Superintendent: Multnomah Education Service District, Portland Oregon


Notice of Open Administrative Position

Position: Superintendent

District: Multnomah Education Service District

Location: Portland, Oregon

Filing Deadline: February 15, 2016, however the district retains the option of accepting applications until the position is filled.


About The ESD and the position:

The Multnomah ESD is Oregon’s second largest, serving all of the school districts in Multnomah County.  The ESD has had a long-standing reputation for exemplary service and offers a wide array of unique programs.

The combined student population of the districts is nearly 108,000.  The districts served by the ESD include Centennial, Corbett, David Douglas, Gresham-Barlow, Parkrose, Portland, Reynolds, Riverdale.  The eight districts include a total of 168 schools with Portland being the largest with over 50,000 students and 92 schools.

As an important part of the educational fabric of Multnomah County, the ESD provides both direct services to students who are vulnerable and at-risk while also providing technical and consultant services on a wide variety of fronts.

The annual budget of the ESD is around $60,000,000.  The ESD is guided by a seven-member board.  

MESD is part of a cooperative effort called the Cascade Alliance which includes the Columbia River, Northwest Regional, and Willamette ESDs.  To date, the primary focus has been on technology although there is strong interest in expanding the alliance so that it focuses on other education services.  The Multnomah ESD is viewed as a catalyst for change and it provides services in literally every county in Oregon.  
The Board is interested in a range of candidates from throughout the country including both seasoned leaders as well as individuals poised to make their next career move.

Jim Rose is currently serving as the interim superintendent of the ESD and is not a candidate for the permanent position.

About the Staff:

Approximately 425 staff members are employed by the ESD.  Due to the nature of the work provided by an education service district, the staff is composed of a wide array of highly-trained, deeply committed, and uniquely-skilled individuals who address the needs of many children with special needs.

When asked why they came to the ESD and remain on the staff, staff members said they were attracted by interesting, meaningful work that continues to provide them with an opportunity to make a difference.  In looking at a new leader, they are hopeful the ESD will find someone willing to look at new methods and the best way to meet the needs of children.


There are several major challenges facing the new superintendent.

The first is the need for someone to be highly-visible with staff—someone who is comfortable visiting with staff where they work and learning what they do while also being humble in their interaction with others.  Due to the challenges of the work done by the ESD, staff need to feel supported and appreciated.

As one board member emphasized, the ideal candidate will develop a strong relationship with employees, support a collaborative bargaining structure, and create an environment in which employees find success in their relationship with the MESD.  

This visibility also needs to extend to the board and the districts served by the ESD.  District leaders are anxious for the ESD to find a superintendent who will be a regular visitor in districts and invest the necessary time to get to know each district.  In addition, the candidate should possess a record of being highly-collaborative in dealings with both local districts as well as partner entities.  

The second major challenge is finding someone with the ability to open doors and make the necessary contacts to position the ESD for the future.  This includes the capacity to create a vision for the future of the ESD and the skills to impart the vision and mission in a meaningful way to the 425 ambassadors of the organization who carry out the work on a daily basis.  Both the ESD Board and the component district superintendents are anxious to find an individual who can work collaboratively in a broad arena to define what the ESD will look like five and ten years into the future.  And, while the new superintendent will be expected to oversee the basic operations of the MESD, all parties involved in the search process emphasize their interest in a visionary leader rather than a steward.  

Due to the presence of a significant minority population in the ESD, the board will give strong consideration to candidates with a keen understanding of equity issues.  

The board is anxious to find an individual capable of articulating his/her thoughts on the differentiation between the role and responsibilities of the board and those of the superintendent in such a way that both parties contribute effectively to the well-being of the organization.   

The next superintendent of the ESD needs to be a strategic thinker who can promote programs and services in a dynamic way and, hopefully, has entrepreneurial experience.  

As part of this work, the ESD needs an individual with the passion and skills to rebuild the reputation of the ESD as a strong force for education in Multnomah County—both now and in the future—someone who will be involved in, and supportive of, the continuous overall improvement of the ESD.   There is widespread interest in re-branding the agency and making it a shining light among other ESDs.

About the Area:

Multnomah is Oregon’s largest county and includes the state’s largest city.  Almost twenty percent of the residents of Oregon live in the county and are served by the ESD.

