New Office Structure Aims to Strengthen Partnerships Between Governor Kotek and Agency Leaders, Improve Customer Service Across State Government
Salem, OR—Today Governor Tina Kotek announced key hires who will stand up a new Office of Public Administration within the Governor’s Office.
The new office structure aims to strengthen partnerships between Governor Kotek and agency leaders, and increase accountability for improving customer service across state government.
Chris Warner will lead this portfolio as the new Deputy Chief of Staff of Public Administration. With more than 20 years of public policy and political experience, Warner joins the Governor’s Office having most recently served as the Director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. In that role, he led a diverse 1,000 employee bureau and managed an annual $500 million budget. Prior to that, he served in various leadership roles in Governor Ted Kulongoski’s administration, including as the Legislative Director and as a Senior Transportation Advisor. Warner was also a top aide to Senator Ron Wyden. As the Deputy Chief of Staff of Public Administration, Warner will coordinate activities and oversee the new office’s efforts to better align the Governor’s office management and oversight of agencies and the policies they manage.
Joining as the new Economic Development and Workforce Advisor is Vince Porter. Porter brings government relations and leadership experience to the Governor’s Office, having most recently served as the Director of Regence Health Policy Center, where he led advocacy initiatives focused on finding solutions to affordable and accessible healthcare. Porter also served as Vice President of Public Affairs for Strategies 360, and as an Economic Development Policy Advisor for Governor John Kitzhaber and Governor Kate Brown.
Kelly Scannell Brooks joins the Governor’s Office as the new Transportation and Infrastructure Advisor. Scannell Brooks brings more than 20 years of experience in transportation and government relations, most recently serving as the Assistant City Manager for the City of Milwaukie, where she led the overall development and delivery of the city’s capital improvement plan and implementation of the city’s Safe Access for Everyone program. Prior to that, she worked for the Oregon Department of Transportation as a Policy and Development Manager for the Region 1 Policy and Development Unit, the United States House of Representatives and in various government relations roles.
Geoff Huntington will serve as the Governor’s new Senior Natural Resources Advisor, overseeing a team that includes staff focused on climate and the broader range of environmental topics. Huntington brings more than 30 years of experience to the role, with a diverse background in natural resources issues that have faced the state. He most recently served as the Elliott State Forest Project Manager for the Oregon Department of State Lands. Prior to that, Huntington served as Chief of Staff and Director of Strategic Initiatives in the Office of the Dean at the Oregon State University College of Forestry, Executive Director of the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, and Deputy Director of the Oregon Water Resources Department. In all positions he spearheaded programs to better integrate environmental, social and economic issues to advance outcomes of strategic importance to Oregon.
Working with Huntington will be Karin Power, who comes on as the Governor’s Natural Resources and Climate Advisor. In this role, Power will provide assistance on broader natural resource issues, in addition to focused efforts on climate. Power brings more than a decade of nonprofit and in-house counsel experience, as well as eight years of elected leadership experience having most recently served Oregon’s House District 41 as a State Legislator. In that role, Power co-chaired the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction, and served as the Chair of the House Energy and Environment House among other duties. Power has also served as interim Executive Director for Business for a Better Portland and Associate General Counsel at The Freshwater Trust.
Doug Grafe will serve as the Wildfire and Emergency Response Advisor, leading the Governor’s emergency response efforts, wildfire initiatives, and ensuring the state's resilience to disasters. As established in law, this position will officially execute the responsibilities of the Wildfire Programs Director and the State’s Resilience Officer. Grafe has served as the Wildfire Programs Director for the Governor’s Office — a position created through Senate Bill 762 — where he was the principal advisor to the Governor on wildfire initiatives, as well as coordinating SB 762 activities with state agencies and other entities. Prior to that, Grafe spent 17 years with the Oregon Department of Forestry in a variety of positions, including as the Chief of Fire Protection. Grafe has an outstanding track record of managing the state through a challenging decade of emergency response to wildfires and his expertise is now welcomed more broadly as the state continues to build its resilience to all disasters.
Rachel Currans-Henry joins the Governor’s Office as the new Health and Human Services Advisor. Currans-Henry most recently served as the Strategic Initiatives Administrator with the Oregon Department of Human Services Office for Aging and People with Disabilities, where she led initiatives to improve health and social services delivery. Prior to that role, she was a leader of the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Human Services’s COVID Response and Recovery Unit — a division that addressed and mitigated the impacts of the pandemic on Oregonians, as well as coordinated with several entities on COVID-19 response efforts. Currans-Henry has also held various roles at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services as advisor to the Secretary and senior administrator of the Wisconsin Medicaid Program.
Maya Crawford Peacock joins as the new Executive Appointments Director. Crawford Peacock draws on more than 20 years of experience in the legal field, most recently serving as the Executive Director of The Lawyers’ Campaign for Equal Justice, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to increasing access to justice for all. Prior to that, she was a supervising attorney for Legal Aid Services of Oregon and the Public Interest Law Coordinator at Lewis & Clark Law School.
Constantin Severe brings more than 15 years of criminal justice experience to the role of Public Safety Advisor. In this role, Severe will be focused on criminal justice and public safety issues. In addition to serving as Governor Brown’s Public Safety Advisor, where he served on the Governor’s executive team and worked with Oregon’s public safety agencies, city and county governments. Severe was previously a criminal defense attorney at Metropolitan Public Defender and served as the director of the City of Portland’s Independent Police Review.
Amelia Porterfield joins the administration as the new Regional Solutions Director. With over 20 years experience in public service and advocacy on a wide range of issues, Porterfield most recently served as the Director of Government Relations at The Nature Conservancy in Oregon, where she oversaw the organization’s state and federal policy team and led its legislative strategy to enact policies and investments that address some of the most challenging issues facing people and the natural world. Porterfield has previously served Governor Kotek in various roles, including as Chief of Staff when she was House Speaker and House Democratic Leader.
As previously announced, Melissa Goff will join the administration as the Governor’s Education Advisor, and additional hires within the Office of Public Administration are forthcoming.
“The new Office of Public Administration will improve our ability to deliver results on my focused agenda while also building toward operational excellence across state government,” said Governor Kotek. “This is a talented group of experienced leaders, and I knowthey will work hard to make sure our state government is delivering the results Oregonians need and deserve.”
In addition to these key hires for the Office of Public Administration, Governor Kotek announced that the following individuals will continue their work in her administration:
• Annie McColaugh as Federal Affairs Director.
• Courtney Crowell as the Regional Solutions Coordinator.
• Adrian Wulff as the Department of Corrections Ombudsman.