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Michael Montoya named as interim head of Portland’s civic life bureau

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty announced Thursday she has picked a new interim head of the Office of Community & Civic Life.

Michael Montoya, who has served as the bureau’s strategy, innovation & performance manager for just under two years, will serve as interim director of the bureau. He replaces former director Suk Rhee who resigned last week following a scathing outside report on dysfunction within the workplace.

In a statement released Thursday, Montoya said he accepted the new position “with somber enthusiasm.”

“There is so much good but hard work to do. I know this will not be easy, but we hope that our upcoming actions will model our dedication to the community in the coming weeks and months ahead,” said Montoya. “I have confidence in the people within our bureau to demonstrate the human capacity to heal and grow.”

Hardesty said in the statement she will not begin the recruitment process for a permanent bureau head until “an overall strategic planning and change process” was further underway.

The city had hired an outside consulting firm to report on the bureau and make recommendations on how to improve the workplace culture. The assessment, which the city was ordered to release last week by the Multnomah County district attorney, described a bureau with a deeply toxic workplace and suggested a dramatic reorganization of the bureau, as well as changes to management.

“The Office of Community and Civic Life will require what I believe will be a year of change, transformation and healing” said Hardesty in a statement. “I believe Michael Montoya is the leader for the moment to help us navigate this difficult time – but that ultimately we will come out of this work a stronger, more resilient and more responsive bureau.”

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Rebecca Ellis