Kristen Grainger Named President of The Alliance

January 17, 2017

Kristen Grainger, former director of communications for Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, has been selected to lead the Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges and Universities effective January 17, 2017.

“We are excited to welcome Kristen Grainger to lead The Alliance,” said Alliance Board of Trustees Chair Merrit Quarum, CEO of Qmedtrix Systems, Inc. “Her wealth of knowledge and experience in both the public and higher education sectors makes her an invaluable resource for all Alliance member institutions.”

Grainger looks forward to advancing The Alliance’s mission.

“Approximately one in four bachelor’s degrees awarded in Oregon comes from a private, independent college, contributing to the strong and skilled workforce businesses need,” Grainger said. “Every Alliance member school is unique, yet they share a strong commitment to student access, affordability, and success — including graduating on time. I am pleased and excited to represent and champion the Alliance.”

A skilled communications strategist with extensive higher education leadership experience, Grainger succeeds outgoing Alliance president Ron Saxton, who recently joined PeaceHealth as its general counsel.

As Gov. Brown’s communications director, Grainger oversaw a nine-member team’s efforts to advance the Governor’s strategic initiatives and goals for Oregon. As one of five members of her executive team, Grainger was one of Gov. Brown’s top advisors, stepping in as acting chief of staff on three occasions at Gov. Brown’s request. Gov. Brown tapped Grainger for her administration in the aftermath of Governor Kitzhaber’s unexpected resignation in February 2015, interrupting Grainger’s 13-year career at Willamette University (2002-15) where she was serving as vice president and assistant to presidents Lee Pelton and Stephen Thorsett, and acting president Larry Large.

As the President’s Office chief of staff and budget manager, Grainger oversaw the university’s Office of Institutional Research & Planning Support. Additionally, she was a key leader in university governance, strategic communications, marketing and media relations efforts, and also served as an elected corporate officer and administrator for the university’s 36-member Board of Trustees.

Grainger joined Willamette after directing communications for the Ted Kulongoski for Governor campaign (2002), where she served as the primary spokesperson and communications strategist for Kulongoski’s first successful gubernatorial bid.

Prior to that, Grainger directed public affairs for Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers (1996-2002), an appointment she accepted after co-founding and operating Grainger & Tresidder Inc. Government Relations for five years.

The Alliance works to strengthen Oregon’s intellectual, creative and economic resources by representing and serving Oregon’s regionally accredited not-for-profit colleges and universities. The Alliance provides public advocacy, facilitates inter-institutional cooperation, and forges strategic collaborations with the public sector, including business, philanthropy and government.

Member institutions are Concordia University, Corban University, George Fox University, Lewis & Clark College, Linfield College, Marylhurst University, Northwest Christian University, Pacific University, Reed College, University of Portland, Warner Pacific College and Willamette University.

Affiliate members include Multnomah University, National College of Natural Medicine, Oregon College of Art and Craft, Pacific Northwest College of Art, University of Western States and Western Seminary.