The city of Camas this week announced the hiring of two key director positions, including the new head of the parks and recreation department and the city’s first director of communications.
Trang Lam, the University of Portland’s associate vice president for land use and planning, will replace longtime parks director Jerry Acheson, who retired Oct. 31 after three decades with the city.
Lam, who beat out 59 other parks director applicants from across the nation, will begin her new position on Jan. 25.
Camas Mayor Barry McDonnell said in a press release that Lam “has a true passion for parks.”
“Her leadership and experience combined with her energy will help us take our parks and recreation department into the future,” McDonnell said.
According to the release, Lam has more than 20 years experience as an entrepreneur and as a team leader at the University of Portland, Portland Parks & Recreation and Prosper Portland, formerly known as the Portland Development Commission.
Prior to working with the city of Portland and the university, Lam helped run her family’s food manufacturing company in Oregon and earned her bachelor of arts degree from Portland State University. She told city leaders that, in her down time, she and her husband enjoy hiking and kayaking and enjoying the outdoors.
According to the city’s new release, Lam has “led high-performing teams focused on outcomes that promote people’s health and wellbeing through connection to nature and recreation; community development that centers on economic opportunity and prosperity for small business and underserved communities; and, at the University of Portland, the creation of campus spaces that foster a complete learning environment for future leaders, across academia.”
New communications director coming from city of Boulder job
City councilors OK’d the creation of the new communications director position in January 2020, and said the new hire would function as the city’s spokesperson, manage Camas’ external communication channels and assist the city’s new administrator.
“I’m really excited we’re going to go ahead with (this) position,” Councilwoman Ellen Burton said in January 2020. “Communication has moved up to such a higher level that we need to be on top of it, too.”
Burton and other councilors believed the communications head should be a director instead of a manager so they would have a “seat at the table” on all city matters and be the “go-to person” for engaging with the public and key stakeholders.
On Monday, Dec. 28, the city announced that Bryan Rachal, the former deputy communications director for the city of Boulder, will be Camas’ first director of communications.
“(Rachal’s) energy, positivity and overall experience in communications make him the perfect choice for our first director of communications,” Mayor McDonnell said. “He is excited to bring his family to Camas and make it their home.”
Rachal comes to the city with 12 years of public relations experience, having worked with city leaders in Boulder and as the director of university communications for the University of North Alabama.
Rachal earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the School of Journalism and Strategic Media at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and earned his accreditation in public relations in 2016.
After earning his journalism degree, Rachal worked as a reporter for National Public Radio affiliate KUAF in Northwest Arkansas and as a reporter and news producer for ABC and NBC affiliate stations in Colorado and Arkansas.
According to the city’s news release, Rachal and his wife, Andrea, have two children, Alex, 12 and Annabelle, 9, as well as a cat named Fredo after a character in Rachal’s favorite movie, “The Godfather,” and two Brittany spaniels, Lolli and Cocoa.
The city advertised the communications director and parks and recreation director positions locally, regionally and nationally and said each candidate “went through a multi-week process that involved input and involvement from all staff levels as well as an initial round of video interviews followed by multiple virtual interviews with a variety of panels.”
The city’s director of parks and recreation position has a pay scale in 2021 that starts at $8,552 per month on the first tier and goes up to $10,243 per month on the highest, seventh tier.
The new communications director will be considered a member of the city’s senior leadership team with a salary range starting at $7,772 per month on tier one and going up to $9,309 per month on tier seven.
Camas City Administrator Jamal Fox said the new directors would be “wonderful additions” to the city’s staff.
“I am certain they will not only carry on a legacy of excellence within the organization but also bring new ideas for enhancing our commitment and connections to ‘Land, People and Honesty’ throughout the community,” Fox stated in the news release.