The offices of the MESD are located in Portland, the City of Roses and one of the most popular cities in the country in terms of where people choose to live.  With more than 10,000 acres of parks and a commitment to an eco-friendly lifestyle, the greater Portland area is an economic powerhouse and yet one of the most beautiful cities in America.

An example of Portland’s continued rise in popularity is the Pearl District which is home to some of the city’s best known chefs and restaurants, world class art galleries, and vibrant shops and boutiques. Located in the heart of downtown, businesses ranging from finance and real estate to renowned advertising agencies and software firms can be found here, nestled among family-friendly parks that attract visitors and locals, many of whom call the neighborhood’s iconic residential buildings home. Formerly a neglected corridor of abandoned warehouses and railways, the Pearl District has earned a worldwide reputation for urban renaissance.

As the metropolitan center of Oregon, Portland and its suburbs offer a vast array of recreational, cultural, and entertainment options.  The city also prides itself in fitness and a significant portion of the population are prone to walk or ride bicycles.

Multnomah County is strategically located between the mountains and the ocean and both can be accessed with a day trip.  There is wine country to the south and the Columbia Gorge to the east.  Among the streams flowing through the county are the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.

On either side of the metro area are rural communities that include the entrance to the Gorge as well as Sauvie Island.  

The area is famous for its historic sites, performing arts, diverse music offerings, museums, a zoo, gardens, festivals, and professional sports.  The county also includes a nationally-famous collection of unique food carts in addition to a legendary restaurant and shopping scene.  

For the individual interested in the outdoors, a wide array of recreational opportunities is available both in the country-side and in the downtown area—particularly along the banks of the Willamette River.

Qualities and Qualifications:

  • Experience in establishing a clear direction and statement of values for an organization and the ability to clearly articulate those directions, expectations, and values as the fundamental mission and vision of the organization; proven experience in leading multi-year strategic planning processes in complex agencies with a broad range of stakeholders
  • An individual interested in advancing a forward-thinking disability agenda and an individual who understands the search for equity is a broad-based conversation as well someone who possesses a true understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • A heart for children and a willingness to make students the center of all decisions
  • Experience communicating in an inclusive and collaborative manner
  • Respectful, caring, and courageous
  • A charismatic individual with a reputation for strong interpersonal skills coupled with a sense of humor
  • An interest in working with labor, not just in negotiations, but throughout the year
  • The ability to inspire the performance of others through a combination of intellect and energy
  • Experience with budget and finance including a background in finding new revenue sources
  • A commitment to the utilization of data in the decision-making process and the ability to provide quantifiable results
  • Someone who values the contributions of all employees and offers genuine respect and dignity to everyone
  • The ability to bring the organization together and create strong communication and understanding between the various departments within the ESD and create a sense of trust throughout the organization
  • Experience in creating a strong management team
  • A willingness and ability to build strong and effective relationships with local school districts and the stakeholders and partners with whom the agency works—basically with anyone who can provide a positive impact on the students served by the ESD
  • An individual who brings grace to challenging decisions and situations
  • An individual who develops trust among co-workers through honesty and fairness
  • Someone who is easily approachable but real and genuine in relationships
  • An individual who is comfortable empowering staff members
  • The ability to set clear expectations and the willingness to follow through
  • A respect for the thoughts and the opinions of others coupled with the ability to make sound decisions

Board Members:

Nels Johnson, chair
Stephen Marc  Beaudoin, vice-chair
Francisco-Acosta,  Jr.
Mary Botkin
Siobhan Burke
Michael Durrow
Bernie Giusto

Application Procedures/Timelines/Compensation:

The district is offering a contract in the $180,000-$190,000 range including a generous benefits package which includes district payment of the PERS contribution. The contract length is negotiable but the district is anxious to maintain a long-term relationship.  Applications are due February 15, 2016, however the district retains the option of accepting applications until the position is filled.

Those interested in pursuing this position are urged to contact Northwest Leadership Associates through George Murdock at 541-278-4691 or at or Dr. Dennis Ray at

Application Materials: 

A completed application packet should include:

  • A letter of interest addressing the qualities, qualifications, and expectations outlined in this posting
  • Resume including information about potential references
  • Four letters of recommendation
  • A completed application form

All Application Materials Should Be Sent to:

George Murdock
Northwest Leadership Associates
191 NW Johns Lane
Pendleton, Oregon 97801

Or via email at: