B = Builders GR = Grassroots P = Policy F = Financial

G = Green C = Culture E = Establishment R = Rising Star


 

Sarah Mensah
Image: Andy Batt

Sarah Mensah, Trail Blazers

Sarah Mensah

The NBA’s only black female COO keeps the Blazers a home team.

F R

Signature move: This 47-year-old Portland native runs the Trail Blazers’ day-to-day operations. Since 2007, Mensah helped sell out every Rose Garden game; sponsorship revenue has doubled during her tenure. She also played a key role in expunging the “Jail Blazers” era in favor of the community-focused “Rise With Us” brand revival. “Harry Glickman [the franchise founder] told me that the Blazers need to equal community involvement,” she says. Mensah sits on boards for the NW Autism Foundation and All Hands Raised.
What’s next: While Blazers president Larry Miller seems like he’ll be around awhile—he appears to get along with mercurial owner Paul Allen—industry insiders predict that Mensah, the league’s highest-ranking female staffer, will become president of some NBA team in the next 10 to 15 years. (KC)
 

Tom Chamberlain

Labor’s local chieftain puts a blue collar on the circle of power.

P E

Signature move: Chamberlain’s leadership of the state AFL-CIO makes him, in one Portland official’s words, the “godfather” of politically potent labor. The mustachioed retired firefighter isn’t above some lefty flame-throwing (check out his speech to Occupy Portland on YouTube) but knows practical politics. “We make sure everyone’s on the same page,” he says. “When I staff a campaign phone bank, I fill it with nurses, steelworkers, and public employees.”
What’s next: The three leading Portland mayoral candidates staged a debate to court union backing last fall. So far, labor hasn’t picked a favorite. Meanwhile, Chamberlain stresses other priorities: “Between West Hayden Island—the last place for a deepwater port in Portland—and Columbia River Crossing,” he says, “our economic future is at stake.” (ZD)

Steve Bass

Oregon Public Broadcasting’s boss leads the last great newsroom.

P C E

Signature move: When Bass moved from Nashville six years ago, he viewed OPB as gravy atop its audience’s news diet. Then recession and digital battering sent traditional print and broadcast powerhouses into full retreat. “I take no joy in what’s happened to journalism,” Bass says, “but our total number of donors increased during the recession.”
What’s next: With a 1.5-million-strong following, three new bureaus, and eight new reporting hires—contrasting with shrinking staffs at the Oregonian and elsewhere—Bass plans to cross-pollinate radio, TV, web, and mobile devices. Meanwhile, he’ll fight for endangered federal funding: “Losing it would cause havoc with our ability to serve the state.” (ZD)

Ralph DiNola

Green Building Services’ principal makes sustainablity a hot export.

F G

Signature move: DiNola’s initial gig with GBS was the Pearl District’s Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center, the first LEED Gold historic restoration job in the nation. His firm’s fingerprints can now be found on more than 100 LEED projects around town, including Mercy Corps’ Platinum-rated Global Headquarters in Old Town.  
What’s next: In March, DiNola and crew began work on a $5.5 billion development in Qatar’s capital, Doha. Will global expansion bring more of the other green back to Portland? (BB)

Bill Wyatt

The Port’s leader commands a broader gateway to the world.

B P F E

Signature move: In 10 years at the helm, the Port of Portland’s exec has overseen a $1 billion building binge. Many projects, like rail expansion at the huge Rivergate industrial zone, serve Wyatt’s core strategy: exports, especially to Asia. “China has 700 million people to bring out of poverty,” Wyatt says. “They need more from us.” That means high tech, and—less glamorously but as vital—wheat, soybeans, and potash.
What’s next: The 61-year-old über-insider, once chief of staff to Governor Kitzhaber and head of the state’s largest industry alliance, will need his political mojo to push new port facilities on wild West Hayden Island—800 currently woodsy acres coveted by both business and environmentalists. (ZD)

 

Andrew Proctor
Image: Andy Batt

Andrew Proctor, Literary Arts

Andrew Proctor

This Canadian gave bookish Literary Arts a jolt into the future.

C R

Signature move: Three years ago, Proctor moved from New York, where he’d worked for PEN’s American Center, to find tight budgets, an aging audience and patrons, and a library-quiet identity. Now, he’s landed Lit Arts in a sleek new downtown space, elegantly cobbled from pro bono architecture and salvaged hardwood.
What’s next: The down-to-earth 39-year-old craves a more vigorous role. A hardwired connection to OPB and new initiatives like a high school poetry jam fest will make the new HQ an all-ages nerve center for a wordy city. “We can support literary culture in all sorts of ways,” he says. (ZD)