Jeff Cogen

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Jeff Cogen
Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen.jpg
Cogen in 2012
Multnomah County Chair
In office
May 2010 – September 2013
Constituency Residents of Portland, Fairview, Gresham, Maywood Park, Troutdale and Wood Village, Oregon
Multnomah County Commissioner, District 2
In office
Constituency Residents of District 2, Multnomah County, Oregon
Personal details
Born 1962 (age 54–55)
Residence Portland, Oregon
Alma mater Brown University
Profession Lawyer, businessman, politician

Jeffrey Scott Cogen (born 1962)[1] is a businessman, lawyer, and former politician in the U.S. state of Oregon. Since 2016, he has been Executive Director of Impact NW, a social service and anti-poverty organization headquartered in Portland, Oregon.[2] He served as chairman of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners from 2010 to 2013. Multnomah County is Oregon’s most populous county, with approximately 742,000 residents. The cities of Portland, Fairview, Gresham, Maywood Park, Troutdale and Wood Village are all located within Multnomah County.[3]

Early life[edit]

Jeff Cogen was born on an American military base in Germany and grew up in Miami, Florida,[4] with his parents and brother. In high school, Cogen was a member of the debate team and earned the title of Top Individual Speaker at the Florida State Debate Championship. Cogen attended Brown University, where he received a B.A. in Political Science. He then earned a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.[5]

Early career[edit]

Cogen practiced law for four years in San Francisco, California,[6] until relocating to Portland, Oregon, with his wife, Lisa in 1992. There, they and some friends started Portland’s first certified organic bakery, the Portland Pretzel Company.[7] Cogen was president of the small company, which in early 1996 had eleven other employees.[6]

Political career[edit]

Cogen served as communications director for the Multnomah Commission on Children and Families. He later joined the board for Hands on Greater Portland, a nonprofit that connects volunteers with initiatives in their community, where he was elected board president.[8]

Cogen entered Portland politics by joining former Multnomah County Chair Beverly Stein’s staff in 1999. Cogen then went to Portland city hall, and in 2003 was named chief of staff to Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman.[5]

In 2006, Cogen was elected to the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners[9] as Commissioner for District 2, representing North and Northeast Portland.

In March 2010, then-Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler resigned from his role on the Board of County Commissioners to step into the position of Oregon State Treasurer, to which he was appointed after the death of incumbent Oregon state treasurer Ben Westlund.[10]

On April 1, 2010, Cogen was appointed as Multnomah County Chair by the Board of County Commissioners to complete the remainder of Wheeler’s term.[11]

In May 2010, Cogen was elected to a four-year term as Multnomah County Chair[12] and sworn in on January 6, 2011.[13]

Projects and initiatives[edit]

Cogen in 2011

During his time on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, Cogen has overseen the following efforts:

  • The opening of the Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services, a “one-stop center” for domestic violence services in 2010.[14]
The center is run in partnership between Multnomah County and the City of Portland and offers onsite services to domestic

violence survivors and their children including:

    • Crisis and safety planning
    • Restraining order applications
    • Access to specially trained police officers
    • Prosecution services and support
    • Alcohol/drug and mental health assessment services
    • Civil legal assistance
    • Children and teen support services[15]
  • Creation of the Multnomah County CROPS Farm: in 2009, Cogen's office launched the Multnomah County CROPS Farm, a piece of county-owned land used to grow fresh produce for the Oregon Food Bank.[16] The surplus Multnomah County property in Troutdale, Oregon, was converted into a two-acre farm and has since grown vegetables for people accessing the Oregon Food Bank.
  • Sale restriction of reusable beverage containers containing Bisphenol A in Multnomah County: in October 2011, Multnomah County’s Board of Health adopted a policy brought forward by Cogen that restricted the sale of all reusable beverage containers that contain Bisphenol A (BPA), an chemical used in certain hard plastic containers like baby bottles, sippy cups and water bottles within Multnomah County.[17]

According to the Multnomah County website, "The Health Department’s analysis found that babies and young children are more vulnerable to the effects of Bisphenol A. Disruption of an infant’s hormonal system can affect their development, putting them at risk for behavioral problems, breast and prostate cancer and a variety of other issues."[18]

