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Meet the Government Transition Advisory Committee

Information
Illustration of 3 people standing with words Meet the Committee
Fifteen commissioners, four alternates and two reserve alternates were appointed to Portland’s first Government Transition Advisory Committee on March 22, 2023. The committee is the primary community engagement body for the implementation of Portland's new voter-approved charter.

All committee members live, work, worship, or are enrolled in school within the City of Portland, and represent a diversity of race, gender, age, color, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, mental or physical abilities, sources of income, and geography.

The Government Transition Advisory Committee will help ensure implementation of the Measure 26-228 charter amendments is done effectively and efficiently through consistent public engagement with Portlanders.

The Government Transition Advisory Committee will be responsible for:

  • Ensuring implementation of November 2022 voter-approved Charter amendments is done effectively and efficiently, following the City’s core values of anti-racism, equity, communication, collaboration, transparency and fiscal responsibility.
  • Maintaining open and consistent communication and engagement with internal and external stakeholders throughout the transition, and ensure input is meaningfully integrated into the City’s implementation of the November 2022 voter-approved Charter amendments. Other than districting-specific public input, serving as the primary solicitor and repository of public input related to the transition.
  • Advising the City on the November 2022 voter-approved Charter amendments transition plan and community education and engagement plan, including project schedule and project budget, resource allocation and funding strategy. 

Appointment Process

In the appointment process, 79 applications were received and considered for nomination by the Transition project team. Council office staff selected the final list of appointees for final approval by Portland City Council.

Selection criteria

  • Skills, knowledge and lived experience that will help the Government Transition Advisory Committee fulfill its roles and responsibilities particularly around municipal or civic administration, stakeholder engagement, and project planning and implementation.
     
  • Commitment to, and experience with, advancing the City’s core values of anti-racism, equity,communication, collaboration, transparency, and fiscal responsibilities.
     
  • Interest and experience in the City’s transition elements, e.g. municipal administration, financial and budget planning and operations, ranked choice voting and district-based elections, and roles and responsibilities of the new expanded Council and Mayor.
     
  • Experience working with and on issues impacting Black, Indigenous and other people of color and other communities historically left out of City Hall decision making.
     
  • Willingness to leverage community connections to support community engagement efforts of the Government Transition Advisory Committee.
     
  • Comfort with, and willingness to work on a highly visible advisory committee, that is likely to draw media attention and community advocacy.
     
  • Ability to commit the time.

Members


Brian Belica

Portrait of Brian Belica
"Solving the challenges our city faces today must be solved with action, leadership, and accountability. I'm excited to have the opportunity to influence a system that makes Portland a place where everyone can succeed and has the opportunity to excel!"

Brian is a Finance & Strategy Director with a diverse professional background across engineering, operations, change management, and finance. He has worked across multiple industries, including aerospace, healthcare, renewable energy, and consumer goods at Fortune 50 companies, learning how to navigate complex organizations to drive tangible, measurable results with clear accountability. After developing a passion for Portland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, he also started a small business focused on bringing sustainable, healthy options to the pet industry – further developing an appreciation and compassion for Portland’s small businesses.

Brian settled in SE Portland after living in several major cities across the country and globally, seeing firsthand the struggles and successes cities can go through. In his spare time, Brian enjoys biking, hiking, kayaking, and exploring across the Pacific Northwest. He has degrees in Engineering and Accounting from Miami University.


Leah Benson

Portrait of Leah Benson
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a government that is inclusive, accessible, and successful for all Portlanders."

Leah (she/they) was born and raised in rural Wisconsin but has called Portland home for the past fifteen years and plans to do so for the rest of her days. She is the owner Banter Consulting & Creative, where she provides equity-centered nonprofit and small business strategy, organizational development, and participatory facilitation services in Portland and beyond.

In previous lives she's been the founder and owner of a local bike shop (Gladys Bikes in NE Portland), a community organizer, an event planner, and a HIV counselor. Leah currently serves as a board member of Girls Build and Street Books. Interwoven with her paid and volunteer work, you can find Leah watching 35mm films at the Hollywood Theater, birding at Whitaker Ponds, riding her bike to the top of every peak in the city limits, and coaching and performing at live storytelling events.


Jane DeMarco

Portrait of Jane DeMarco
“I am honored to help work toward this BIG change. Growth and comfort often don’t coexist, but in building coalitions, promoting solutions and tapping into the synergy in people… amazing things happen!”

