Association of Oregon Counties Names Dr. Gina Firman Nikkel Executive Director

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By Megan Chuinard 

The Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) board of directors named Gina Firman Nikkel Ph.D. executive director of the organization. Dr. Firman Nikkel, will serve as the fifth executive director, and first female executive director, beginning March 16, 2020. 

Dr. Firman Nikkel comes to AOC from the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care where she served as president and chief executive officer since 2011. 

 “We are delighted to share the news of this appointment,” said Jim Doherty, AOC president and Morrow County commissioner. Gina will be an asset to the organization and bring new leadership and fresh ideas to move us into the future.”

Dr. Firman Nikkel, a former county commissioner and community mental health organization leader brings a wealth of knowledge in county issues to AOC. 

 “Gina has a deep understanding of health and human services, while also possessing vast experience in the areas of leadership and public policy,” said George Murdock, AOC second vice president, AOC executive director search committee co-chair, and Umatilla County commissioner. “In addition, Gina has experience working with county government as a former commissioner and consulting with local government on a variety of policies. I am confident she will carry out AOC’s work of promoting shared county interests and advocating for strong public policy that benefits every county in the state.”

In her role, Dr. Firman Nikkel will be responsible leading the 36-county member organization, and partners in driving AOC’s mission to unite Oregon’s 36 counties by advocating with a collective voice on statewide and national policy; exchanging ideas, building new leadership and exercising exemplary leadership in public service; and enriching the public’s understanding of county government. She will oversee a 21-member staff, and her work will be directed by the AOC board of directors. 

Dr. Firman Nikkel holds a doctorate degree in education focusing on public policy and leadership from the University of Oregon, and a master’s degree in counseling and bachelor’s degree in theater and dance from Portland State University. 

About AOC

The Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) unites Oregon’s 36 county governments. Founded in 1906, AOC brings county officials together to advocate with a collective voice on state-wide and national policy, exchange ideas, build new leadership skills, and exercise exemplary leadership in public service, while enriching the public’s understanding of county government. 

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