In July 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of Bisphenol A in sippy cups and baby bottles nationwide.[19]
  • Change in policy on immigration holds in Multnomah County jails: in April 2013, Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton adopted a change in policy developed in partnership between Cogen’s office and Multnomah County Sheriff's Office to stop complying with federal immigration holds for low-level offenders in Multnomah County jails.[20]
Prior to this change in policy, people booked in Multnomah County jails and suspected of undocumented immigration by U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), were held for up to 48 hours at the federal government's request. These 48-hour holds, called I-247 detainers, keep people in jail even after they have been cleared of their booking charges. They can be enforced no matter the allegation.[21]
Under the change in policy, which went into effect April 15, 2013,[22] the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office no longer holds people for U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement after their booking charges have cleared if:
    • They have been charged with low-level misdemeanors
    • An ICE detainer has been issued based solely on immigration charges or convictions[23]
  • Coal export health impact study: in September 2012, Cogen directed the Multnomah County Health Department to conduct a study on the impact of coal export by rail through Multnomah County on residents' health. The call for the study was brought on by proposals for new coal export terminals in Oregon and Washington.[24]
The report, which was completed by the Health Department in February 2013, looked at populations in Multnomah County that would be most affected by coal transportation by rail, as well as six potential environmental effects of concern, including "emission of particulate matter in the form of coal dust" and "emission of particulate matter in the form of diesel locomotive exhaust." Potential health outcomes associated with coal dust and diesel exhaust identified in the report included "heart and lung problems, cancers, growth and development problems, stress and mental health problems, injury and death."[25]
  • Creation of a firearms safety ordinance: in April 2013, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a firearms safety ordinance co-sponsored by Chair Cogen and District 1 Multnomah County Commissioner, Deborah Kafoury.[26]

According to the Multnomah County website, the ordinance restricts "the possession of a loaded firearm in a public place with certain exceptions, including licensed hunters engaged in lawful hunting, target shooters at an established target shooting area, people licensed to carry a concealed weapon, and law enforcement officers in the performance of their official duty." Additionally, the ordinance restricts "the discharge of a firearm in Multnomah County, requires firearm owners to prevent access to firearms by children, requires reporting the theft of a firearm within 48 hours, and extends curfew hours for minors who have been found by a court to have possessed, bought, used, transferred or transported a firearm and are under supervision."[27]

  • Opening of the Mental Health Crisis Assessment and Treatment Center (CATC): Cogen coordinated with the City of Portland, the State of Oregon and Central City Concern to open the Mental Health Crisis Assessment and Treatment Center (CATC) in June 2011. The center is located at 55 N.E Grand Ave. in Portland, Oregon.[28]
In 2011, Jaymee Cutti of Oregon Public Broadcasting described the CATC as such: "The 16-bed facility will serve as a safety net for homeless and severely low-income individuals experiencing a mental health crisis, where they can stabilize, and then connect to longer term services for housing, treatment, education or job training."[29]
  • Sale of the Morrison Bridgehead: in June 2012, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted in favor of a resolution brought forward by Chair Cogen proposing the $10.4 million sale of the county-owned Morrison Bridgehead site.[30]
The board-approved agreement finalized the sale of the bridgehead to Melvin Mark Development Company for the creation of the James Beard Public Market - a planned year-round indoor and outdoor food market with a high-rise tower and sky-bridge connecting the properties.[30]
The Morrison Bridgehead is a 3.12-acre site on the west side of the Morrison Bridge in downtown Portland, Oregon. It was first acquired by the county in the 1950s as a bridge construction staging area and has most recently been used for surface parking. The site was declared surplus county property in 2004.[31]
  • Creation of a library district in Multnomah County: the Multnomah County Library is Oregon's largest public library,[32] serving nearly one-fifth of the state's population. It is the second busiest library in the United States.[33]
On August 2, 2012, in a resolution brought forward by Chair Jeff Cogen’s office, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of referring a measure to the ballot that would allow county residents to vote on the creation of a permanent library district for the Multnomah County Library in the November 2012 election.[34]
Since 1976, the Multnomah County Library system was funded through a combination of the county's general fund and a series of temporary tax levies that had to be renewed by voters every three to five years.[33]
On November 6, 62 percent of county voters voted in favor the ballot measure, approving the creation of a permanent library district for the Multnomah County Library. The library district, effective July 2013, provides funding for the library system solely through a permanent taxing district at a limited rate of up to $1.24 per $1,000 of a property's assessed value in Multnomah County.[35]
  • Executive rule requiring gender-neutral bathrooms in new and updated Multnomah County buildings: On June 11, 2013, Cogen signed an executive rule[36] requiring that all new and remodeled Multnomah County-owned buildings have gender-neutral bathrooms installed, in addition to traditional gender-specific bathrooms.[37]

According to Dana Tims of The Oregonian, the executive rule "is intended to eliminate stigmas for transgender county employees and visitors using county-owned restrooms."[36]

The rule also calls for the hanging of signage directing people to available gender-neutral restrooms in existing county facilities, as well as an assessment of where there may be a need for gender-neutral restrooms in existing Multnomah County facilities.[38]

According to Sergio Cisneros of Oregon Public Broadcasting, “Multnomah is one of the first counties in the U.S. to implement a gender-neutral bathroom rule. Philadelphia was the first city to have such a rule.”[39]

2013 controversy and resignation[edit]

In 2013, Cogen admitted to an extramarital affair with a policy advisor in the Multnomah County Health Department following public allegations.[40] The policy advisor resigned under pressure from the county health department for having a conflict of interest.[41] For some weeks, he rejected calls for him to resign, which included a July 24 vote by his four fellow county commissioners.[9] "I deserve a chance for the facts to come out," he told the media.[42] However, on September 6, 2013, he announced his intention to resign, effective ten days later.[43] His final day in office was September 16.[9] He was succeeded as county chair by his chief of staff, Marissa Madrigal, who was sworn-in on September 17, 2013.[44]

Post-political work[edit]

In June 2016, Cogen was named executive director of Impact NW, a social service and anti-poverty organization headquartered in Portland.[2] He began working in the position on July 1, 2016.[2][45]

Personal life[edit]

As of 2011, Cogen was living in Northeast Portland with his wife, Lisa and their two children.[7] He enjoys reading science fiction novels and is an avid fan of live music, especially the Grateful Dead.[7] In July 2017, Cogen suffered a stroke that was described as moderate.[46]


