The Metro Exposition and Recreation Commission, or MERC, has a new commissioner. Deidra Krys-Rusoff, a senior vice president at Ferguson Wellman Capital Management, will attend her first meeting as a commissioner after being appointed by the Metro Council in early April.
Krys-Rusoff may be new to the MERC, but she is not new to Metro. She has served on the Oregon Zoo Bond Citizens Oversight Committee since its inception in 2010. She started off as vice chair and finished as chair in 2014.
"I'm excited to meet the other MERC commissioners and excited to be able to work with Metro again," Krys-Rusoff said. "Metro staff are some of the most committed and dedicated professionals I have ever worked with. To keep working with that quality of people excites me."
The MERC works to protect the public investment in three of Metro's visitor venues: Oregon Convention Center, Portland Expo Center and Portland’5 Centers for the Arts. MERC provides expertise, governance and policy direction to the businesses with the goal of maintaining excellent venues and doing it in a way that is financially sustainable and serves the public interest.
Scott Robinson, Metro's deputy chief operating officer, said Krys-Rusoff was an obvious choice for Metro's open spot on the commission.
"What Diedra brings is a passion for excellence and protecting the public interest," Robinson said.
During her four years of service on the Zoo Bonds Citizens Oversight Committee, Krys-Rusoff brought a wealth of knowledge, Robinson said.
"She is coming out of the financial sector. She's involved in bond markets and that really helped our oversight committee. She is able to communicate the technical information to the rest of the committee in a way they can understand. "
Heidi Rahn, Metro's Zoo Bond program director, saw Krys-Rusoff's work with the oversight committee first-hand.
"The community can feel confident in the representation they have when people like Deidra serve," Rahn said. "Deidra is one of those people that have such a great skill set that she can help Metro in a variety of capacities."
Krys-Rusoff said she learns a great deal as a volunteer.
"I find it fascinating. Metro does a very good job governing the region and being involved in this way gives me an inside look into how a municipality works and is managed," she said.
With the MERC commission appointment, Krys-Rusoff is looking forward to both contributing and learning more.
"I thought it would be great to look at the venues. They have such an interesting configuration the way the tax system works. I will get a lot of economic and visitor information on this commission," she said.
Attracting high-quality volunteers to Metro is key to making sure Metro continues to represent the community.
"People connect to Metro's work and our visitor venues in many different ways so we are able to attract really experienced citizens who want to be a part of shaping that future," said Rahn.
Robinson said Metro has a reputation for valuing volunteers and that helps to attract people.
"We don't take these roles as token and people know that," Robinson said. " Metro provides opportunities for substantive citizen participation. We give people a voice."
Attracting experts form the Portland metro community is essential, Robinson said.
"We have a tremendous wealth of experience in this community and also a pride of volunteerism. Our citizens provide us with valuable insights. "
MERC commissioners are appointed by the Metro Council upon recommendation from local area governments. The commission includes seven members representing Portland, Metro, and one each for Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. The commissioners serve four-year terms.