Judy Fattori, a blue-collar worker who scraped her way into office management, didn’t know much of anything maritime when she applied for administrative clerk at the Port of Astoria five years ago.
But after leaving Friday as the longest-tenured member of the administrative staff, Fattori has plans of one day running for the Port Commission.
“I learned more I think in the five years at the Port than at any other job in my life,” she said.
Fattori, a native Portlander, moved to Clatsop County in 1988 with her family. She would periodically drive by the Port and once chaperoned a child on a field trip when the USS Missouri docked in 1998. But she knew essentially nothing about the agency when in 2014 she applied for administrative clerk.
“I had been looking for work for about a year,” she said. “I took a chance. I did not believe I would get into the Port, but they called.”
Fattori has spent time in restaurants, sewing factories, retail stories and other jobs to support her family, but wanted to work in offices. She was on state assistance when she moved to the coast, qualifying her for the Jobs Opportunity and Basic Skills training program, where she learned accounting and was eventually hired to do billing for a local company.
Her proudest moment at the Port came less than two months after being hired when Mike Weston, a former staffer who worked his way up to interim executive director, elevated her to be his executive assistant. In that role, she has served as a liaison between the Port Commission and the executive director, while making sure the agency follows public meetings law.
“I think transparency is important,” she said. “I feel everyone needs to know what’s going on.”
Fattori has lasted through three executive directors, including a short stint under Weston, nearly five years under Jim Knight and her last couple of months under Will Isom, who was appointed to lead the agency after Knight’s resignation in June.
The Port is the longest — and the favorite — installment of Fattori’s career. But with a project to digitize many of the Port’s documents back to the agency’s founding in 1915 largely wrapped up, she said she didn’t feel as needed in the office. Her next stop is managing the business office of a local senior assisted living community.
Fattori said she isn’t done with the Port yet, though, with intentions of one day running for a seat on the Port Commission.
“When I first started, I decided within 15 years I’d be on the commission,” she said. “I’m five years in, so maybe in 10 years.”