New Year, New Faces at the Port of Portland

It’s a New Year, and many of us are ready to slam the door on 2020. It was a year unlike any other for the Port of Portland and our team that operates the Portland International Airport. At the same time, we welcomed some wonderful, creative, collaborative people onto our team at the Port in the last year. They skillfully navigated the challenges of engaging with new colleagues working remotely, or — for some new Port employees — reporting for duty at PDX during a strange, difficult time for air travel.

Get to know some of the new faces that have joined the Port in the last year.

Antoinette Chandler Invests in Our Core Values

Antoinette Chandler, CFO

Antoinette Chandler was originally drawn to Portland thanks to its similarities with San Francisco’s Bay Area where she grew up. Another inviting reason to make a home in the Pacific Northwest? A great job as Chief Financial Officer for the Port of Portland, an organization that’s core values of leadership, inclusion and service meant a chance to work with leaders that uphold those principles.

Describe your job in one sentence. 
To be a servant-leader and a prudent financial steward over the Port of Portland’s financial assets.

What do you love most about working at the Port so far? 
The people. And, that the Port leadership genuinely cares about people. I also love that the Port culture is truly collaborative, inclusive, and engaging. As a newcomer to the transportation sector, I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about the aviation, marine and industrial development businesses, which are distinct and fascinating businesses. Every day presents a new opportunity to think critically, creatively and strategically, all while working in a virtual environment. There is never a dull moment.

What’s a big project or topic you’re focused on in 2021? 
My primary focus is in three key areas, which are 1) sustaining our financial position 2) preserving liquidity and 3) protecting our credit rating and ensuring we have access and best execution in the capital markets. In addition to advancing our Shared Prosperity work, I’ll also be focused on ways to leverage technology to increase our data analytics capabilities to improve financial reporting across the Port.

What’s your favorite local business? 
Cosmic Monkey Comics. My youngest son is a huge comic book enthusiast, and we love hanging out at comic bookstores. When we first visited Portland last June, we researched the comic scene and discovered Cosmic Monkey Comics. Although there are a few good choices in Portland, Cosmic Monkey Comics is, by far, one of our favorites.

What’s one thing about yourself that might surprise your colleagues?
There are a few things about me that might surprise my colleagues. For this one, I’m going to take it all the way back to my high school days. Although most all of my interactions with folks have been virtually, I think my colleagues would be quite surprised to know that I played saxophone in the marching band and was also named homecoming queen my senior year of high school.

Jeremy Toren Directs the Roadway with Confidence and Compassion

Jeremy Toren, Parking Control Representative

Jeremy Toren started as parking control representative amid COVID-19 dramatically changing the face of work, our airport and daily life. From staying upbeat while learning a new job in challenging conditions to staying on beat while playing music, Jeremy’s positive attitude shines through.

Describe your job in one sentence.
As a parking control representative at the Port, my top priority is to make sure our customers have the easiest and most enjoyable time at PDX.

What do you love most about working at PDX so far?
I love meeting and helping all of the different people from throughout the country and abroad. I also appreciate the diverse, friendly and interesting people I get to work with every day.

What’s one of your top priorities for 2021?
My top priority for 2021 is to spend more time with my family and enjoy the positive moments more while we navigate through these unprecedented times.

What’s your favorite local business?
It has to be Kelly’s Brighton Marina near Rockaway Beach. The crabbing, fishing, boat rentals and atmosphere is always fun and welcoming. The staff is amazing and the owners, Kelly and Joan, are super friendly and accommodating.

What’s one thing about yourself that might surprise your colleagues?
People might not expect my love of music. I’ve been a musician since I was nine years old, starting with the drums and playing everything from the guitar to the auto harp throughout my life. I also have a passion for people and find joy in volunteering at the Oregon Food Bank whenever I get a chance.

Lewis Lem Takes Passion for Transportation On the Road

Lewis Lem, Senior Transportation Planner

Lewis Lem’s interest in transportation isn’t limited to office hours. In fact, he’s known to literally take his work on the road (you’ll learn what we mean below!). In his new role as senior transportation planner, you’ll find Lewis working on grant applications to get us more federal funding, planning infrastructure and transportation system improvements, and getting to know his colleagues both at the Port and at our partner organizations.

Describe your job in one sentence.
As senior transportation planner, I am responsible for working on and managing a wide range of transportation planning programs, projects and issues for the Port of Portland.

What do you love most about working at the Port so far?
What is interesting and unpredictable is that there are always new topics and projects that come up in the course of my work for the Port. The Port of Portland is directly involved with a wide range of transportation issues related to passenger, workforce, and freight access to Port facilities. As an organization involved with multimodal transportation – including air travel, rail traffic and road transportation – we have complex and interacting transportation needs in order to maintain good operations and make sound decisions for future investments in improving the transportation system.

What’s a big project or topic you’re focused on in 2021?
The Portland region’s economy depends on efficient movement to and through the marine, rail and aviation gateways. A major project I am working on this year is the effort to complete an important transportation infrastructure project for the Rivergate Industrial Area. The Rivergate Overcrossing Project is constructing a roadway grade separation over a busy marine terminal rail lead to remove a bottleneck in freight movements, and is also constructing associated road/intersection improvements to better accommodate truck turning movements. When completed, the project will contribute to the Port of Portland’s mission is to provide competitive cargo and passenger access to regional, national and international markets while enhancing the region’s quality of life.

