Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler today announced the addition of two new staff members to his office: Dr. Markisha Smith, who will serve as the Mayor’s special advisor on racial justice and equity while continuing to lead the City’s Office of Equity and Human Rights, and Sam Adams, who will serve as director of strategic innovations and lead work on key second-term policy priorities.
Dr. Smith has served as Director of the City’s Office and Equity and Human Rights since February 2019. She previously served as Director for the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the Oregon Department of Education. She worked as a high school and college educator prior to joining the department. Smith has a doctorate in education from Texas Southern University.
“Adding Dr. Smith to my team ensures her work will be given the platform it needs. She will provide valuable expertise to my office and will help us center equity as we implement my second term agenda,” Mayor Wheeler said.
“Over the years, the Office of Equity team has helped build the foundation of racial justice in the City. With this new role, I look forward to helping Mayor Wheeler and City Council further institutionalize equity in the City’s policies and culture to better serve our currently and historically systemically oppressed communities,” Dr. Smith said.
Sam Adams served as Portland’s mayor from 2009 to 2012. Previously, Adams served one term as a Portland city commissioner and served as Portland Mayor Vera Katz’s chief of staff for 11 years.
Following his time as mayor, Adams served as the executive director of the City Club of Portland and the United States Director for the World Resources Institute, a global nonprofit climate action think tank based in Washington, D.C.
“Sam’s knowledge of Portland City Hall and his track record of action and getting things done is much welcomed,” Mayor Wheeler said. “He’s innovative, smart and energetic. He will play an important role in advancing my second term priorities.”
Mayor Wheeler’s second term priorities include reducing homelessness and the impacts of street camping, cleaning up garbage and graffiti, improving public safety and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the recession it has caused.
Dr. Smith will assume her role as advisor effective February 8. Sam Adams will begin work on Monday, February 1.