Jessica Kampfe Named Executive Director of Multnomah Defenders Inc.
MDI has named Jessica Kampfe Executive Director, effective March 11, 2021. Kampfe will be the first woman to lead a public defense organization in Multnomah County that represents people in both juvenile and adult courts. She succeeds Keith Rogers, who is retiring after leading MDI through significant growth over the past 12 years.
Established in 1982, MDI contracts with Oregon’s Public Defense Services Commission to represent indigent clients in Multnomah County Circuit Court and the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, including cases involving adult and juvenile misdemeanors and felonies, contempt matters, dependency and termination of parental rights, and civil commitment appeals.
As executive director and assistant executive director with Public Defender of Marion County (2012-2021), Kampfe grew the organization to become a trusted voice in Marion County. She is a statewide leader in public defense, having worked closely with the judiciary and legislature on numerous committees including Governor Brown’s screening panel for judicial vacancies, the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association legislative committee, the Criminal Justice Commission, and the Prison Forecast Advisory Committee. Kampfe is also known as an outstanding trial attorney (2006 to present) representing clients accused of murder and major felonies including Ballot Measure 11 cases. She got her start in public defense with Metropolitan Public Defender (2006-2009) where she handled misdemeanor and minor felony cases in Washington and Multnomah Counties, providing representation for diverse clients including clients who were not US citizens.
The MDI Hiring Committee included MDI board members, a cross-section of staff, and community partners. “Jessica impressed us with her deep knowledge and experience in public defense, her commitment to racial justice, and her proven track record as a leader and a manager,” said Janis Puracal, the MDI Board Member who chaired the Committee.
“I am honored to serve as MDI’s next executive director,” Kampfe said, adding, “I have long admired MDI and appreciate it’s reputation for providing a zealous defense for those who are most vulnerable in our criminal defense and juvenile justice systems. I am excited about the potential for working with the MDI team including state level participation in criminal justice reform conversations.”
During the past decade, MDI grew from a small office focused primarily on misdemeanors to the second largest public defender organization in the state including the addition of an East County office, murder representation capability, a support enforcement contempt contract, and an expanded presence in Multnomah County treatment courts. MDI also recently joined the Parent Child Representation Program (PCRP), which provides juveniles with high quality legal representation, client advocacy and support.
Board President Michael Rose said, “Oregon’s landscape for public defense is rapidly changing and we are confident in Jessica’s ability to lead our organization and collaborate more broadly for systemic change. She is the ideal person to take MDI forward, building on the excellent leadership provided by Keith Rogers.”