What’s your favorite local business?
Some of my favorite local businesses have been the specialty foods providers Elephants Delicatessen and Olympia Provisions. I have especially enjoyed having the soups for lunch at the Flying Elephants location at PDX airport.

What’s one thing about yourself that might surprise your colleagues? This past year, I have enjoyed exploring state parks and public federal lands that I have not traveled to before. I have learned a lot about Oregon’s geography, climate, and history in the course of exploring the beautiful natural scenic areas around the state.

Diverse Experiences Shape Elizabeth Kennedy-Wong’s Approach to Community Engagement

Elizabeth Kennedy-Wong, Community Engagement Manager

With a job title of community engagement manager, Elizabeth Kennedy-Wong’s first priority might normally be getting out and about and, well, engaging with the community. For now, that engagement is happening on Teams, Zoom and GoToMeeting, but she won’t let a little thing like virtual meetings slow her down. Read on to learn how her passion for public service, transportation policy and community advocacy – combined with a holistic approach focused on authenticity and equity – makes her a natural fit for our team.

Describe your job in one sentence.
To identify gaps in information and knowledge that can be augmented by the public. To build bridges and relationships.

What do you love most about working at the Port so far?
The opportunity to think strategically about how community knowledge and experience can support and add to our expertise.

Community engagement is about having an honest conversation with an openness to hear new ideas and information. Sometimes we can respond to what we hear, and sometimes we need to have difficult conversations.

I love watching the process work – helping people and organizations move from skepticism to understanding and respect. I think people often misunderstand the role of community engagement – a good engagement process is about understanding values and how lived experience and culture inform our perspectives. The hallmarks of good processes are ones where participants understand how we got here and they respect the outcome, even if they gave up something along the way.

As I watch current events unfold right now, the ability for governmental agencies to engage and inform community will be an important tool to bridging differences and rebuilding trust.

A network of community members informed a new mural at PDX

What’s a big project or topic you’re focused on in 2021?
Shared prosperity of course! In a recent employee Town Hall, Curtis Robinhold spoke about how the Port was founded in supporting people with existing businesses and wealth. 100 years later, we realize our responsibility to expand the access to wealth to the people and communities whose work and homelands enabled the wealth creation of colonizers. These individuals and communities bore the burdens — physically, environmentally, economically and socially and did not share in the benefits. We have taken the important first step of recognizing that Black, Indigenous and People of Color have a right to share in the benefits of our industry, now we need to work with those communities to understand what shared prosperity looks like for them.

What’s your favorite local business?
Hoda’s Lebanese Restaurant on Belmont. As the Executive Director of a non-profit in a former job, I was always looking for donations. The owners of Hoda’s, Hoda and Hani, were always generous and believed in supporting community. Hani’s nickname is the “Mayor of Belmont” because he is always looking out for the business district. When I worked for Portland’s mayor (Potter), he never hesitated to call me to help with PBOT, Planning, Parks – and I was always happy to direct him to the right person. Years later, as his business has become established and grown, it continues to support the community. 

What’s one thing about yourself that might surprise your colleagues?
I can’t shake the idea of playing “Two Truths and a Lie” with this question:

  1. I am an introvert and terribly socially awkward. I can hold my own in a professional space, speak truth to power and speak up on behalf of the community – but take me to a party? I am a mess. 
  2. I ate my first raw oyster when I was 3 – and I LOVED it! I followed my parents around on the beach begging for more.
  3. I hate driving in Los Angeles – the speed, traffic, and freeways totally stress me out.

Van Anderson Knows How to Motivate and Inspire

Van Anderson, Contracts Administrator

As a new contracts administrator with the Port, Van Anderson works to meet the needs of internal teams and the partners we contract with. The role takes a lot of coordination and relationships. Fortunately, we found someone in Van who knows how to juggle projects. From restoring classic cars to mentoring youth, Van is all about keeping busy and building community.

Describe your job in one sentence. 
I feel like Daniel-son in the movie “The Karate Kid”, and my trainer is Mrs. Miyagi. (Poor Jacquie Canty)

What do you love most about working at the Port so far?
I would have to say the people, because they have been so welcoming and helpful during this fast two-month journey. 

What’s a big project or topic you’re focused on in 2021? 
Well at work I feel that all the projects are the same, regardless of the scope or magnitude of the project. We are positioned to be involved along the entire process of many of the projects that go on at the Port. Our focus is to help everyone as much as we possibly can all the time! At home this year, I will be taking on the task of finding a classic car to restore. Something fun and that requires no time limit.

What’s your favorite local business? 
My favorite local business is a tough one. I love Mom & Pop shops all around the Portland Metro area. I have two favorite places: Tigard Donuts (the donuts speak for themselves and the service is always awesome!). The other is Casa del Pollo. It is a family owned and operated establishment and again the food is amazing and the service is incredible. You will feel like you belong there as part of the family.   

What’s one thing about yourself that might surprise your colleagues?
One thing that I can share that might surprise you is that I mentor young student-athletes. It’s my passion and I believe that it is my calling to give back through my faith in Christ. I mentor and coach over two to three dozen individuals over the course of a year. My goal is to help them obtain careers, extend or continue their education, be good citizens and active in their own communities, but more importantly be role models that younger people can look up to and admire. The one thing that should not surprise my colleagues is I’m most proud of being a family man, father, loving husband, and grandfather.

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