Rob Ingram, director of Portland's Office of Youth Violence Prevention under three City Commissioners, died today of a heart attack, according to a friend. He was 38.

In that position, created under Mayor Tom Potter, Ingram played a key civilian role in the city's gang counter-recruitment efforts, supervising a team of outreach workers who met with "disconnected" youth around the city.

A self-described former gang associate, Ingram's frank-talk approach to youth sometimes put him at odds those favoring harsh punishment. He believed the mandatory minimum sentences imposed by Measure 11 in the mid-1990s helped create a new generation of gang members.

"I don't work for the police. I work for the kids on this street and the people in the community here," he told WW at a meeting last week at Elevated Café on North Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, where he often started his day before making the rounds at the Lloyd Center mall and other teen magnets.

In addition to his work for the city, Ingram was well-known in Portland's African-American community, and active in non-profit groups including the Urban League and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Ingram's friends and acquaintances are posting condolences on Facebook and Twitter. "This is so incredibly sad. Rob was such a very good man whose loss will leave a very big hole in the community," Oregon Sen. Chip Shields (D-North Portland) writes.

Ingram had been married to his wife Dana for 11 years and was father to five children, according to his personal Facebook page.

Mayor Sam Adams' office was not immediately available for comment.

Update 6pm: Adams' spokeswoman Amy Ruiz says Ingram's pastor is handling communications at the request of the family.

Bishop Steven Holt of the International Fellowship Family on Northeast 122nd Avenue says Ingram's death was "very much a shock" to friends and family.

"Rob was a well-loved, well cared-for guy, who was very involved in making a difference," Holt says. "He loved Christ and he loved his community. He loved his family."

Ingram died, apparently of a heart attack, before he was able to reach the hospital, Holt says. Plans for a memorial service have not yet been set.

Update Nov. 28: The mayor's office released the following statement:

Today, sadly, we lost a friend and public servant, Rob Ingram, who was passionately dedicated to the success of all Portlanders, especially our youth of color.

Rob was a man of wit and wisdom and he will be deeply missed.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his spouse Dana and his entire family.