Announcing Charles “Bud” Garrison as Animal Services Project Manager

After a competitive recruitment process, Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS) has hired Charles “Bud” Garrison as a Project Manager to develop and implement a work plan to address issues raised by the Multnomah County Auditor, Chair Jessica Vega Pederson’s official review of MCAS, and community feedback.

While many changes have been made by MCAS leadership and staff throughout the year, the scope of recommendations calls for a project manager with a singular focus to facilitate the effective implementation of action items with county leadership and MCAS leadership, staff and key stakeholders. Garrison will play a key role to implement process improvements, transparency and communications measures, and accountability at all levels needed to bring Multnomah County Animal Services into the future.

Much of Garrison’s professional career is focused on process improvement and project management for Healthcare Information systems. Garrison’s perspectives in the healthcare field are also relevant to animal care in many ways. For example, current staffing challenges in healthcare, the impact on staff and patient care capacity, and potential solutions parallel many similar issues being experienced in the veterinary and animal sheltering world.

Garrison is also an MCAS volunteer of over ten years, and has extensive knowledge and a developed perspective of the shelter’s internal systems and challenges. Garrison has established relationships and rapport with many stakeholders, including volunteers and staff, giving him an advantage to begin the work at hand.

“Bud has exactly the right combination of professional and volunteer experience to work with our Division to continue the development and change efforts that have begun in the past year,” said Erin Grahek, MCAS Director. “Among his many qualifications, he is an experienced project manager and has training in Reflective Leadership, LEAN leader, Fear Free Shelter modules, and Dogs Playing for Life Shelter Play group training. He has an inside track on the learning curve needed to tackle the big issues MCAS needs to address. I am excited to partner with Bud in this new capacity.”

Professional Background

Bud Garrison was trained as a Combat Medic and Surgical Technician in the U.S. Army Reserve. He later worked as an EMT and Surgical Technician for over eight (8) years in a Level 1 Trauma Center.

Garrison earned a bachelor's degree in Business Management and a master’s in Healthcare administration. He worked at multiple Silicon Valley startups, and shifted his focus to IT Systems and Healthcare. “I felt that I could do more for patients and staff working in the oncoming computerization of healthcare than to remain as a clinician providing quality care,” Garrison says.

Since 2007, Garrison has served in multiple Director, Project Management, and Instructor roles at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). Garrison specialized in clinical workflow development, process improvement, reorganization, and modernization for Informatics and Health Information Services. He worked with diverse teams- from housekeeping staff to providers- to work through pain points, meet their needs, and effectively implement modern systems and best practices.

“Even though my specialty was in IT systems, the most important aspect of my work was to recognize the human needs of hundreds of stakeholders,” Garrison said about his time at OHSU. “With everyone involved, I’d sit down to understand the work that they were doing and the impact of changes on their daily lives. We worked together to address their goals, and were transparent about the process. Solutions needed to meet the needs of all stakeholders, and that sometimes meant a single solution wouldn’t work for everyone, and multiple options were needed.”

Volunteer Background

Bud Garrison met his spouse, Danni, while volunteering at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA. After moving to Portland, Danni began volunteering at MCAS in 2011, and Bud followed.

Garrison has volunteered as a dog walker, outreach ambassador, Pitties in Pink Float participant, dog foster, and volunteer dog mentor. He would also feature adoptable pets on KOIN’s Second Chance Pets program, arriving at the shelter before dawn, transporting animals to the studio, and often handling and promoting the pets on camera.

Garrison was the recipient of the Multnomah County 2015 Volunteer Award for his exceptional service and contributions to the welfare of animals at MCAS.

After taking a break from volunteering in 2019 to focus on personal and professional projects in real-estate and teaching, Garrison returned as a volunteer at MCAS helping with virtual adoptions, and the checkout and pickup process. He helped document the process and train other volunteers.

Garrison answered the call for help when MCAS reopened for in person adoptions in January 2023, and assisted in documenting the adoption info desk process along with MCAS staff and Multnomah County Emergency Management staff, and again trained new volunteers in that role. He continued to pick up shifts at the info desk as needed.

Next Steps

Bud Garrison started in his official role on August 1, 2023. His first order of business is to combine all the input that MCAS received from community feedback, audits, the review, and consulting engagements, and develop it into a prioritized strategic work plan - which will be Phase 3 of Chair Jessica Vega Pederson’s Official Review of Animals Services.

I’ve always been impressed by MCAS - the mission and what the agency has been able to do with what was available. The outcomes achieved as a municipal shelter are pretty impressive. We know that there are and have been significant cultural issues, divides between staff and volunteers, and major operational challenges that we need to work through.   From my perspective, there have been so many pieces that have changed. I notice that the leadership is much more inclusive and transparent. There is a lot of potential with the people that are here and their backgrounds. Having Erin here directing the agency- knowing the ins and outs of getting things done in the county as a seasoned employee. The environment feels more welcoming for volunteers - I noticed it the minute I walked back in the door when staff greeted me!   All the press that came out in the last year raised visibility for MCAS with the Multnomah County board of commissioners and the public- that has opened up the budget and opportunities for change, and we need to keep our eyes on the prize of improving systems to care for the animals and serve the public. I’m excited to be a part of the changes to come.

Charles "Bud" Garrison

Welcome, Bud, and thank you for your service.

Staff Spotlight
Bud Garrison with a dog
Bud Garrison
Bud Garrison in Pitties in Pink costume
Bud Garrison at the Pitties in Pink Float in 2016, with Riley (Curious), his first dog adopted from MCAS.
Bud featuring a pet on KOIN Second Chance Pets with Sally Showman
Bud featuring Puddles the dog on KOIN Second Chance Pets with Sally Showman
Bud at an adoption outreach event
Bud with Numar the dog at an adoption outreach day at Petsmart Gresham