The Lower Columbia Hispanic Council is searching for a new executive director.

Jorge Gutierrez accepted a new job in Seattle after six years with the organization. He stepped down in July.

Maritza Romero has been named interim executive director during the transition. She has been with the council since 2015 and has managed family engagement, early learning and K-12.

“We have grown from a team of two working in a very small office space at the Duncan Law Building. Thanks to Jorge’s vision and work, we now have a fully-equipped team and a great new office space,” Romero said in a statement. “I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to take on the role as the interim executive director and lead the team in this transition.”

The Lower Columbia Hispanic Council moved to the new location in the Miller-Jeffers Building on Duane Street in May.

Gutierrez formed an advisory committee, La Voz de la Comunidad — The Voice of the Community — in 2015 to address the issue of Hispanic families being underrepresented in decision-making processes that affect their overall health. The committee has over 30 active members and volunteers.

“We have embraced the importance of understanding Hispanic health, social and economic inequities and address those issues by elevating the voices of our people,” Fernando Rodriguez, the council’s president, wrote in a statement.

Gutierrez also shifted the council’s work from being primarily service-oriented to taking an upstream approach when building programs and services.

“We don’t have the words to express our gratitude to Jorge’s dedication and accomplishments and he will be truly missed,” Rodriguez said. “We are also thankful for our local supporters and volunteers that have donated their time and funds toward our work.”

Nicole Bales is a reporter for The Astorian, covering police, courts and county government. Contact her at 971-704-1724 or nbales@dailyastorian.com.

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