Jane arrived in Portland 48 years ago from the United Kingdom. The downtown core was being reimagined with light rail, a transit mall and a community square. The plan to bring people back to the city center to work, shop, play and live worked! As a new Portland convert, Jane became a life-long evangelist for her city and all her neighborhoods. Educated in England, Jane joined the British equivalent of the Peace Corps teaching in West Africa. She’s been a teacher in England and a teacher and Principal in Portland.

Her careers have included working for a public relations firm, where she directed major events, including the first holiday celebrations at Pioneer Courthouse Square. At the Port of Portland her work included creating and managing the Community Affairs Program, bringing diverse stakeholders to assist in decision making. She wrapped her working life as the Executive Director of Lan Su Chinese Garden, responsible for the management of one of Portland’s biggest visitor attractions. An optimist by nature and a strategist by training Jane likes Mark Twain’s approach, “The secret of making progress is to get started.”


Jose Gamero-Georgeson

Portrait of Jose Gamero Cassinelli
"Our citizens have decided it is time to change our City government. To ensure that this transition goes smoothly, I believe it is imperative that we have voices at the table that represent all Portlanders."

Jose Gamero-Georgeson was born in Trujillo, Peru before immigrating to Miami, Florida at the age of seven. He moved to Portland shortly after graduating from the University of Florida in 2007. He became disabled in 2015 after suffering two strokes and then in March 2017, after the Supreme Court granted same-sex couples the right for their marriages to be federally recognized, Jose became a U.S. Citizen. Being a disabled, gay, Latino immigrant has made it very important for Jose to work to make his neighborhood, city, and state, as accessible and inclusive as possible.

He currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association. Jose is an elected Precinct Committee Person of the Multnomah County Democratic Party, as well as a Delegate to Oregon’s Third Congressional District. Before his strokes, Jose was an avid social dancer and was the Executive Director of the Portland Blues & Jazz Dance Society. Now, he spends his free time with his amazing husband, family, and cherished dogs. You can often find Jose trying a new restaurant or looking for the next place to travel to.


 Terry Harris

Portrait of Terry Harris
“In a consequential election, the voters have spoken, approving huge changes to the Portland’s form of government, to be implemented in a short period of time. It’s incredibly important that we get this right, and I look forward to helping however I can.”

Terry Harris is an environmental activist and Maryland attorney. Prior to moving to Portland, he maintained a diverse civil and environmental law practice in Baltimore, where he also served on many environmental non-profit boards, advisory commissions, and legislative workgroups. Among other roles, he chaired Maryland’s state-level coordinating coalition of environmental organizations and was a member of the Sierra Club’s National Advisory Committee on Environmental Justice. When Baltimore was considering major charter changes for its form of government in 2001, he was appointed to its study commission on the size and structure of the Baltimore City Council.

After moving from Baltimore, he was appointed Executive Director of Kootenai Environmental Alliance in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Later, while an adjunct instructor at Chapman University School of Law, he chaired a citizens advisory committee in Yorba Linda, California, leading a review of water rates in a drought emergency. He has a B.S. from the University of Colorado and a J.D. with honors from the University of Maryland School of Law. He lives in Hillsdale with his partner Linda, three cats, and an occasional litter of foster kittens for Northwest Animal Companions.


 Lory Hefele

Portrait of Lory Hefele
“I believe these charter amendments are foundational to the changes many of us would like to see in our city. I look forward to guiding the process with rigor, ensuring the proposals are implemented in a way that reflects Portland’s core values."

Lory Hefele grew up in Indiana and graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Chemical Engineering. She moved to Portland in 2004 on a temporary assignment with Intel Corporation and never left. Leading organizations in engineering, manufacturing and supply chain, Lory retired from Intel in 2016 after 21 years with the company.

As an engineer, she values data, measurement systems, efficient process, and accountability. As a leader of worldwide teams, she understands the importance of transparency, effective communications, cross cultural awareness, collaboration, and trust.

Throughout her career, Lory focused her energy on inclusion and collaboration, working towards a shared purpose. She has volunteered for several community organizations and most recently chaired the board of directors for a local nonprofit, Girls on the Run Greater Oregon, a positive youth development program focused on empowering young girls. Lory is excited to bring her time and experience to this important transition for Portland.


Joe Hertzberg

Portrait of Joe Hertzberg
“I welcome this unique opportunity to use my professional and personal life experience to help the city I love transition to a more effective and more representative future.”

