Leadership in Portland

Kristy, Neil and Tom. Two in the arts, one in politics. Three people with great leadership skills in Portland who made things happen and inspired people to think beyond the familiar. They were comfortable in their own skin - self confident, highly intelligent, resolute, sometimes even brazen. They knew what they were good at, and, they were honest with themselves about what they were not good at, or didn't know. All three were not threatened by hiring highly talented people who might be better than them at some things. Maybe even smarter than them. These three knew that to be a great leader, you had to have a great support team of advisors and implementers. The best people you could get your hands on. All three were gregarious, outgoing, people-loving people who were just fun to talk to and be around. They connected people and helped many outside of their organizations succeed and do better work.


Although only one was a politician, all were politically savvy. Political success is about making the deal, making things happen, engaging people, building consensus, exciting people to the possibilities. Serving the larger good. They were all political maestros.


Although only two were in the creative world, all were great creative problem solvers. They could think of solutions that were unique, intelligent, and benefited many various groups of people at the same time. They were all known for out of the box thinking, uninhibited by preconceived notions.

Portland still has a good reputation now, although part of our reputation breathes on the fumes of past successes. Today, on numerous occasions, we have slipped into 'just good enough', missed opportunities, false starts. Compromised solutions that end up losing much of the intent and sparkle of the original idea. It's because of leadership issues.


Kristy, Neil and Tom were able to break through and rise above the predictable logjams and bickering and make things wonderful happen for Portland. They had great abilities to build consensus among disparate groups with varying agendas and perspectives. And because of these talents, these three were able to realize great projects that Portland deserves. Projects that Portland is well capable of doing if enough people get on the same track and work to a common goal. Edmunds, Goldschmidt and Manley. Big thinkers with big ideas; with the requisite political and personal skills to achieve their goals. Portland needs more people with your leadership skills. Now, more than ever.


by Stuart Emmons

The Oregonian Blog, May 13, 2008