A top staffer at City Hall has taken a new job in government affairs for a bank with billions in the vault.
Berk Nelson — who served as Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler's senior policy advisor on law enforcement and homelessness — will now work as vice president of government relations for Umpqua Bank, according to his LinkedIn page.
Nelson has advised the mayor since January, 2017, and was a key player in the relocation of organized homeless village Right 2 Dream Too from downtown to the east bank of the Willamette River near the Moda Center.
"This has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me because I have gained immeasurable insight into how government serves the community," Nelson said in a statement announcing his departure. "I am grateful to the mayor for giving me this opportunity."
Nelson was involved in examining alternatives to the first responders rushing toward non-emergency police calls. He also liaised with Multnomah County on mental health issues.
Wheeler says he'll remember his former counselor fondly. "He brought a wealth of intelligence and ideas to this challenging position. I have been lucky to have such a talented, hardworking advisor over the last two years," the mayor noted.
Nelson's last day was Friday, March 15.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to remove information that is disputed. A previous version of this story relied on reports from other local media without reaching out to both sides for their comment.
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