Gov. John Kitzhaber has promoted key aide Kendall Clawson to his deputy chief of staff for community engagement.

"Kendall's been with the governor's office since the beginning of his administration," says Kitzhaber spokeswoman Rachael Wray. "The governor has every confidence she'll build on her role to help ensure the office is well connected with communities around the state."

Clawson, 49, has served as Kitzhaber's executive appointments secretary since 2011, where she has vetted candidates for state boards and commissions. She's a longtime gay-rights advocate: Before joining the governor's office, Clawson spent four years as director of the Q Center, Portland's LGBTQ community organization.

Last summer, Kitzhaber recommended Clawson as the new director for the besieged Oregon Liquor Control Commission. But Clawson withdrew her name from consideration six days later.