Finding the Gaps
Finding Funding in Unusual Programs
Sophorn Cheang currently serves as Director of Business Oregon. Prior to that, Sophorn served as the Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Governor Kate Brown. In this role she oversaw the development of state business policies to eliminate bias and barriers and provided economic opportunities for all Oregon businesses through equity practices in state procurement and community economic development. Cheang also co-coordinated the Governor’s Racial Justice Council.
Oregon State Director
Rural Development, United States Department of Agriculture
Margi Hoffmann’s professional career began working in natural resources management on federal lands. In 2012 and 2015, Oregon Governors John Kitzhaber and Kate Brown, respectively, appointed Hoffmann to serve as Energy Policy Advisor. In this position, Hoffmann developed the first-ever 10-Year Energy Action Plan for the State of Oregon and served as the Governor’s office liaison to the Oregon Public Utility Commission and Oregon Department of Energy. In addition, she served as liaison to the Pacific Coast Collaborative, a partnership between the States of California, Oregon, and Washington, and the Province of British Columbia.
After leaving the Governor’s office, Hoffmann served as a senior management team member for the Farmers Conservation Alliance, a non-profit focused on modernizing irrigation infrastructure in the Western United States to benefit agricultural security and the environment. During Hoffmann’s tenure, the Alliance’s irrigation modernization program grew from the pilot stage to implementation across five western states and created a $1B pipeline of shovel ready irrigation modernization projects.
In January 2022, Hoffmann received a Presidential appointment to continue public service as a state director for USDA Rural Development, serving the State of Oregon.
The Impact of Changing Demographics
- Deb Flagan, VP of Community Engagement, Hayden Homes
Deb Flagan is an advocate for workforce and housing affordability throughout the states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. For more than 20 years, she has led community engagement, philanthropic giving and marketing initiatives for Hayden Homes, the largest private home builder in the Pacific Northwest. She is focused on public-private partnerships and community relationships that support Hayden Homes’ “Give As You Go™” philosophy to promote strong communities.
- Damon Runberg, Economist, Business Oregon
Damon Runberg is the State Economist at Business Oregon. He supports the statewide economic development goals by tracking and analyzing economic indicators critical to Oregon’s workers and businesses. He also evaluates the effectiveness of Oregon’s economic development strategies and incentives. Prior to working with Business Oregon Damon was the Regional Economist with the Oregon Employment Department for the East Cascades of Oregon for nearly 12 years.
- Lorelei Juntunen, President and CEO, ECONorthwest
Lorelei Juntunen has devoted her career to improving policy outcomes at the intersection of public investment, equitable community and economic development, and housing affordability. In communities large and small across the American West, Lorelei works with clients to develop economic revitalization strategies, affordable housing plans, and policies for investing in infrastructure and service provision. In 2023, she led the team that drove the largest reform of Oregon’s land use planning system in its 50 years of existence. This reform began with the development of the Oregon Housing Needs Analysis, a new methodology for understanding housing needs in Oregon.
- Nick Green, President, Catalyst Public Policy Advisors, LLC
Nick is the President of Catalyst Public Policy Advisors, LLC, an advisory firm for rural agencies and investors centered on public-private developments. Before founding Catalyst, Nick was the city manager of John Day, Oregon, from 2016-2022, where he raised over $30 million in public investment capital for housing and community development projects, including over $10 million to finance a new water reclamation facility and brownfield redevelopment project in John Day called the John Day Innovation Gateway. Nick’s work on this project has won multiple awards, including the Western Planner President’s Award (2021) for planning innovation.