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Comings and goings: Comms staff changes

Gov. Kate Brown now has an official communications director for her reelection campaign. Two agencies hire new media contacts.

COURTESY PHOTO - Christian Gaston, communications director for Gov. Kate Brown's reelection campaignMultnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury's policy director, Christian Gaston, joined the Gov. Kate Brown reelection campaign March 19 as communications director.

Kafoury is married to Brown's chief of staff Nik Blosser, co-founder of the Oregon Business Alliance.

Thomas Wheatley, Brown's campaign adviser, previously served as spokesman for the campaign. He will continue working on the campaign but mostly behind the scenes, he wrote in an email to Oregon Capital Insider.

Before working for the county, Gaston worked in journalism and wrote for several publications, including Willamette Week and The Oregonian.

Gov. Brown's former press secretary, Victoria Nguyen, recently took a position as interim communications director for the Office of Deputy Superintendent Colt Gill at the Oregon Department of Education. Nguyen plans to attend the University of Oregon School of Law in August, so the state education agency is recruiting for a permanent communications director.

Former Communications Director Tricia Yates left to pursue "new opportunities," she wrote in a text message to Oregon Capital Insider.

"I was happy with my achievements there and wanted to take on a new challenge," she wrote. Her resignation was effective March 16, according to her resignation letter.

The Department of Environmental Quality's new communications manager, Donnie Oliveira, comes from San Francisco. In 2017, the city gave him a Good Government award for his creative environmental campaigns and creation of a permanent, entry-level environmental jobs program. He created public outreach campaigns such as Real Foodies Compost, which promoted composting among millennials. In 2014, he also figured out a way to communicate the city's 35-step Climate Action Plan in a 30-second slot, according to an article by the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association.