The Oregon iSector Board is made up of members from across sectors who have experience initiating and supporting cross-sector partnerships.
Chris served as Executive Director of the Policy Consensus Initiative (PCI) a national, non-profit composed of elected leaders from around the country that helped initiate collaborative systems for addressing challenging issues in state governments. During that time, PCI sponsored the formation of the National Policy Consensus Center at Portland State University as well as the University Network for Collaborative Governance. Chris was the founding Executive Director of the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution. Prior to that, she served as a Program Officer at the Charles F. Kettering Foundation. Chris has also served as a local elected official.
Whitney is a strategist, leader, and collaborator who has worked in education and public policy in Oregon for fifteen years and is the Executive Director of Foundations for a Better Oregon (FBO). She leads FBO’s program, policy, and strategy development; engages with Oregonians statewide to better understand community values and priorities; and forges public, private, and civic partnerships that pursue a more just future for children and families. Whitney previously championed strategic investments in children and schools as a senior policy advisor and Director of State & Regional Alignment for Governor John Kitzhaber, and as Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for the Oregon Education Investment Board.
Gina Firman Nikkel, MS, Ph.D.
Dr. Nikkel is Executive Director of the Association of Oregon Counties and an Associate Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at Oregon Health and Sciences University. She formerly served as the President and CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, The Executive Director of the Association of Oregon Counties Mental Health Programs and has worked extensively in mental health and addictions policy, leadership and management, health care financing, development, and political advocacy. Gina also served as a Tillamook County Commissioner and as Vice-President of the Association of Oregon Counties, working with the National Association of Counties in Water Policy and Human Services.
Dr. Ernesto Fonseca
Ernesto is the Chief Executive Officer of Hacienda, an Oregon Community Development Corporation and Social Enterprise that advances the livability, health, and economic progress of underserved communities in the Pacific Northwest. Ernesto has dedicated the last 16 years of his career to the development of high-quality, affordable housing and social services in Mexico and the United States. Ernesto brings ample experience in community development, housing, and energy access from his time working with the Housing Authority of Maricopa County and the City of Avondale, and Arizona State University. Ernesto holds an MS in Energy Performance and Climate Responsive Architecture, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Design and Planning from Arizona State University.
Jeremy is the Director of Legal Affairs and Public Policy for Oregon Association of Realtors, OR, one of Oregon’s largest trade associations. Previously Jeremy was the Vice President at the Oregon Business Council, where he worked with executives at some of Oregon’s largest companies on public policy issues including education, health care, taxation, poverty reduction, and state budget policies. In that role, Jeremy managed the Oregon Business Plan and the annual Oregon Leadership Summit, a statewide collaborative effort to bring private and public sector leaders together around a common vision and set of policies for strengthening Oregon’s economy. Jeremy has a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School and a bachelor’s degree in Politics and Government from the University of Puget Sound. In 2019, Jeremy was named by the Portland Business Journal as a top “Forty under 40” professional.
Kate has spent two decades in public policy and strategic partnership roles within the public sector. She began her career as campaign and Capitol Hill staff in Washington, DC. Kate served as the Director of Federal Relations at Oregon State University (OSU) for seven years, where she developed and executed OSU’s federal program that included policy and budget and spearheaded OSU’s effort to enhance federal research awards. In 2014, Governor John Kitzhaber appointed Kate to serve as North Central Regional Solutions Coordinator, where she led the Governor’s Regional Solutions Team in North Central Oregon. Kate served as Governor Kate Brown’s Deputy Legislative Director. Kate’s current position is Innovation and Business Resources Director at Business Oregon. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.
In early 2021, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler appointed Bobby Lee to serve as his Chief of Staff. Bobby previously served as Director of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development and Director of Economic Development for Prosper Portland. At the state level, Bobby served two Oregon governors, focusing on regional economic and community development issues.
Megan serves as a Senior Program Officer for Economic Vitality & Housing at the Oregon Community Foundation. Megan’s work experience includes grantmaking and education initiatives in the field of corporate social responsibility. She has worked with high-tech companies to strengthen their community involvement through charitable giving and corporate foundation grants. She has also led numerous initiatives focused on improving K-12 education, from grant-making to program development and management.
Patty is currently serving as the Executive Director for the League of Oregon Cities (LOC). Prior to her appointment, she spent five years as General Counsel for the LOC. Patty previously worked as a City Attorney for the City of Bloomington, IN for twelve years, and she possesses a Juris Doctorate along with certificates in Conflict Management and Effective Facilitation. She has spent over fifteen years working with cities on creating innovative solutions to solve complex problems in a way that still ensures all citizens have a voice in the process.
