Meyer Memorial Trust has hired a dean from The New School in New York City as its next CEO.
Michelle J. DePass will take over as president and CEO from Doug Stamm, who has led MMT since 2002. Stamm announced last spring that he planned to leave MMT but agreed to stay on until his successor was appointed.
DePass is currently the dean of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy and Tishman Professor of Environmental Policy and Management at The New School, which runs seven different design and art-focused colleges in New York. DePass was previously the assistant administrator for International and Tribal Affairs at the Environmental Protection Agency, a post she was appointed to by President Barack Obama. She also served as a program office at the Ford Foundation.
The Meyer Memorial Trust is Oregon's second-largest foundation, managing an endowment of $800 million.
Under Stamm's leadership. MMT shifted its focus, redesigning its programs to focus on housing, education, the environment and Oregon's diverse communities. It also put equity at the center of its grants program and internal decision-making. That included an internal restructuring to ensure that MMT's staff was representative of the communities it served.
"We've worked hard to transition from a dominant culture environment to a truly multicultural organization," Stamm told the Business Journal in a 2016 interview. "Numbers are important, but it's really about whether people are free to voice their opinions. It's about inclusion."
Continuing that vision was a factor as the MMT search committee pursued Stamm's replacement.
"Michelle was an early leader in the environmental justice movement, and throughout her career she’s been an influential voice for equity and social justice in the governmental, academic, philanthropic and nonprofit arenas." MMT board chair Charles Wilhoite wrote in a blog announcing DePass as CEO. "For nearly two decades, Michelle has sought out and excelled in roles where she can make a difference and shift the power dynamic to improve life for people of color, women, indigenous peoples and low-income communities."
"Disrupting the forces that drive inequality in this country is vitally important work," added Ford Foundation president Darren Walker in a statement. "Meyer Memorial Trust is an important player in this movement, pursuing a more flourishing and equitable Oregon. Michelle is the right person to serve as Meyer's new CEO — she has the vision, experience and courage to stand up for justice in Oregon."
DePass will begin her new job on April 30. Stamm will stay on for up to six months as an adviser.
Her family's arrival will be a homecoming for her husband, Joshua Paulson, a civil rights attorney who is originally from Corvallis.
Portland Business Journal is a KGW partner.