Port of Portland public affairs director Tom Imeson is moving to a similar position at NW Natural, Port Executive Director Bill Wyatt announced today.

Imeson is one of the best-connected figures in Oregon. A former longtime aide to the late U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.), he later served as chief of staff to Gov. Neil Goldschmidt and also as lead the transition teams for Govs. John Kitzhaber (twice) and Ted Kulongoski.

At NW Natural, Imeson will be reunited with the gas utility's CEO, Gregg Kantor, who served worked for Imeson as Goldschmidt's gubernatorial spokesman.

Imeson also has longstanding ties to two key NW Natural board members, John Carter and Mark Dodson. Imeson was business partners with Carter in the consulting firm Goldschmidt Imeson Carter prior to taking his job at the Port; and he and Dodson, another longtime Goldschmidt ally, owned a vacation home in California together. Dodson preceded Kantor as NW Natural's CEO. 

Here's the announcement Wyatt sent out today: 

Greetings! I want to update you on another change to my management team.  Although this one was not really of my choosing, the change has my full support. Public Affairs Director Tom Imeson has accepted a great new leadership opportunity.  He will leave the Port on March 28 and will immediately begin his new role as Vice President of Public Affairs at Northwest Natural.  In the past ten years, Tom has made significant contributions to the Port of Portland, first as a Commissioner and then as Public Affairs Director.  Under Tom's leadership, the Public Affairs division has focused on obtaining funding for Port priority projects, improving public policies that support Port objectives, supporting our business with high quality communications and marketing services, and managing the myriad of public issues that come our way. Specifically, he spearheaded our new strategic planning process and  helped move the complex superfund project to the forefront for Oregon’s delegation in Washington D.C. as well as with the Environmental Protection Agency.  In addition, he provided leadership to our sustainability, environmental and transportation policies and programs. Tom also continues to give generously of his time to other public service.  Governor John Kitzhaber recently appointed Tom to the Oregon Board of Forestry, of which he is chair, as well as the Portland State University Board of Trustees.  He also is a trustee and former chair of  The Nature Conservancy and serves on the boards of Special Olympics Oregon and the Portland Business Alliance. His vision and deep commitment to Oregon will be missed at the Port, but I wish him every success in this next chapter of his career. In the interim, the Port’s new Deputy Executive Director, Curtis Robinhold, who will start at the Port February 3, will assume Tom’s responsibilities on March 31 and will make decisions regarding the succession plan. Again, please join me in wishing Tom all the best. Bill