  1. ^ Slovic, Beth (March 24, 2012). "Pike Place-style market is on table". The Oregonian. 
  2. ^ a b c Jaquiss, Nigel (July 12, 2016). "Jeff Cogen Returns, in a Job That Depends on Multnomah County". Willamette Week. Retrieved 2017-08-10. 
  3. ^ "Oregon Blue Book". 
  4. ^ Hannah-Jones, Nikole. "Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen credits upbringing for his devotion to diversity". The Oregonian. 
  5. ^ a b "Multnomah County Elections Voters' Pamphlet, May 2010". Multnomah County Elections. 
  6. ^ a b Leeson, Fred (January 28, 1996). "Success with a twist". The Oregonian. p. C4. 
  7. ^ a b c Bayer, Israel. "A talk with Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen on what’s wrong, what’s right, and what could be". Street Roots. 
  8. ^ "Trail Blazers Heart of the Community Awards Award Recipients". 
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  10. ^ Fought, Tim (March 9, 2010). "Ted Wheeler named new Oregon treasurer". KGW. Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 7, 2012. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  11. ^ Pitkin, James (March 15, 2010). "Jeff Cogen to Take Over Next Month as Multnomah County Chair". Willamette Week. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Jeff Cogen elected Multnomah County chairman; Karol Collymore and Loretta Smith in runoff for District 2 seat". The Oregonian. May 18, 2010. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Jan. 6, 2011 Meeting of the Board of Multnomah County Commissioners Agenda". Multnomah County. 
  14. ^ Brettman, Allan (September 3, 2010). "Portland's new domestic-violence center brings services under one roof". The Oregonian. 
  15. ^ "Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services". Multnomah County. Archived from the original on 2013-04-16. 
  16. ^ Hannah-Jones, Nikole. "Garden benefiting food bank planned at old Multnomah County Poor Farm". The Oregonian. 
  17. ^ Baer, April. "Multnomah County Bans BPA". Oregon Public Broadcasting. 
  18. ^ "Multnomah County Board of Commissioners passes ban on sale of some products with Bisphenol A". 
  19. ^ Tavernise, Sabrina. "F.D.A. Makes It Official: BPA Can’t Be Used in Baby Bottles and Cups". The New York Times. 
  20. ^ Newcomb, Alyssa. "Oregon Sheriff May Release Undocumented Imm". ABC News. 
  21. ^ Law, Steve (March 28, 2013). "Sheriff considers dropping ICE holds on some peopl". Portland Tribune. 
  22. ^ Tims, Dana (April 4, 2013). "Multnomah County sheriff will change immigration-hold policy starting April 15". The Oregonian. 
  23. ^ "Resolution in support of Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Revised Plan for 1-247 Immigration Detainers". Multnomah County. 
  24. ^ Stewart, Bonnie. "Multnomah County Begins Health Study On Coal Export Risk". Earthfix. 
  25. ^ "The Human Health Effects of Rail Transport of Coal Through Multnomah County, Oregon" (PDF). Multnomah County Health Department. 
  26. ^ Tims, Dana (April 25, 2013). "Multnomah County commissioners, over objections from some, approve new gun-control ordinance". The Oregonian. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Multnomah County Board unanimously approves gun safety ordinance". Multnomah County. April 18, 2013. 
  28. ^ Joseph, Andrew (June 11, 2011). "New mental health center in Northeast Portland will help fill gap for people in crisis". The Oregonian. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  29. ^ Cutti, Jaymee. "Mental Health Crisis Center Opens". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  30. ^ a b Mayer, James (June 24, 2012). "Multnomah County approves public market land deal". The Oregonian. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  31. ^ "Board finalizes sale of Morrison Bridgehead; public market moves a step closer". Multnomah County. June 14, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Multnomah County Library Factsheet". 
  33. ^ a b "Library Measure 26-143 passes, creating stable, dedicated funding district for county libraries". Multnomah County Library. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  34. ^ Giegerich, Andy (August 2, 2012). "Multnomah County takes library district to voters". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  35. ^ Law, Steve (November 6, 2012). "Multnomah County residents favoring library district". Portland Tribune. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  36. ^ a b Tims, Dana (June 11, 2013). "Multnomah County becomes one of first in nation to require gender-neutral bathrooms for transgender users". The Oregonian. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  37. ^ Jones, Saeed. "Today, Multnomah County In Oregon Will Begin Requiring Gender-Neutral Bathrooms". Buzzfeed LGBT. 
  38. ^ "Multnomah County increases availability of gender-neutral restrooms in its buildings". Multnomah County. Archived from the original on October 13, 2013. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  39. ^ Cisneros, Sergio. "Multnomah County To Require 'Gender-Neutral' Bathrooms". Oregon Public Broadcasting. 
  40. ^ Tims, Dana (July 17, 2013). "Jeff Cogen, Multnomah County board chairman, admits to affair with policy adviser". The Oregonian. p. B1. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  41. ^ "Jeff Cogen says he won't resign, survives vote by Multnomah County commissioners that he step down". Retrieved 2017-06-20. 
  42. ^ "Jeff Cogen says he won't resign, survives vote by Multnomah County commissioners that he step down". Retrieved 2017-06-20. 
  43. ^ Tims, Dana (September 7, 2013). "Cogen quits; shuffle starts – Jeff Cogen's resignation elevates his aide and sets up a scramble for the county chair". The Oregonian. p. 1. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  44. ^ Tims, Dana (September 17, 2013). "Marissa Madrigal takes oath as county chair, replacing Jeff Cogen". The Oregonian. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  45. ^ Smith, Emily E. (July 12, 2016). "Former Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen takes job as Impact NW executive director". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2017-08-10. 
  46. ^ Matsumoto, Samantha (July 27, 2017). "Former Multnomah County chair Jeff Cogen suffers stroke". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2017-08-10.