Douglas County Commissioner Shannon Portillo accepts job in Arizona

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Douglas County Commissioner Shannon Portillo has accepted a position at Arizona State University and will soon leave her role on the commission, she announced Monday.

Portillo is also currently associate dean of academic affairs for the University of Kansas Edwards Campus and its School of Professional Studies.

She will start her new position, director of ASU’s School of Public Affairs, on Oct. 1.

“At Arizona State, I will continue my work fighting for increased access to top-tier research universities for marginalized communities,” she said in a statement. “I will continue exploring how structural racism and sexism shape the work of our public institutions and the experiences of those working within them. And I believe I will be able to help restore faith in our local institutions by preparing the next generation of local government leaders, public servants, scholars, and policymakers for the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

Portillo’s family plans to move with her to Phoenix, according to a news release from ASU. She did not yet have a firm timeline Monday of when that move will happen and when her time in office will end, but she said she planned to be in Lawrence into the early fall.

The Democratic precinct committeepeople of the county’s third commission district will select Portillo’s replacement once she moves, according to her statement. “I am confident that they will find a strong leader who will continue to center the most vulnerable voices in our community,” she said.

Portillo has also served on the Governor’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice, the Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and other boards.

“While the role of County Commissioner has been challenging, it has also been one of the most galvanizing and rewarding experiences of my life,” Portillo said in her statement. “Douglas County has been my home for the majority of my life. And while my family is relocating, Douglas County will continue to be just that: home. Until we move, I will continue to advocate for a stronger, healthier, and safer Douglas County where our policies match our rhetoric.”

The new position “affords me the opportunity to build on my experiences at the University of Kansas, where I have spent over 15 years of my life, first as a student, then as a professor and administrator,” Portillo said in her statement.

Portillo was elected in the November 2020 election and took office in January 2021. Her term expires in January 2025.

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