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Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Thought Leader to Join Executive Leadership Team at King County Housing Authority

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KEES celebrates King County Housing Authority (KCHA), the largest affordable housing provider in the Pacific Northwest, as it announces its first-ever hire for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.  

Scarleth Lever Ortiz, Urban Planner and Public Policy professional, will bring the wealth of her experience and expertise to the newly created role of Senior Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I) at KCHA. Lever Ortiz comes to KCHA from the Chicago Housing Authority, where, as the 2014 Founding Director of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, she established a wide range of programs and activities aimed to increase cultural competency, collaboration, and access – particularly among hard-to-reach-populations. As CHA’s first Racial Equity Liaison to the City of Chicago’s Racial Equity Core Team, Lever Ortiz provided agency-wide training opportunities to build core competencies within the context of housing on concepts of racial and social equity, which included but were not limited to facilitating candid conversations aimed at building racial healing. 

“As we continue to heal from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic during a time of racial reckoning, I could not have asked for a better opportunity to continue the quest for racial justice than by joining KCHA. I am particularly excited about serving alongside my new colleagues who are known as national trailblazers in the EDI field.”

-Scarleth Lever Ortiz 

Lever Ortiz joined CHA from the city of Chicago’s First Ward Office where she served as Aldermanic Aide and Director of Legislative Affairs. She is a first-generation immigrant from Mexico City who earned a BA in Global Studies from the University of Minnesota and a MA in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She will be relocating to the Pacific Northwest with her husband and rescue dog. King County Housing Authority retained KEES as its executive search partner in 2002 for multiple roles. Lever was chosen as the leader with the most experience among national candidates with expertise in Public Housing as well as general EDI leadership.

“Scarleth is a dynamic, experienced leader and we are thrilled to welcome her to KCHA. She joins us after more than a decade working with low-income housing and social impact programs and brings to our team a deep level of experience in addressing issues of racial equity and justice. She will help link and amplify efforts currently underway and move us to the next level on our journey as an anti-racist organization.”

-Stephen Norman, Executive Director, King County Housing Authority

“From our first interaction, Scarleth stood out. She came from within the public housing sector, is a community leader on boards, coalitions, and groups, and is a respected voice in public forums. Stephen Norman and KCHAs REDI team tasked KEES with finding the best of the best, and that clearly is Scarleth. Her hire enhances not only the whole of King County, but the voice for EDI principles throughout public housing authorities everywhere. Dynamic and diverse, yes, that is Scarleth!”

 Heather Eddy, President and CEO, KEES

KEES (formerly Alford Executive Search) is a nonprofit executive search firm that builds diverse teams and dynamic leaders in the nonprofit and public entity sectors. A woman owned and operated firm, KEES offers a full array of nonprofit consulting services including executive search, leadership development, interim staffing, and HR support. For more information, please visit

King County Housing Authority (KCHA), an independent municipal corporation established under Washington state law, assists about 22,500 households in the Seattle metropolitan region on a daily basis. The Authority administers rental housing assistance, develops and manages affordable housing and works closely with community stakeholders to address local priorities such as ending homelessness, improving educational outcomes for the region’s low-income youth and assuring that disabled and elderly households can live with dignity. 


Jamie Sheffler –