Board of Commissioners

Our Commissioners volunteer their time to establish Home Forward policy, approve our annual budget, and hire our Executive Director.

Four Commissioners represent the City of Portland, two represent the City of Gresham, and two represent Multnomah County. A ninth member — who participates in one of Home Forward’s housing programs — represents our residents and program participants. Commissioners are recommended from the area they serve, appointed by the Mayor of Portland, and approved by the Portland City Council. They serve on our Board for four year terms that are  renewable.

 photo of Jim SmithJim Smith, Chair

“My service on the Home Forward board is focused on my commitment to ensure decent, safe and affordable housing for our clients and secure the involvement of the business community in the process of getting them to the next step -- economic independence.”

Smith has a strong background in business management, building businesses, and fostering entrepreneurship. He held executive positions in the high tech industry over several decades, starting with IBM, and now is the CEO of YCHANGE International, a management consulting firm for small and medium-sized companies. He is an advisor with the Mt. Hood Small Business Development Center.  Previously, he was a member of the City of Portland’s Small Business Advisory Council and served as chair of the Portland chapter of SCORE, an all-volunteer organization that provides counseling to small businesses.

photo of Mary Ann HermanMary Ann Herman, Vice Chair and Treasurer

“I am committed to helping people who have less, whether it’s shaping strategies that help them stay in their homes as they age or lending my expertise to a real estate development that will provide affordable homes.”

Mary Ann “Miki” Herman has extensive executive experience in real estate development and management, finance, strategic planning, and procurement.  She was a member of the senior management team that catapulted Starbucks to national market leadership and went on to executive roles at The Discovery Channel Store, Nau, Inc., and Sears.  She is a Foundation Board Trustee and chair of the volunteer board of the Albertina Kerr Centers, where she has led the development of a new and transformative business strategy for the 34-year shops and restaurants and entrepreneurs to help them become successful.

 photo of David WidmarkDavid Widmark, Chair Emeritus

“Serving on the Home Forward board provides an opportunity to raise the bar on housing conditions throughout Multnomah County. When housing improves, the overall quality of life in the community improves too.”

Widmark brings deep experience in the public sector to the board.  As chair, he was the first person from East County to serve in the role.  He is a Gresham City Councilor who has served four previous times on the Gresham council since 1996, including two years as Council president. His volunteer public service involves numerous committee and task force assignments, including the Gresham Planning Commission, which he chaired for five of his seven years he served. He retired from a 36-year career with the U.S. Forest Service, where he most recently was a Public Affairs Officer for the agency in the Pacific Northwest and Washington, DC.

photo of Jennifer AndersonJennifer Anderson, Commissioner

“Serving on the board gives me an opportunity to find ways to help the community as I continue my education in public policy creation and implementation.”

Jennifer fills the resident seat on the commission.  She has a strong interest in public policy, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from Portland State University, where she now is working toward a master’s in public policy.  She is the associate editor of PSU’s Hatfield Graduate Journal of Public Affairs and interned with Representative Carla Piluso during the 2015 Oregon legislative session.  She volunteers with the Providence Child Center and also has volunteer experience as a political science research assistant at PSU. 

photo of Tiffiny HagerMatthew Gebhart, Commissioner

"I strongly believe that safe, stable, and affordable housing is vital for health and well-being. I am excited to help Home Forward sustain their current portfolio while continuing to develop new housing for people experiencing poverty across our community."

Gebhart is an Assistant Professor at Portland State University; he has spent the last fifteen years studying housing authorities and recently worked with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on the Choice Neighborhood Initiative.  Matthew holds one of the City of Portland's seats on the Home Forward board.  He received his master's of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and earned a master's and a doctoral degree in Philosophy in Urban Planning from Columbia University.

 photo of Damien HallDamien Hall, Commissioner

“Quality, stable housing is the foundation that allows people to break the cycle of generational poverty.  I’m excited to help guide our community’s largest provider of affordable housing in its work to provide people with that opportunity.”

Hall brings legal expertise in land use, urban planning, and real estate development, as well as extensive civic involvement to the board of commissioners.  He is an attorney at Ball Janik LLP, where he has helped both property owners and governments navigate land use requirements and work collaboratively to establish common objectives.  He is a member of the Portland Development Commission’s Central City Budget Advisory Committee and serves on the board of non-profit Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc.  Previously, he chaired PDC’s urban renewal advisory committee for the Oregon Convention Center area and participated in the development agency’s advisory committee for economic development in N/NE Portland.  He received his law degree from Lewis and Clark College and has a bachelor’s in public policy, planning and management from the University of Southern California.

 photo of Brian LesslerBrian Lessler, Commissioner

"Housing that is affordable is a tremendous stabilizing force for families in need, particularly for children and their ability to move forward in life."

Lessler holds one of the two Gresham seats on the board and brings more than 35 years in real estate development and construction management. He is president of PDG Construction Services, a general contractor with extensive community development experience. PDG has grown from its start developing the Persimmon Country Club Community to building green-certified homes across the metro area and providing a full array of construction services for commercial and industrial projects. Lessler's strong commitment to civic involvement includes serving as president of the East Metro Economic Alliance and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

Charlene Mashia photoCharlene Mashia, Commissioner

“As someone who benefited from living in public housing as a child, I know firsthand how Home Forward’s programs can help people move ahead in their lives.  Serving on the board is an opportunity to give back to the organization and community that provided so much for me.”

Charlene Mashia has a diverse financial background in the areas of accounting, tax, audit, budgeting, business technology and entrepreneurship.  She is the principal of Charlene Mashia CPA, a tax and accounting firm.  Her 20 years of experience with Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and non-profits includes working for NIKE, Pacificorp, and Coopers & Lybrand (now Pricewaterhouse Coopers).  Mashia holds a bachelor’s in accounting from the University of Portland and a master’s in taxation from Portland State University.  Growing up, she lived in Home Forward public housing communities Columbia Villa, now New Columbia, and Hillsdale Terrace, now Stephens Creek Crossing.

Photo_Wendy_SerranoWendy Serrano, Commissioner

“Home Forward provides far more than just housing. This agency uses housing as a platform of opportunity to help people reach greater goals and economic independence; therefore strengthening the fabric of our community. I know firsthand the importance of stable housing in order to break the cycle of poverty. I’m excited for the opportunity to serve this organization and to provide inclusive opportunities for the people we serve.”

Wendy Serrano has helped Oregonians advocate for health, education, and employment for many years. She serves on the Oregon Latino Agenda for Action board, and is passionate about civil rights, economic empowerment, and education. Raised in Guadalajara, Wendy is bicultural and bilingual. Wendy manages the business portfolio and outreach for Congressman Blumenauer’s office as well as local Latino issues that include immigration, international relations, and human rights. She earned her bachelor’s in science from Portland State University and is working towards her masters at George Fox University.