SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced on Feb. 9 that he will appoint Jenifer Chao to serve as the next Director of the Department of Neighborhoods (DON). Chao, a community engagement leader, currently serves as the Deputy Director of Strategy and Administration in the City of Seattle’s Finance and Administrative Services.
Chao previously served on the Department of Neighborhoods’ Outreach and Engagement team, where she focused on developing strong and trusted relationships in the Chinatown-International District (CID) through work on the CID Community Vision Workgroup and Sound Transit 3 planning. Chao also served as the Interim Director of the Office of Civil Rights’ Race and Social Justice Initiative and worked in the Human Services Department where she supported the Seattle Youth Employment Program.
Chao said she is honored and excited about her new role.
“As a Southeast Asian immigrant who calls Seattle home, I understand how critical it is for all communities to have access to government so everyone can thrive. I look forward to building on the work of the department to grow strong community partnerships that are grounded in trust, connected to humanity, and centered in relationships.”
Chao’s nomination follows the selection of Greg Wong to serve as Deputy Mayor of External Relations in August 2022. Wong served as the Interim Director of DON after being appointed by Harrell in February 2022.
“Jenifer has worked tirelessly to uplift the voices of Seattle’s diverse communities to ensure they are heard, making her the right leader for DON,” said Wong.
Pradeepta Upadhyay, executive director for Interim CDA said, “In [Chao’s] work in the CID, she helped bridge the disparate voices in our neighborhood by facilitating conversations between diverse groups. Communities like the CID, built by the labor of immigrants, people of color, and the most marginalized, need leadership that Jenifer can bring to the City.”
The DON helps the City of Seattle build diverse, thriving communities by connecting residents to each other and government services.