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Brown fires employment department director

Officials on Tuesday provided no reason for Lisa Nisenfeld's ouster from a job she's held since September 2013.

By Hillary Borrud

Capital Bureau

Published on January 5, 2016 5:15PM

SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown fired the director of the Oregon Employment Department on Tuesday.

It was unclear Tuesday afternoon why Brown decided to remove director Lisa Nisenfeld, who had worked at the agency since then-Gov. John Kitzhaber appointed her in September 2013. The governor’s spokespeople did not respond by deadline to requests for comment. Nisenfeld also could not be reached for comment.

Last week, the Secretary of State’s Office released an audit that found outdated computer systems at the Employment Department remained vulnerable more than a year after a major data breach at the agency.

Kay Erickson, the state budget manager who works for the Department of Administrative Services, will take over as acting director of the Employment Department until the state hires Nisenfeld’s replacement, according to a press release from the governor’s office. Matt Shelby, a spokesman for the Department of Administrative Services, said it was his understanding Nisenfeld did not resign from the job but rather the governor wanted a “change in leadership.”

Nisenfeld previously held jobs as president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council in Vancouver, Washington, and as executive director of the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council.

Brown’s decision to remove Nisenfeld means there are now at least three state agencies without a permanent director at the helm. Brown’s jobs and economic policy adviser, Vince Porter, has filled in as interim director of Business Oregon since Sean Robbins resigned his job as director of the agency in September, to move back to Wisconsin to be closer to his family. Brown also appointed state chief operating officer, Clyde Saiki, as interim director of the Department of Human Services, while the state conducts a national search for a permanent director. DHS director Erinn Kelley-Siel resigned last summer, shortly before the Willamette Week newspaper reported on DHS’ failure to act on child neglect and financial mismanagement complaints against the Portland foster care program Give Us This Day.

Oregon Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, has called for the resignation of the director of a fourth state agency, the Oregon Department of Transportation.


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