August 22nd, 2014 | by NIGEL JAQUISS | by RACHEL GRAHAM CODY News | Posted In: Politics, Schools

Former Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen to Head Charter School

cogenhealthJeff Cogen - Multnomah County

Former Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen, who resigned last September after admitting having an affair with a county health department employee, is taking a new job as the head of Portland's Leadership and Entrepreneurship Public Charter High School.

LEP, which is located at 2044 East Burnside St., served 271 students last year.

Cogen practiced law in California and ran an organic bakery in Portland before entering politics. After serving as chief of staff for former Multnomah County Chairwoman Bev Stein and Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, he ran successfully for the county commission in 2006. 

Then in 2010, when then-county Chairman Ted Wheeler was named state treasurer, Cogen ascended to the county chairmanship. He appeared to have a bright political future and was often mentioned as a potential Portland mayoral candidate. 

But Cogen's career crashed to a halt last summer when a county employee sent an email to all four other commissioners alerting them to an affair Cogen was having with Sonia Manhas, a fast-rising star in the county health department.

Oregon Attorney Ellen Rosenblum later opened a criminal investigation into Cogen's conduct. The probe finished in November without any charges being brought but Cogen was gone from the county by then.

After resigning the chairmanship, Cogen went to work for Democracy Resources, a signature gathering firm.

LEP's board chairman, Gary Berger, confirmed the hire.

"Jeff has been hired by KOREducators as its Executive Director," Berger told WW by email. "KOREducators is the non-profit that runs Leadership and Entrepreneurship Public Charter High School and other education programs. He starts Monday and we are excited for his work to begin furthering our mission, strengthening our relationships with the community and further developing an organization in which young scholars can thrive."

Cogen says that although he has not worked directly in education before that as a political staffer and elected official, he was deeply involved in campaigns and policy work aimed at benefiting children and schools. On a day-to-day basis, he will serve as the charter school's top administrator, overseeing an experienced staff and two vice-principals who are in charge of curriculum and school culture.

"I'm really focused on trying to help kids thrive," Cogen says. "LEP is doing great work and I'm happy to become part of it."  

 
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