Kristen Dow, the head of Health and Human Services for Portland, talks to staff outside of the Expo as they begin the process of moving asylum seekers from the arena in August. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Portland’s director of health and human services turned in her resignation last week.

Kristen Dow resigned on Oct. 30 after she was offered a new position with an unnamed national firm that does health and human services with states across the country, city spokesperson Jessica Grondin said.

When asked, Grondin said Dow’s resignation was not tied to a proposal this week from two city councilors to suspend rules on public camping in the city.

Dow has worked for the city for 18 years. She started off as a program manager in the public health department and was appointed as director of Health and Human Services by former City Manager Jon Jennings in June of 2019 after several months of serving as the interim director after Dawn Stiles’ resignation. During her tenure, Dow worked closely with the Encampment Crisis Response Team to tackle the city’s homelessness crisis, helped coordinate the city’s response to multiple influxes of asylum seekers and led the department through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Councilor Roberto Rodriguez said he has enjoyed working with Dow over the years. He called her a “strong leader” and “great to collaborate with.” “I wish her the best in her new role,” he said.

In a statement, Dow said she “will be forever grateful for my almost 18 years with the city of Portland.”

“All that we have accomplished together in Health & Human Services over the years is a source of immense personal and professional pride,” she wrote. “Working alongside those in the Health and Human Services department, and all that I have learned from them, is something that I look forward to bringing with me on a national level and I am excited for this next chapter in my career.”

Dow will remain in her role until Dec. 1. The city is already in the early stages of searching for a replacement.

Grondin said the City Council and community partners are aware of Dow’s resignation.

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