Meet our office

Meet the Team

The team that works with Commissioner Rene Gonzalez comes from many places, but we all share a goal: to help restore Portland's safety & livability. 

Shah Smith
Chief of Staff

Shahriyar (Shah) Smith is our Chief of Staff. Prior to joining the office, he ran Commissioner Gonzalez’s successful 2022 campaign for City Council. In that capacity, he worked closely with neighborhoods, activists, business leaders, and concerned citizens in every neighborhood of our city. He brings 20 years of public affairs and strategic consulting experience with him to the team.

Shah was born and raised in Oregon. The son of Iranian immigrants, he also spent significant time in Iran during his youth. He speaks fluent Farsi and works with others in the Iranian American community to raise awareness for the ongoing struggle for the rights of women in Iran. Zan, Zendegi, Azadi.

Shah earned bachelor’s degrees in philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology from Portland State University; as well as a Master’s of Science in Sociology, focusing on Islamic Immigration and the structure and pattern of transnational migration more broadly. His ongoing academic interests include how research informs public policy, and the ethics of state power in service of social justice and equity goals.

Tom Miller
Senior Advisor

Tom is Commissioner Rene Gonzalez’s Senior Advisor. Previously he served as Mayor Ted Wheeler’s Director of Livability & Sustainability. Tom is an attorney licensed to practice in Oregon and has provided legal, administrative, political, and policy guidance to a variety of elected officials and non-governmental organizations. 

Raised in Arizona, he came to Portland in 1998 to attend Lewis & Clark Law School. He and his two children spend free time recreating in the mountains and traveling. He and his family live in Southeast Portland. 

Grace Zarpak
Policy Advisor

Grace was born and raised in Portland, Oregon.  After graduating from Ulysses S. Grant High School she attended Lewis & Clark College where she majored in Political Science.  Upon graduation she began working in City Hall for Mayor Potter.  She continued her work in City Hall working for Mayor Adams and Mayor Hales.  In 2014 she moved to Washington, D.C. to attend Howard University (HU!) where she received her Master's in Elementary Education.  She taught for seven years in Maryland and D.C.  This is when she realized that teachers truly do have superpowers.  In 2022 she returned to Portland to work for Commissioner Gonzalez as a Policy Advisor.   

When not working she enjoys reading all things mystery, cooking/baking, and taking long walks with her husband and young son.   

Grace Galvez Mora
Executive Assistant & Operations Director

Grace was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador. There she earned a Bachelor's degree from Polytechnic University of Ecuador and worked in aviation administration prior to relocating to the United States in 2013. She proudly became a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process and has earned two associates degrees from Pierce College in Washington.  

 Prior to joining Commissioner Gonzalez’s team, Grace spent eight years with Amazon in various roles of successively greater responsibility, one year in the Mayor’s Office and also at the Public Environment Management Office. She brings a wealth of experience in high-performance project, programmatic, and personnel management. In addition, Grace is a certified medical interpreter providing critical language translation and emotional support to diverse family and individualized needs throughout the Greater Portland medical community. Grace is the proud mother of a 10-year-old boy and is conversant in the indigenous language of Runasimi (Quecha), in addition to English and her native Spanish. 

Edna Arilesdy Aguirre Velázquez
Constituent Services Representative 

Edna was born and raised in Mexico. She first came to the United States in 2019, when she moved here with her husband and two children for work. She has recently become a permanent resident.  

Prior to moving to Portland, Edna studied law at CEUX and got her MBA from Cetys University, both in Mexico, and she ran her own logistics business.  

Like many families, the COVID-19 pandemic turned Edna’s life upside-down, as she needed to change careers to support her family, as her husband’s company closed. During this time, she worked in a 24-hour assisted living facility, providing in-home health care for residents with disabilities.  

Over the last few years, she has been focused on giving back to her community, volunteering with CASH Oregon, which supports Portland’s low-income Latino community. She is also passionate about immigration rights, and supporting Portlanders for whom English is not a first language.  

Outside of the office, Edna enjoys spending time with her family, Portland’s beautiful outdoors, cooking, and taking trips.  

Ben DuPree
Communications Director

Ben is a longtime Portland-area political strategist and writer. Over the years, he has provided communications consulting for Democratic members of Congress, government agencies, elected officials, non-profits, and Democratic candidates for public office across Oregon and America. 

He was born and raised in Los Angeles, and originally came to Portland in 2002 to study at Reed College. Away from work, he enjoys writing short fiction, cooking Japanese-style meals, bicycles, watching sumo wrestling, camping, his many cats, video games with good stories, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and time with his family. He lives with his wife and daughter in Southeast Portland.