Brenden serves as the Vice President Community Development Officer for Oregon & SW Washington at Umpqua Bank. He is focused on leveraging financial and skilled volunteer resources, grants, investments and lending to build more resilient and inclusive economies throughout the state of Oregon. Beyond his work with Umpqua Bank, Brenden has worked for more than 20 years in the nonprofit sector in Oregon, Maryland, and internationally. He is passionate about bridging the divide between the nonprofit and the for-profit sectors and does this by leading with empathy and reciprocity to support meaningful action. Brenden is proud to serve the state where he was born and raised.
Greg brings more than 35 years of experience working in state and local government, and extensive expertise in collaborative processes. Greg currently serves as the Director of the Oregon iSector. Prior to that he founded and directed the County Solutions Program at the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) which supports County Commissioners in their convening role. Before coming to AOC he served as the Governor’s Regional Solutions and Intergovernmental Director. He has also served as the Deputy Director of Department of Land Conservation and Development. Greg was the Founding Director of Portland State University’s National Policy Consensus Center as well as Founder and Director of Oregon Solutions and Oregon Consensus. Greg served for seven years as the Community Policy Advisor and Dispute Resolution Advisor for Oregon’s Governor. Greg is a native Oregonian and a graduate of the University of Oregon Honors College.
The Oregon iSector Special Advisors are experts from across sectors who assist the iSector in their mission by offering advisory support and aid.
Avel is an Oregon native, activist, community organizer, and former Oregon politician who in 1996 became the first African American woman to be elected to the Oregon State Senate. She also served three terms in the Oregon House of Representatives, representing parts of north and northeast Portland. Avel’s legislative record includes an array of initiatives that focus on cultural competency in education, mental health, and the administration of justice. She is credited for the Governor’s Task Force on Environmental Justice that is now enshrined in law and a nationally recognized initiative still serving Oregonians. Avel is a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum of Oregon and co-author with Portland State University history professor Patricia Schechter of her memoir, “Remembering the Power of Words, the Life of an Oregon Activist Legislator and Community Leader” published by Oregon State University Press. In 2008, Oregon Health Sciences University opened the Avel Gordly Center for Healing dedicated to culturally specific mental health and psychiatric services. In 2009, Albina Head Start recognized Avel’s championing of funding for their programs state-wide by renaming its administrative headquarters in her honor. Avel and her sister Faye Burch are the co-founders of the Gordly Burch Center for Black Leadership and Civic Engagement. Additionally, Avel is a former Associate Professor of Black Studies at Portland State University, where in 2017 she received an honorary doctorate. Avel has received many impressive awards throughout her career, a few being the Urban League of Portland’s Edwin C. Berry Lifetime Achievement Award and the Legislative Leadership Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Newspaper Publisher’s Association.
Margaret is a former Oregon State Senator who served in the Senate for eight years where she acted as President Pro Tempore, and in the Oregon House of Representatives where she served for fourteen years. She is the first African American woman to be elected to the Oregon State Legislature, retiring as a State Senator in 2009. Margaret has served as President and CEO of the Urban League of Portland, and in 2006 served as President of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women. She has also served as Deputy Director for Human Services Programs at the Oregon Department of Human Services. She holds many awards such as the 2006 Oregon Statesman of the Year Award from the Oregon Business Association, the 2010 Legislator of the Year Award from the Oregon Library Association, the 2010 OSU Alumni Fellows Award, and in 2020 was honored by USA Today and the Statesman Journal as one of ten Oregon “Women of the Century”. Margaret has a long history in supporting economic development in underserved populations and she is highly focused on enhancing community engagement. She serves on the Board of the Oregon Historical Society and continues to volunteer at the Albina DHS and at Portland Community College in their area skills center, now named the Margaret Carter Skill Center.
Margaret Van Vliet
Margaret formed Trillium Advisors in 2019, a consultancy focusing on strategy development, organizational improvement, project management, and cross-sector facilitation. Her specialties are housing and homelessness, as well as wildfire recovery. Trillium Advisors is an Oregon-certified women-owned business. The firm is also named as a qualified professional services provider by the Association of Bay Area Governments/Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Portland area’s Metro Regional Government, and the Multnomah County Joint Office of Homeless Services. Margaret is a long-time public sector affordable housing leader who began her career in banking and commercial real estate finance. In Sonoma County, California, she oversaw the housing authority and redevelopment agency during and after the 2017 North Bay wildfires that destroyed 5,300 homes. She also led the team that created the housing recovery and renewal plan adopted by the County in the wake of the disaster. Previously, Margaret served under two governors as director of Oregon Housing and Community Services, led the City of Portland’s Housing Bureau, and served as Chief Operating Officer for the Housing Authority of Portland (now Home Forward).