Gov. Kate Brown's Embattled Chief of Staff Departs

For the second time in a little over a year, Gov. Kate Brown has abruptly changed her chief of staff. Brown announced the resignation of her current chief, Kristen Leonard, on Jan. 3. Last month, WW reported that Leonard had failed to disclose potential conflicts of interest involving a contract her husband's company had with the state, and also his lobbying on behalf of district attorneys. Leonard belatedly made the disclosures, but the issue was awkward for Brown, who had pledged to clean up state government after conflicts of interest led to the resignation of her predecessor, Gov. John Kitzhaber. Leonard, who replaced Brown's first chief of staff, Brian Shipley, less than 14 months ago, will leave Brown's office Jan. 31—one day before the start of what promises to be a bruising 2017 legislative session. Brown praised Leonard in a statement. "Kristen executed this job with integrity and distinction, and I am grateful for her dedicated service," she said.

Top Portland Advertising Firm Sold

One of the city's oldest and best-known advertising/public relations firms is changing hands. Brian Gard, who founded Gard Communications in 1979, is selling the firm to its managing director, Liz Fuller. Gard, 70, built a stable of institutional clients such as the Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Health & Science University, and the Standard Insurance Company—but he's also been the city's go-to crisis communications adviser for executives. He's helped former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt, investor Peter Stott and Frank Foti, CEO of ship-repair company Vigor Industrial, among many others, and led the business coalition that fought for years to build the Columbia River Crossing project. Gard says Fuller, 32, will buy the firm from him in the next several years for an undisclosed amount, during which time he'll continue to work with clients and help with the transition. "Liz and I have shared leadership of the firm for a couple of years," Gard says. "I hope to continue helping her for a long period of time."

Give!Guide Raises More Than $4 Million

WW's 2016 Give!Guide might just have been Portland's biggest New Year's Eve event. Including stragglers who gave after the midnight deadline, funds raised hit $4.249 million—an increase of $749,000 over last year. And 9,319 individuals made donations—430 more than last year. One of G!G's major goals is to encourage giving from Portlanders under age 36. Those numbers also increased. Next week, we'll have a full report with lots of data, including winners of the Schlesinger Family Foundation Challenge. We also remind you to celebrate our five fantastic Skidmore Prize winners: Casey Block from College Possible, Cole Merkel at Street Roots, Daisha Tate at North by Northeast Community Health Center, Janice Martellucci at Peace in Schools, and Jasmine Pettet at Outside In. To all WW readers who gave this year: Thank you!