Urban League of Portland Chief Executive Officer Vanessa R. Gaston is leaving Portland for a new job in Nevada.
Gaston has accepted the position of assistant director of social services for Clark County, Nevada, said Charles Wilhoite, Chair of the Urban League of Portland Board of Directors. Gaston begins her new duties in Las Vegas in July.
"Vanessa has been a tremendous leader for the Urban League, and she will be sorely missed," Wilhoite said. "We recognize, however, that leaders of Vanessa's caliber are few in number and are nationally sought after. The league is fortunate to have benefited from her presidency over the past three years. We wish her only the best in her new position."
The league is initiating a search for Gaston's replacement and expects to have a new CEO in place within three to six months, he added.
In the meantime, the board has appointed Marcus Mundy, a board member, private consultant and former vice president and regional compliance officer at Kaiser Permanente Northwest, to serve as interim director during the search process. Mundy is principal of Mundy Consulting, a local health care compliance consulting firm.
Mundy said he would "humbly" accept the appointment because he respected the Urban League's work. Gaston's leadership generated a "considerable momentum" that resulted in a strong staff and an energetic and involved board, Mundy added.
Gaston has served as the league's president and chief executive officer since March 2003. She previously served as associate superintendent at Washington Soldiers Home & Colony in Orting, Wash.
As president of the Urban League, Gaston focused the league's activities within a seven-year strategic plan that established and tracked performance outcomes for programs; hired a professional staff to deliver quality services to the community; and served as an advocate on educational issues for youth, with particular attention to eliminating the academic achievement gap.
Wilhoite also credits her with restoring financial health to the league. "Her strong focus on reducing expenditures and controlling costs has resulted in increased confidence from the league's financial supporters and has driven a period of growth in areas of membership, sponsorships and general fund-raising," Wilhoite said.
Gaston said she was honored to have had the opportunity to work for the Urban League, which she called an "important organization."