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.
Harriet Cormack, Chair
“I'm proud to serve as Chair of an organization that does an outstanding job helping people in need of housing in Multnomah County. We must continue to stretch resources creatively so that we can assist as many people as possible during these very challenging economic times."
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).
David Widmark, Vice Chair
“Serving on the Home Forward board provides an opportunity to raise the bar on housing conditions in Gresham and the region. When housing improves, the overall quality of life in the community improves too.”
Vice Chair Widmark was a Gresham City Councilor who served four times in that role since 1996. His volunteer public service also includes numerous committee and task force assignments, including seven years on the Gresham Planning Commission, five of which he served as chair. In addition to this work, he was general manager and public relations director for Cramer Fish Sciences, a fisheries consulting firm, for four years until June 2008. Prior to that, 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, Treasurer
“I would like to focus my service on the Home Forward board on tying the process we have to help many of our clients reach economic independence to Portland’s small business economy, making this effort as relevant as possible to our clients’ needs.”
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 a member of the city of Portland’s Small Business Advisory Council and serves 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.
Lee Moore, Chair Emeritus
“Many of the issues facing people today are the same challenges my family had when I was a child...I am humbled to be in a position to help folks who are striving to improve their lives.”
Moore brings senior management experience in both the public and private sectors to the Home Forward board, as well as a deep commitment to the agency's mission shaped by personal history. His parents came to Oregon during World War II to work in the Kaiser shipyards, and the family lived in government housing as they saved to buy a home. Today, Moore is the general manager of Clackamas River Water, with previous positions in the public sector that include Deputy Director, Oregon Lottery and Acting Executive Director and Director of Operations and Hearings for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. He worked in the private sector at Tektronix, where he managed new site development and operations, and at Precision Castparts, and he has owned a small business. Moore has served on numerous boards and commissions and is the past Vice Chair of the Southwest Portland Neighborhood Association.
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.
David Kelleher, Commissioner
"Home Forward recognizes that it takes more than shelter to help people in need reach their potential. I want to help ensure they can continue to find innovative ways to realize this vision in a challenging funding environment."
As a co-founder and principal of ACME business consulting, Kelleher has extensive experience helping organizations achieve their strategic visions. ACME provides management, operations, project and strategy consulting and is one of the Portland area's fastest growing private companies. Kelleher's civic commitments, which include serving on the boards of Janus Youth Projects and Junior Achievement, give him a deep understanding of the challenges faced by people with limited means. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1996, he works actively in finding a cure for the disease and is on the board of the National MS Society, Oregon chapter.
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. She serves on Home Forward's Resident Advisory Committee, 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.
Catherine Such, Commissioner
"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 Senior Vice President/Manager of Fund Syndication for PNC Bank, managing fund syndication for the tax credit group. She 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.