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Most City of Portland offices will be closed Monday, May 29, in observance of Memorial Day.

About the Portland Utility Board

Basic information about the purpose and current board members.
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Purpose of the Board

The Portland Utility Board (PUB) is a community oversight body whose purpose is to advise City Council and bureau leadership on budgetary and policy matters related to the two utility bureaus, the Bureau of Environmental Services and the Portland Water Bureau. PUB believes every person is entitled to clean and affordable drinking water, healthy communities, and healthy watersheds.

PUB believes and acts upon anti-racist principles. We must hold ourselves and the Bureaus accountable for identifying and addressing racism, systemic racism, and structural inequities. In interacting with the PUB, while every person has the right to share their personal perspective, we stand against wrongful conduct, particularly any conduct that is targeted toward people that are made vulnerable by systemic inequities.

Read the full version of PUB's Beliefs, Values and Anti-Racist Principles:

PUB has 11 voting members and three ex-officio members. One voting member of the PUB is a current employee in a represented bargaining unit with the Portland Water Bureau or the Bureau of Environmental Services. Members are appointed by the Mayor, in consultation with the Commissioner-in-Charge. The Mayor and Council strive to have PUB reflect the diversity of the Portland community.

Current Members

Voting Members

Robin Castro (Co-Chair) is a working class East Portland renter. She received a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Studies with a focus on Public Policy from Portland State University in June 2021. She was also an elected member of the student government at Portland State - representing over 26,000 university students at the state’s largest and most diverse public university. She comes from a long line of working-class people who have experienced economic hardship and hopes to merge her personal experience with poverty and her educational background to provide procedural and environmental justice for her community.

Term: January 1, 2021 - June 30, 2023

Co-Chair Term: January 1, 2023- June 30, 2023 (pending)

Karen Williams (Co-Chair) brings experience in hydrogeology, watershed planning, water quality and public administration to PUB. After several years as an environmental geologist and project manager, she joined the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and supported watershed councils, local governments and others working across Oregon to measure and improve stream quality.  She's now a policy analyst at DEQ and helps to reduce air pollution from cars and trucks. Karen has enjoyed past service on boards for small nonprofit organizations, her union, neighborhood association, and community budget advisory committees. 

Term: July 1, 2022 - June 30, 2025

Co-chair Term: July 1, 2021-December 31, 2022 (extension to June 2023 pending)

Alexis Rife works in the environmental non-profit sector, primarily on natural resource management . Her work is largely focused on understanding the dynamics of complex, intersecting systems that shape fisheries, especially working closely with coastal communities in Southeast Asia and Latin America. Alexis brings much experience in facilitating collaborative processes, designing and applying participatory processes, and ensuring that voices of all stakeholders are involved in decision-making. She holds a firm commitment to advancing equity and environmental justice in our world and is especially interested in access to information. Alexis volunteers with a range of local organizations, especially those in North Portland. 

Term: July 1, 2022 - June 30, 2025

Bob Sallinger has 30-years of experience working on conservation issues in the Portland Metro Area and across the state of Oregon. His areas of focus are habitat protection and restoration, green infrastructure, access to nature, and biodiversity. Much of his work has focused on urban conservation and he is passionate about creating green sustainable, equitable urban landscapes where everybody is able to enjoy the environmental, social, economic and health benefits of a healthy landscape and where wildlife is able to coexist. He has served on numerous public committees including the Portland Parks Board, as an elected Director at the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, on the Bureau of Environmental Services stakeholder committee that developed the Portland Watershed Management Plan and on multiple budget committees for Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, Portland Parks and Recreation and the Portland Bureau of Planning. He has worked for the Audubon Society of Portland for 30-years and currently serves as their director of conservation. Earlier in his career, he ran Portland Audubon's Wildlife Rehabilitation Center where he oversaw the treatment of more than 40,000 injured wild animals. He has a degree in biology from Reed College and a law degree with an environmental certificate from Lewis and Clark Law School.  He lives with his family in NE Portland with an assortment of dogs, goats, chickens and pigeons.

Term: July 1, 2022 - June 30, 2025

Christopher Richard (Chris) is an Accountant II in the Bureau of Environmental Services and a member of AFSCME Local 189. Chris has been with the BES since 2008 and joined the City shortly after Portland converted to SAP. He has years of experience as a super user with the system in the private sector. Additionally, Chris has over 25 years of Accounting experience in both the private sector as well as public/ government sector with Accounting, Purchasing & Procurement. Chris lives in Portland with his husband John, dog Honey. He enjoys reading and all things sci-fi and fantasy.

Term: July 1, 2022 - June 30, 2025

Heather Day-Melgar holds a BA in psychology, and is completing an MS in geography, spring of 2023, with an emphasis in urban climate change solutions and adaptation. She has 13 years of experience as a social worker, working with vulnerable and at-risk populations. She is now doing research on nature-based climate solutions for urban areas to help mitigate rising temperatures and extreme heat events, which centers around racial and environmental justice, and traditional Indigenous knowledges for land management. She has many years of experience as a leader in grassroots community activism for social justice. Heather has interests in policy around climate change mitigation and urban development, as well as local government, and feels the PUB is a great way to serve her community and learn more about local policy and decision making. She volunteers with the local nonprofit Solve, which helps clean up the Portland metro area. In her spare time, Heather enjoys hiking, nature photography, gardening, yoga, and playing ukelele.

Term: July 1, 2022 - June 30, 2025

Julia DeGraw is the Coalition Director for the Oregon League of Conservation Voters and has spent her entire career in the environmental nonprofit sector. She was born and raised in the Portland Metro region and has lived here her entire life except for four years of college in Wisconsin where she earned a BS in Environmental Studies and Sociology from Northland College. Much of her career has focused on water issues including her nine year stint at Food & Water Watch as the Senior Northwest Organizer where she often advocated for Portland water issues. She is passionate about ensuring a clean environment for future generations, sanitation and clean affordable water for all, and dismantling systemic racism in Portland. Her experience interacting with thousands of residents from her campaigns for public office, alongside her professional experiences make her uniquely suited to serve the diverse interests of people of Portland on the PUB.

Term: January 1, 2021 - June 30, 2023

Lorraine Wilson is an immigrant from the beautiful twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago, who moved to the United States 21+ years ago.  Coming from a family of educators and humanitarians, she resisted the natural path to becoming an educator.  However, over the years she has embraced her natural leaning towards learning, coaching and authentic communication and have continued her calling to speak up and act against injustices and inhumanity.

Her field of study is in Organizational Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Behavior (Culture Change), with a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and BSc. in Business Management (emphasis on Organizational Behavior).

Lorraine’s upbringing was grounded in racial justice and as such she volunteered in various areas to drive those conversations and changes.  She served as a Commissioner on the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs (OCBA) from 2010 -2013 serving as Vice Chair. There she championed racial equity and challenged the state to focus on hate crimes during the “Post Racial” period (2008-2016).  She was a member of the Eugene 4J School District Equity Committee with a focus on closing the achievement/opportunity gap, United Coalition of Color (working on the Disproportionate Minority contact at Lane County Department of Youth Services).  She is also a member of Blacks In Government (BIG) - Eugene/Springfield Branch, having served as the membership chair and National Legislative representative for Region 10.  She is currently serving on the Board of Resolution Northwest. (RNW) and a Board Aunty of Brown Girls Rise. Lorraine also served on the Portland Harbor Community Grant Review Committee and advocated successfully for increased funding for community groups, Children Levy fund reviewer and Oregon Community Fund Grant Reviewer.

Lorraine has facilitated inclusive Strategic Planning with Brown Girls Rise, Co-Facilitated - American Association of University Women (AAUW) Washington Online Branch – Diversity and Inclusion Online Training and as a Board member at RNW, part of the strategic focus on dismantling white supremacy within the organization, and have contributed to conversations challenging the status quo.

What you are guaranteed to get is honest, thoughtful, humane consideration.  Lorraine considers herself a thought leader in dissecting systemic racism and anti-blackness

Term: July 1, 2022 - June 30, 2025

Theresa Huang is a planner serving as Project Development Specialist at the Urban Greenspaces Institute. Spending her childhood in Taiwan and upbringing in Oregon, she brings her experience and perspectives that shaped her passion for environmental and social justice to help bring people and nature closer to each other. In addition, she also has a deep understanding of the barriers to engagement and communications that many underserved communities face, especially with the immigrant and refugee community. She completed her studies in environmental studies and urban planning at UO and PSU, and has experience in planning, environmental restoration, urban forestry, and community outreach through her work with Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Friends of Trees, and other nonprofits based in Eugene. Theresa is also a board member of Depave, a local nonprofit that removes over-paved areas to transform it into greenspaces.

Term: January 1, 2021 - June 30, 2023

Tom Liptan, fasla - As a landscape architect Tom worked with the City of Portland, Bureau of Environmental Service for 26 years. He was the catalyst behind research and development of vegetative systems (Green Infrastructure) for rain and stormwater management. He started at BES in Customer Service where he worked across all city neighborhoods and particularly on the eastside Mid-County Sewer Project. Then he was assigned as the team leader for the preparation and implementation of Portland’s first MS4 permit. He participated in the city’s CSO compliance project and watershed planning. These projects required extensive interaction with other city bureaus including PBOT, Parks, Urban Forestry and Water Bureau. Since the 1990s he has documented the benefits of stormwater management using vegetated systems and the economic pay-back of such approaches. The first ecoroof in Portland was installed on his garage roof in 1996, over the next several years BES initiated the construction and monitoring of numerous green demonstration projects which all proved to be very successful. Before coming to Portland, he started his career as a parks, forestry and lake restoration planner with the city of Orlando Fl. Designing his first “green” stormwater management project in 1978. In 1980 he, with his family, moved to Portland. He went into the private sector working on commercial and residential developments and the first light rail project in East Portland. He has been recognized for this green infrastructure work and has presented papers at more than 200 conferences in the USA and internationally. He volunteers with GRIT (greenroof advocacy), Urban Greenspaces Institute, 82nd Ave Coalition and he testifies at city council, PSC, Urban Forestry, and Design Review regarding green infrastructure. In his book, Sustainable Stormwater Management, (Timber Press 2017) he documents 40 years of green infrastructure. Today he continues to research the benefits of vegetative systems and provides pro-bono consultation to developers and municipalities.

Term: January 1, 2021 - June 30, 2023

Ex-officio Members

Joseph Spada (Joe) is a Water Service Inspector II for the Portland Water Bureau. Joe started his journey in public utilities in 2013 at Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative on the Oregon coast. In 2015, he joined the Water Bureau Call Center as a Customer Accounts Specialist I and for the past six years has interacted with customers in the field. His combined experience allows for a broader, more in depth understanding of how the Water Bureau’s customer service operates and interacts internally and externally. Joe feels honored and privileged that he is able to work for the city in which he lives and strives to provide quality, efficient service to Portland’s residents, businesses, and communities.

Outside of work, Joe has previously served as a Chapter chair for his labor union AFSCME 189, and currently serves as a Trustee. In his personal life, on a regular Sunday morning, you can find Joe in his online tutoring sessions learning Romanian so that he can better connect with his wife and in-laws, and make new connections with the Moldovan/Romanian communities here in Portland.

Term: July 1, 2022 - June 30, 2023

Sarah Messier (she/her) is a Water Quality Information Program Coordinator at the Portland Water Bureau.

Sarah has worked in the Water Quality Information group at PWB since 2014. Her work includes managing a lead hazard reduction grant program, conducting lead-in-water outreach, producing the annual Drinking Water Quality Report, preparing for emergency communication events, and increasing native language and disability access to water quality information. She has a strong interest in improving workplace culture and co-leads an equity discussion series for the Water Quality group to increase workplace inclusion and delivery of equitable outcomes. Sarah has a Bachelor of Science in Marine and Freshwater Biology from University of New Hampshire and a Masters of Science in Marine Resource Management from Oregon State University.

Outside of work, you can find Sarah exploring nature with her family, baking with her two young kids, tending her houseplants, and reading as much as she can.

Term: July 1, 2022 - June 30, 2023