B = Builders GR = Grassroots P = Policy F = Financial
G = Green C = Culture E = Establishment R = Rising Star
OHSU’s president looks to thrive in health care’s stormy future.
B F E
Signature move: Back in 2007, Oregon Health & Science University—the city’s largest employer and a research institution of national importance—put together a new strategic plan. “We somehow called it right,” says Robertson, the opthalmologist who became OHSU’s president the year before. “When the economy fell apart, we didn’t.” The hospital/school now employs nearly 13,000 and, through an alliance with Portland State University—another key force in reshaping the city—plays a vital educational and urban-development role.
What’s next: Big philanthropic scores mean major new initiatives in dentristy and nutrition. (ZD)
A farmer puts equity on food-crazed Portland’s table.
GR G R
Signature move: Nonprofit Zenger Farm, at SE 117the Avenue and Foster Road, connects Portland’s food-conscious culture to the economically hard-hit outer east side. “That’s where we’re starting to shine,” says Jill Kuehler, Zenger’s 33-year-old executive director and one of the acknowledged stars of Portland’s urban-ag movement. “There’s so much need right here.” Zenger provides on-site education to as many as 5,000 kids a year, helped start a Lents farmers market that makes half of its sales from food stamps, WIC, and senior coupons, and teaches cooking skills at outer-Southeast schools and affordable housing complexes.
What’s next: Zenger started the area’s first community-supported agriculture program that accepts food stamps, and Kuehler hopes to scale it up to serve as a model for other farms. Also on the menu: a commercial kitchen to aid small food-biz start-ups. (ZD)
Jon Kellogg and Thad Fisco
Microdevelopment shapes some Portland’s hippest streets.
Signature move: Kellogg leased out the Brewery Blocks’ in the 1990s, acquiring retail-curatorial skills that pair well with Fisco’s high-end East Coast construction background. The partners’ biggest splash so far came from two food-drink-bicycle-centered blocks of N Williams Avenue (the Hub, Pix, Fifth Quadrant, etc.). The duo’s reinvention of old streetscapes harnesses PDX’s entrepreneurial spirit and love of the past. “We’re not a ground-up development firm,” says Fisco. “We strip away layers of junk and take a building back to its core.”
What’s next: The duo’s next project, open to tenants this summer in SE Morrison Street’s former Spike Upholstery building, will be a hive of PR, software, design, music, and film companies, further anchoring the Central Eastside as the city’s creative beehive. (KC)
Oregon’s prisons chief takes over the state’s charitable mother ship.
Signature move: Eight years running the state’s corrections department left Max Williams accustomed to a certain reception. “People are very polite,” he says, “but the prisons guy is always the prisons guy.” Handshakes will warm up come February, when the 48-year-old takes over as president of Oregon Community Foundation, the state’s billion-dollar center of philanthropic gravity.
What’s next: Intensifying focuses on kids, families, education, and economic development. Then, getting the whole nonprofit community ready for a different future, when the state’s population is aging and many of its rising leaders are Latino. “The power to get people together makes OCF as influential as any amount of money does,” he says. (ZD)
“In an era of scarce resources, how you leverage what you do have is the crucial question.”
—Joe Robertson, OHSU
The urban ecologist deploys “endless pressure, endlessly applied.”
B GR P G
Signature move: This 64-year-old of iron will and wily strategy has touched just about every green spot in the city, dating to installing guerrilla “WILDLIFE REFUGE” signs in his early-’80s campaign to form Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. After creating a job at Audubon Society’s Oregon chapter called “urban naturalist,” he founded, runs, and is his own nonprofit, the Urban Greenspaces Institute.
What’s next: Houck says his next few years are all about the Intertwine: an effort to weave the region’s current and future green spaces—and the programs and money to protect them—into a single seamless web crossing all city, county, and state boundaries. “It’s about institutionalizing all we’ve accomplished,” Houck says. “It’s all coalescing in a fabulous way, if we can keep up the momentum.” (ZD)
Wieden & Kennedy’s global nomad connects Portland to the world.
Signature move: A former creative director for Bloomingdale’s, this son of Chinese immigrants now roams the global branch offices of the Pearl District–based ad agency. In his ambassador role, Jay spurs W&K projects that don’t look like advertising—a culture magazine run out of the agency’s India office, a record label in Tokyo—while making sure vital ideas and people make it back to the Portland base camp. Why? “Whenever someone sees something and says, ‘That’s cool,’ they make that judgment in the context of a culture and a moment,” he says. “So we’re invested in understanding culture.”
What’s next: “Portland’s global influence isn’t orchestrated—it’s totally organic, and that’s what gives it power,” Jay says. This year, along with partners including the Ace Hotel’s Alex Calderwood, he hopes to distill that energy at a new, low-budget-but-super-cool youth hostel at Chinatown’s gates—one of the many extracurricular projects Jay uses to express a bracing confidence in his home base as a creative hub. Jay talks about his global view on local culture at Portland Monthly’s Bright Lights discussion on Jan 9. (ZD)