Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury today hired Kim Melton to be her new chief of staff.

Melton, a former reporter at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and The Oregonian, worked at the education advocacy group Stand For Children and most recently, as a senior policy advisor to Kafoury in the area of culturally specific county services.

She replaces Nancy Bennett, a longtime Kafoury aide who is moving to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to serve as that agency's manager of policy and external affairs.

"Kim is the rarest combination of analytical thinker and policy wonk with a strong dose of heart,'' Kafoury said in a statement. "At a time when county residents are facing so many issues, she brings a powerful intellect and perspective to my leadership team."

Both women start their new jobs Feb. 15.