City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly has taken another step in her effort to overhaul a troubled bureau.
In an email to staff sent yesterday, she announced that she has hired Suk Rhee, vice president of strategy and community partnership of Northwest Health Foundation, to head the Office of Neighborhood Involvement.
Rhee will start on Aug. 21.
In March, Eudaly pushed out longtime director, Amalia Alarcón de Morris, who'd led the bureau for 11 years.
Since then, her deputy chief of staff, David Austin, has served as interim bureau director.
In December, before taking office, Mayor Ted Wheeler called the bureau the one most in need of an overhaul after an audit found mismanagement and an inequitable funding of neighborhood coalitions. When he took office, he gave the bureau to Eudaly, taking it away from City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, a longtime champion of the bureau's work.
The email to staff is below:
Dear ONI Staff,
I wanted you to be the first to know outside of my office that we are naming a new Director this week. I am pleased to announce the hiring of Suk Rhee as the next Director of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI).
Suk comes to the bureau from the Northwest Health Foundation where she served as Vice President of Strategy and Community Partnership. She’s been involved at all levels of the organization, helping it become one of the preeminent and most celebrated foundations in the Northwest. She has a proven track record when it comes to engaging the community in developing ways to better the lives of all Portlanders.
She is also a big-picture thinker who will help lead our efforts to improve the ways we connect with and support people across our entire community, especially when it comes to diverse populations and underserved communities.
Since my team arrived in January, we’ve worked hard to identify ways we can build on all the good work ONI staff are doing around community engagement, involvement, and action.
Hiring a new director has been one of my top priorities. As part of the search, I asked for input from the community – including a variety of stakeholders and community-based organizations – so I could better understand what Portlanders want to see in a director. That process included conducting an online survey and holding a community forum moderated by Resolutions NW.
I spoke to a variety of potential candidates for this critical position, and in Suk I saw the strongest connection between the profile that emerged from our community input process and her talents, skills, and experience.
Under Suk Rhee, ONI’s efforts will only be strengthened. She is scheduled to begin work on Aug. 21. In the meantime, David Austin will continue as Interim ONI Director, and he will work closely with Suk over the next few weeks to ensure a smooth transition.