A former New Jersey state senator will join mayor-elect Ted Wheeler's staff as a senior adviser.
Barbara Buono ran against Chris Christie for governor in 2013 and previously served as New Jersey's Senate majority leader.
She also served as a local police commissioner, according to the press release from Wheeler's staff announcing her hiring.
"The challenges we face as a city are significant. So are the opportunities," said Wheeler in a statement announcing his staff. "We've been able to assemble a talented team with the knowledge and experience we'll need to hit the ground running."
Wheeler announced the following appointments to his team (listed alphabetically):
Jennifer Arguinzoni, Director of Strategic Partnerships: Arguinzoni served at Wheeler’s Finance Director during the campaign, and focused on project management for the transition as Transition Manager. Arguinzoni has more than a decade of state and federal legislative experience in Georgia and Washington DC.
Barbara Buono, Senior Advisor: Buono is an attorney who has two decades of public service as an elected leader at both the municipal and state levels. While serving in the State Senate of New Jersey, Barbara was Senate Majority Leader and Chairperson of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. As a local Councilwoman, Barbara was appointed police commissioner where she instituted the Borough of Metuchen’s first Community Policing program and expanded recruitment efforts to better reflect the diversity of the community.
Kyle Chisek, Director of Bureau Engagement: Chisek has worked in City government since 2006 when he began in former Mayor Tom Potter’s office, after previously working in the private sector. Since that time, Chisek has worked both in capital project management in the Policy, Planning, and Projects group as well as Program Development in the Development, Permitting, and Transit group. Chisek was also the project manager for the City of Portland’s Smart City Challenge grant application to the US Department of Transportation.
Michael Cox, Director of Communications and Constituent Services: will join the transition team as Communications Director. He was previously Wheeler’s Campaign Manager and his Communications Director at Oregon State Treasury. He has more than a decade of experience in campaigns and government in Oregon and California.
Kristin Dennis, Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Operations: Dennis most recently served as Wheeler’s Chief of Staff in Oregon State Treasury, where she previously served as Policy Director. Earlier, she was an aide to Oregon State Senator Richard Devlin. She served on the Lake Oswego City Council from 2007 to 2010 and worked for a plastics recycling company in Portland. Dennis holds a law degree from the University of San Diego Law School.
Alma Flores, Director of Policy: Flores has been a public servant for over 15 years in community and economic development policy, program and project development, most recently as the city of Milwaukie’s Community and Economic Development Director. Flores holds her undergraduate degree from UCLA and her Master’s from MITs Urban Studies program with a focus on housing, community, and economic development. Alma is married and has two kids with her high-school sweetheart.
Nicole A. Grant, Senior Policy Advisor: Grant joins the Wheeler Administration as a Senior Policy Advisor after having served as the Senior Policy Analyst and Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Liaison for the Hales Administration. As Senior Policy Analyst, Nicole has primarily worked on public safety policy issues, particularly those falling under the DOJ settlement agreement. Nicole moved to Portland in May 2015 after practicing law in Baltimore, MD. Nicole is a Maryland native, and a graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School.
Maurice Henderson, Chief of Staff and Director of Strategic Initiatives: Henderson most recently served as the Assistant Director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), was named Chief of Staff and Director of Strategic Initiatives. At PBOT, Henderson was recognized for his excellent leadership within the bureau and for his innovative and effective approach working with city leadership and community leaders on the Smart Cities effort. Before arriving in Portland in 2015, Henderson served in a variety of top roles in the administrations of three mayors of Washington, DC, and was a top press aide to then-Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, currently the Democratic nominee for Vice President.
Nathan Howard, Senior Policy Advisor: Prior to serving as Ted’s Deputy Campaign manager for Mayor, Howard was the Interim Executive Director at The Bus Project, a nonprofit focused on youth empowerment. He’s also served as the Oregon Senate Finance Director and was Chief of Staff to Senator Mark Hass. He is a native Oregonian, born and raised in East Portland, and attended the University of Oregon where he received his BA in City Planning, Public Policy, and Management.
Angel James, Special Assistant to the Mayor and Scheduler: James most recently served as the Transition Scheduler to Mayor-elect Wheeler. Previously, James served as Executive Assistant to the Assistant Director for the Portland Bureau of Transportation. James has more than a decade of experience providing support to high-level officials in Portland.
Berk Nelson, Senior Advisor: Nelson attended the University of California, Davis School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2005. Nelson received his undergraduate degree from the Colorado College where he received his B.A. in Sociology in 2000. He comes to us from Perkins Coie where he did contract work in the commercial litigation department and was previously with Molina Healthcare, Inc. where he served as in-house counsel.
Michelle Plambeck, Deputy Communications Director: Plambeck most recently served as an aide to Multnomah County Commissioner Judy Shiprack, where she advised the Commissioner on issues relating to early learning, food policy, public safety and land use. After studying History at the University of Oregon, Plambeck worked for non-profits and then as a legislative assistant for Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek.
Andrea Valderrama, Senior Policy Advisor: Valderrama most recently served as Portland City Hall’s first Policy and Outreach Advisor dedicated to East Portland and coalition engagement under Commissioner Novick, where she advised on transportation, housing, public safety, budget, worker friendly, and government affairs policy, and developed regional strategies on displacement mitigation in economic development and transportation projects. Valderrama is the first and only person of color serving on the David Douglas School Board, and was recently named one of Portland’s Top 10 Social Change Makers by Prichard Communications. She earned her BA from the University of Oregon and is pursuing an Executive Masters of Public Administration at Portland State University’s Hatfield School of Government.
Mustafa Washington, Constituent Services Manager: Washington has a Master’s of Science in Management and Organizational Leadership from Warner Pacific College, and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Warner Pacific College. Prior to joining Mayor Wheelers staff, he was a staff member for Mayor Hales as the Constituent Service Specialist and later promoted to Executive Assistant. Among his proudest accomplishments: Washington is the first person in his immediate family to complete a Master’s degree program.
Wheeler also announced that he would retain staff leadership in the Office of Youth Violence Prevention with Antoinette Edwards, Director of the Office of Youth Violence Prevention and Tom Peavey, Policy Manager for the Office of Youth Violence Prevention.