Announcing Our New Executive Director

Our Board of Directors is delighted to announce that C.J. Opperthauser (pronouns: he/him/his) has been hired as the new Executive Director of Friends of Congress Square Park. C.J. started (remotely) at the beginning of the new year.

C.J. will be moving to Portland from Providence, Rhode Island, where he’s spent the past 6 years being heavily involved in the fields of placemaking, active transportation, and land use. After coordinating volunteers with WaterFire Providence, the famed art installation and beloved summertime event, he managed Grow Smart Rhode Island’s training program, was a CityWorks Fellow with DownCity Design, served as Events Chair on the board of directors of the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition, was a Programs Committee member of the Roger Williams Park Conservancy, and founded the pedestrian advocacy group WalkPVD. Through these roles, C.J. has served as a constant voice for safer, more vibrant, and more equitable public spaces and streets across the state.

C.J. grew up in Michigan and studied poetry at Central Michigan University, where he created and hosted an outdoor reading series, and Miami University in Ohio, where he also taught writing. His chapbook Cloud the Shape of Bedroom was published in 2016 by Tree Light Books, and he is a co-editor of the online literary publication Threadcount Magazine. While in Providence, C.J. helped execute many local public events, including the Providence Flea, Winter Lights Market, NecronomiCon, Jane’s Walk Providence, and Tour de Tentacle.

“I’ve visited Portland many times, and I’ve been consistently in awe of the array of dynamic, active public spaces peppered throughout the city,” C.J. says. “Congress Square Park has always been a favorite people-watching perch and spot to sip ridiculously good coffee, and I can’t overstate how thrilled and honored I am to be joining a team which has done so much good for the urban fabric of Portland and helped to cultivate community in this beloved public space. It’s truly a dream come true. I look forward to bringing a fresh perspective to the organization and enhancing our sustainability so that we can continue to provide this community with a vibrant place to enjoy the arts, grab a bite, and simply be together.”

Click here to write a note to C.J.