Portland arts leader hired as City's new arts program manager

Press Release
A statewide leader in arts advocacy and funding, Jeff Hawthorne previously worked for the Regional Arts & Culture Council.

After two decades advocating for the local arts community, Jeff Hawthorne is taking on a new role: arts program manager for the City of Portland.

Photo of man outside, smiling and wearing a blue blazer
Jeff Hawthorne. Photographer: Intisar Abioto

Hawthorne, who started his new job Nov. 12, brings an extensive background in arts and culture. He served as  the director of community engagement for 18 years and then served as the interim executive director for a year and a half at the the Regional Arts & Culture Council – the City's nonprofit partner. During his time at RACC, Hawthorne designed and implemented Oregon’s first United Arts Fund campaign. This initiative secured funding for the Right Brain Initiative, a partnership designed to make art more accessible to grade school and middle school students.

A board member of Oregon’s Cultural Advocacy Coalition, Hawthorne was recently appointed to serve as the state’s Arts Advocacy Captain. He was also instrumental in securing $50 million in federal CARES Act funding for arts organizations and venues across the state.  

“Now, more than ever, we rely on culture, creativity and the arts to help us recover from the trauma of the past year, achieve more equitable outcomes, and rebuild our economy,” said Jeff. “I am honored to serve as the City’s Arts Program Manager and I look forward to working with city leaders, RACC and other stakeholders to lift up our arts and culture sector and leverage our creative community for a brighter future.”

Hawthorne is also no stranger to the City of Portland. He worked under former Mayor Sam Adams and co-authored the region’s 2009 cultural action plan, Act for Art. This plan laid the groundwork for the City’s Arts Education and Access Fund. In 2015 Jeff received the Michael Newton Award from Americans for the Arts in recognition of his innovative work in developing public-private partnerships and funding for the arts.

The arts program manager position was previously held by Giyen Kim, who has transitioned into managing CARES Act funding distribution.

Hawthorne was born in Portland, grew up in Aloha and received a theater management degree from the University of Portland. He lives in the Overlook neighborhood with his partner, Frankie; a black Labrador, Lucy; and two chickens.


Heather Hafer

Public Information Officer, Office of Management and Finance