My three-year reign as chairman of Oregonians for Food & Shelter came to an end on November 5 at the OFS Annual Meeting. I stepped into the position early when Barry Bushue, the current Chair took the Oregon State FSA executive director position in October 2018. In December 2019, OFS executive director Katie Fast tendered her resignation and took a job as the chief lobbyist for Oregon State University. We were fortunate and able to hire Jenny Dressler, our lobbyist from Public Affairs Council, to be our interim director. The board asked me to serve a second year as we navigated the leadership transition. By April, the pandemic was in full swing and Jenny continued to do an amazing job navigating the bills and keeping us in front of the issues.
As the session was going on, I was responsible for managing the hiring of the new executive director. With the help of Steve Randall, we were able to hold a successful virtual strategic planning meeting and come up with a plan to hire the new director. With the pandemic in full force, and being in the middle of the session, we put interviews off until the session was complete. At that time, my second year was complete so the board asked me to stay on for a third term to see a successful transition in leadership. Katie Murray was hired in December of 2020. From there, Katie and I worked closely together along with the executive team and together we navigated Oregon’s “short” session and made it through with little damage to our pesticide rights. The “short” session put Katie to the test in which she proved herself very well. As I leave the Chair, I truly feel I have left OFS in a better place than when I arrived.
The experience as board chair was challenging yet I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. I have grown in my leadership abilities and learned so much from my other constituents in the logging and agricultural industry. I truly learned the value of a coalition and the strength that is within. The experience has made me a stronger representative for our industry which will benefit the Northwest chapters with who I continue to advocate.