Current Size: 100%
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.
David Widmark, Chair
“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 is the first chair from east Multnomah County in Home Forward's history. He brings deep experience in the public sector to his role. He was a Gresham City Councilor who served four times in that role 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.
Jim Smith, Vice 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 small business community in the process of getting them to the next step -- economic independence.”
Smith has a strong background in business management, building small 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 and entrepreneurs to help them become successful.
Catherine Such, Treasurer
"I know from experience what a positive difference Home Forward makes in the lives of so many in our community. I look forward to helping the agency realize its goals in the very challenging environment the public sector operates in today."
Such brings extensive experience in the financial sector, proven organizational oversight skills, and a deep knowledge of Home Forward to the board. She is Manager of Fund Syndication for PNC Bank and was Home Forward's deputy executive director for three years starting in 2008 after serving on the Board of Commissioners for four years. Prior board experience also includes Central City Concern and the City of Portland's Housing and Community Development Commission.
Harriet Cormack, Chair Emeritus
“I'm proud to have served in a board leadership role for the past four years and in the year ahead. We are committed to Home Forward continuing to be a reliable partner as we come together with others in the community to provide individuals and families in Multnomah County with safe and affordable shelter and services."
Chair Cormack is a longtime community leader who brings more than 25 years of real estate management and development experience to the position. Cormack served as director of the Portland Center for the Performing Arts for six years. Prior to that, she served as vice president for development for Cornerstone Development Co., leading the development of Portland's RiverPlace and Seattle's Waterfront Place. She led urban renewal efforts for the preservation of the Pike Place Market and adjacent residential development in downtown Seattle. Cormack, now retired, also brings solid housing experience to the board. She worked at the Boston Housing Authority in the 1960s and was a former chair of the Oregon Corporation for Affordable Housing (dba Homestead Capital).
Jorge Fernando Guzman, Commissioner
“I am excited to serve the community by supporting an important cause like Home Forward's mission. As a board member, I am especially interested in building bridges to resources for people who may not have a strong voice or who don't have the opportunity to get involved.”
Guzman manages the Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative program for Multnomah County in his role as Mortgage Payment Assistance Manager for Hacienda CDC, a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing, economic advancement, and educational opportunities to Latino and non-Latino families. He also is one of the co-founders of Hispanicpros, a media outlet dedicated to promoting the professional and business segment of the Portland metro area's Hispanic community.
Benita Legarza, Commissioner
"Good communications between Home Forward and residents is essential. I want to use my board service to make communications even more effective, so my fellow residents understand all of the opportunities available to them once they have the security of a stable home."
Legarza holds the resident seat on the board. She has a passion for social justice and policies that help residents achieve success and stability in their lives. As a single mother of four, she worked to put herself through college and will earn a bachelor's degree in Administration of Justice from Portland State University this year. As co-chair of Home Forward's Resident Advisory Committee, she has championed the development of a compact between residents and the agency that holds both accountable for a supportive, respectful relationship. She is an active member of the National Low Income Housing Coalition and volunteers for the National Law Project.
Brian 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, 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.