Joe recently retired from a 35-year career as a consultant in Portland helping organizations and their leaders make critical decisions, work together more effectively, and make a positive difference in their communities.

He worked with businesses large and small, nonprofit organizations, and public agencies including many Oregon cities and counties. He assisted multiple bureaus in the City of Portland, served as interim director of the Housing Bureau, and was a member of the 2006-07 charter commission that unsuccessfully recommended a change in the city’s form of government.

He has been board chair of Friends of the Children, the Red Door Project, and the Steve Lowenstein Trust. The son of war refugees, Joe has lived in Portland all of his adult life. His own four children – and now two grandchildren – attended Portland Public Schools.


Juliet Hyams

Portrait of Juliet Hyams
“I look forward to applying my enthusiasm for city management and community advocacy to our government transition. Portland has a golden opportunity to create a healthy, energized, accountable city government. It must attract and retain city staff who can advance Portland’s goals and thrive within our new system.”

Juliet currently works in regional economic development, in which she partners regularly with cities and city staff. As a former city manager, Juliet Hyams brings the voice of experience to the Government Transition Advisory Committee. She also has extensive knowledge of Portland’s neighborhood system, having served as President of the Northwest District Association and a board member of Neighbors west/Northwest coalition, representing seven northwest and four southwest Portland neighborhoods.

Previous city appointments include to the Central City Urban Renewal Advisory and NW Parking Committees. Juliet has also engaged with Portland’s economic development efforts, through involvement with the 42nd Avenue Business Association and Our 42nd Avenue Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative.

In the private sector, she has been a technical writer, marketer, grant writer, business owner and real estate investor in the Portland region. Juliet relishes the opportunity to help Portland through the sea change to its new charter. Her favorite part of city management were fostering teamwork with council and creative community outreach. She will advocate for applying change management principles to this historic culture shift in Portland’s governance. Juliet holds a BA in journalism from the University of Oregon, as well as an Executive Master of Public Administration from Portland State University.


Zach Kearl

Portrait of Zach Kearl
"I am excited for the opportunity to realize our collective vision of a city that serves and is represented by its diverse residents."

Zach (he/him) is a policy scientist with the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington, where he obtained an MPA at the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance.

Prior to his current role, he served as a policy advisor for Mayor Wheeler in the City of Portland. Having worked on wicked problems from water management to homelessness to climate and health, he is an advocate for rethinking structures of governance to improve inter- and intra-governmental coordination.

Although born and raised in San Antonio, Zach has proudly called Portland home for the last sixteen years. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, supporting the Trail Blazers, and testing his trivia knowledge at local establishments in NE Portland.


William Kinsey

Portrait of William Kinsey-
“I would seek to: develop a healthful esprit de corps among Committee members; contribute to forming constructive advice to guide the transition; effectuate a governmental transition that Portland’s many constituencies support and trust as fair."

Bill is a native Portlander with commitment to the City and the Pacific Northwest. He completed a legal career as an environmental attorney with the Bonneville Power Administration, where he worked to improve effects of Bonneville activities on fish and wildlife. He graduated from Wilson (Ida B. Wells) High School, then earned a B.A. (Economics) at Stanford University, a J.D. at Harvard Law School, and an M.A. at Reed College. He is a past member of Portland City Club committees and past chair of the Citizen Budget Advisory Committee for the Portland Police Bureau. Currently, he is an active member of the American Bar Association (ABA) and the ABA’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER), including SEER’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Committee.

He is a volunteer with the Oregon Chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and two local nonprofit organizations, where he participates on budget and stewardship committees. He regularly exercises, especially by hiking on Portland’s wooded trials, and he is a volunteer citizen scientist at the Hoyt Arboretum.


Destiny Magaña-Pablo

Portrait of Destiny Magaña-Pablo
“I've seen that when diverse people show up to best serve their neighbors and families- we create better communities. I am excited to listen, learn, and collaboratively change Portland's democracy to create systems that are equitable and transparent."

Destiny Magaña-Pablo brings an unwavering dedication to establishing equitable processes and systems change. Born in Portland, Destiny is the eldest daughter of immigrants and comes from a long line of strong women whose resilience motivates her work. She has extensive experience supporting students, families, and providers in the education systems, preschool, high school, and higher education.

Destiny is the Bilingual Coordinated Enrollment Project Manager for the Early Learning Multnomah Preschool Promise program, and she previously served as a Telecounselor at Portland State University (PSU) and a College Advocate Mentor with Portland Public Schools.

Destiny serves as a member of the Equity Action Team at the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette and a member of the Cultural Resource Centers Advisory Council at PSU. Destiny focuses on supporting and listening to people's experiences to identify barriers to accessing resources, services, and quality education. Destiny is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Criminology & Criminal Justice with a research focus on social movements at PSU. The passion in her work is to convene and gather input from diverse stakeholders to eliminate systemic barriers commonly experienced by our communities, Black, Indigenous, Latino, Asian, immigrant, refugee, LGTBQ, and all communities within Multnomah County.


Fred Neal

Portrait of Fred Neal
“I have strived for a consolidated City of Portland government for 30 years. I’m excited about finally helping make it a reality!"

Fred Neal was raised in Ashland, Oregon, and has been a Portland resident since 1964. He attended Lewis and Clark Law School and was a member of the Bar from 1979 until 1993.

He has held various government positions in Oregon, advising state and local appointed and elected officials in policy formulation and implementation. Neal served as an attorney for the Oregon legislature, Legal Counsel for the League of Oregon Cities, Intergovernmental Relations Officer for Multnomah County and retired in 2006 from as a manager in the Elections Division of the Oregon Secretary of State.

As a life-long advocate for civil rights and civil liberties Neal formerly chaired the Right to Privacy PAC, was the national ACLU Board of Directors Affiliate Affirmative Action Officer for seven years and served on the Oregon ACLU board from 1987 to 2017. Neal serves on the board of the Oregon State Capitol Foundation and was its chair from 2015 to 2017. He is currently chair of the foundation’s History Committee. He has lived in the Piedmont neighborhood with his husband for 25 years.


Amy Randel

Portrait of Amy Randel
"I'm passionate about demystifying the world of governance and empowering my community to keep leaders accountable and responsive to the needs of every person they serve."

Amy Randel is an experienced political and public affairs professional currently living in Portland, Oregon, with strong ties in the San Francisco bay area. Her diverse background includes work in local government, electoral politics, strategic communications and community organizing. Her political experience began as a Poli Sci student at Portland State University. During her time as a student, she cut her teeth as an aide in the Oregon State Senate and was involved in the 2011 redistricting process. This began her specific interest and expertise in governance mechanics, which she has continued to study and be interested in to this day. She went on to work formally in the political realm as a campaign staffer over five election cycles, where she gained an advanced understanding of public administration and governance, focusing on public policy at the city and county level. In these roles she gained experience that would be invaluable to the committee. 

After her campaign work, she went on to professionally administer a large community program that was a partnership of the City/County of San Francisco and their school district. In this role she worked on the government side and gained a granular knowledge of the mechanics of public real estate, jurisdiction and the lived role of government structures. She also served as a community leader in political organizations, most notably as the political director for the East Bay Young democrats, where she worked closely in a citizen advisory capacity with local leaders and elected officials.

She has a passion for innovation and organizational building and community strategy. Currently Amy is the Manager of Communication and Education for Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture. Amy holds a BA in Political Science from Portland State University and served as a JDC Fellow in Kiev, Ukraine. She is a voracious learner, history enthusiast and spends as much time as possible reading, tinkering and enjoying the outdoors- particularly trees.


Juanita Santana

Ms. Santana retired as the Executive Director of the San Francisco State University (SFSU) Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Be

Portrait of Juanita Santana
"I am excited for this historical opportunity to support and participate in redesigning City government through an inclusive process, creating an organizational infrastructure that meets the needs of Portland’s citizens effectively and efficiently."

fore that, Ms. Santana worked, for 14 years, as the Oregon Child Development Coalition's Executive Director. The program operates federally-funded Migrant and Seasonal Head Start; and, state-funded Head Start programs across Oregon. Ms. Santana was instrumental in introducing legislation adding language to the Head Start Act to include services to the children of seasonal farm workers.

This change, approved by the U.S. Congress, allowed thousands of seasonal farmworker children to receive Head Start services while their parents work in agriculture. Ms. Santana received a Master's in Business Administration from the University of Northern Colorado. She is a National Head Start Fellow and a Head Start/Johnson & Johnson/Anderson Graduate School of Business UCLA Fellow. Ms. Santana is a current member of the Oregon State AARP Diversity Advisory Committee and a past member of the Oregon Retirement Savings Board.