objective information for U.S. policy makers about China’s climate and energy activities.

The team has also recently begun analysis of options for pricing carbon, which will continue.