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Working for You: Hillsboro's Tami Cockeram, Community Services Manager
Get to know Hillsboro's Community Services Manager Tami Cockeram!
When kids ask what I do, I tell them I connect people and bring them together to make the community better.
Years you've worked for Hillsboro:
Where have you lived?
I’m a born-and-raised Oregonian who grew up in Vale, a small town of 1,300 people in eastern Oregon. After high school, I took out a $300 bank loan and moved to Portland in 1981, when the population was 250,000. I had no idea what I would do, but I knew I couldn’t return to Vale.
What is your most memorable former job?
During the summer of my sophomore year in high school, I worked for the State of Oregon on the Youth Litter Patrol. The State sent four high school girls out in the middle of nowhere to pick up litter on the side of highways throughout rural eastern Oregon!
We would leave at 7 am, be out all day in the hot summer sun, and return at 4 pm. We had to battle rattlesnakes, scorpions, lizards, and lots and lots of cows. It all seemed pretty normal at the time. Looking back with a Risk Manager’s perspective, I’m not sure this was a good combination: teenagers, a car, being in the middle of nowhere, and being without supervision.
What led you to work for the City of Hillsboro?
I was working in the Risk Management Department for Washington County when the City of Hillsboro advertised the hiring of its first Risk Manager. I was fortunate to serve as the City’s Risk Manager for nine years.
In 2015, I moved into the newly created Community Services Manager position. I am now doing my “heart’s work” in the areas of social justice and homelessness.
What is the most inspiring part of your job?
Working with so many individuals who are committed every day to their job, this organization, and the community we serve.
How does your job directly benefit Hillsboro community members?
I work a lot with our homeless community members and the nonprofits that provide services to them. If I see or hear of someone in need, I talk with them and direct them to services they may lack or didn’t know existed. It could be clothing, food, shelter, rental assistance, or someone to talk to.
I try to know our homeless community and listen to what they need to get through the day or to get closer to housing. This helps me better understand where service gaps are and how the City can close those gaps through funding and other means of support.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
When a nonprofit asks me if I can help a single mother of four children find resources to help pay their rent to avoid being evicted. I’m often able to help make this happen with a few phone calls to our community partners. A big part of this job is making connections and developing relationships in our community with both service providers and the faith community. I do my work in hopes that it makes a difference in people’s lives.
I started Camp Eagle, a summer camp for kids ages 7–12. The kids are either homeless or their families struggle with housing instability, which typically means they live in a shelter. The camp provides care-free days for these campers to meet new friends, play, and enjoy an experience they may not otherwise have during the summer.
Each camper also gets a brand new pair of shoes, which is sometimes a highlight for many of these kiddos. The smiles are priceless and they make the work that goes into this camp all worth it. I will always be most proud of Camp Eagle and the support it gets from the City and community partners.
What do you do for fun?
I love to run trails and spend summer days hiking mountains in the Columbia Gorge.
What advice would you share with Hillsboro residents?
Find a way to engage and connect with our community. Introduce yourself to your neighbors, and then introduce your neighbors to each other. This is how a community grows, and you begin to feel a part of something bigger.
What others say about Tami:
“Tami is an engaging mentor, perceptive colleague, and driven leader. She demonstrates those qualities daily as she advocates to uplift all members of our community, especially those who often have little voice. Tami is committed to and passionate about elevating the well-being of all people. Our organization and community are better for having her as our Community Services Manager.”
– Simone Brooks, Assistant City Manager
Read other Working for You profiles of Hillsboro's employees: