​DHS Director's Message
Message from DHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht​ and Deputy Director Liesl Wendt,
June 1, 2020

Every day our African-American communities face racism, institutional discrimination, bias and harm. Some of us will never be able to understand the deep pain they endure. We want to acknowledge this moment for them and our entire community.


The death of George Floyd was tragic. The resulting protests that have erupted across the country this weekend - including in our own state - in response to the grief felt by many, have impacted all of us in different ways.


As you come back to work this morning, please be gentle with yourselves and each other. If you need time to process or time to step away from your work – we encourage you to speak up to your managers or reach out to our Employee Assistance Program. If you would like to connect and inspire change, we encourage you to reach out to Employee Resource Groups like B.E.S.T and others supporting the furthering of our equity work. We also have our African American Management Council and the Office of Equity and Multicultural Services for additional resources. 


Our team members are connected to the pain and harm and every day they find a way forward. We want to honor that resiliency and want to see a day when our team members no longer must be resilient due to racism, institutional discrimination and bias.   


As we reflect on the events of the past week, it’s clear that as leaders of this organization we cannot engage “at an arms-length” to quote Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. This is a moment where bold justice is needed and where each of us is called to build relationships with our community – our staff and the people we serve. 


To do this we can:

  • Listen to one another’s experiences.
  • Build hope by hearing from those most impacted  and incorporating their advised steps toward meaningful change.  
  • Authentically approach equity and inclusion within the Department and in how we serve.  
  • Practice and model the fourth element of RiSEEquitable Treatment and Belonging. Practice the other five elements through the lens of equity and inclusion.
  • Work together to create an organization where all staff and community experience equitable treatment and where we acknowledge the disparities that exist in our organization, state and nation.




We are still learning together how to stand with our impacted communities to offer support during this difficult time. You are a resilient team and we will need each of you stepping up and offering support, building your own understanding and welcoming diverse opinions and experiences.  We are in this work together, more than ever.



Please be safe and well.​