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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

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Bureau’s demographer performs invaluable research and analysis

Born on the Malabar Coast in the southwest region of India and raised in New Delhi, BPS’ Uma Krishnan cherishes her youth in what she describes as the “most
wonderful urban place to grow up; 8-minute neighborhoods (forget 20-minutes!), good schools, a reliable bus system, affordable housing and low humidity with bearable summers.”


Uma attended school six days a week (!) and learned English by reading Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekov, Pushkin and others. Then she went to university (take a deep breath).

With a Ph.D. in Urban Planning & Policy Development from Rutgers University, a Masters in Public Administration from Cleveland State University, a B.S. in Economics from Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences (BITS), Uma assists her colleagues and the community with her trademark courtesy and friendly nature.

She loves working in the public sector, but her first job was with Central Electronic Engineering Research Institute in Pilani, India. “My job was to take science to the neighboring villages to make their lives easier.”

From there she began her career in public service with the Central Government in India, followed by the New Jersey Commerce and Economic Growth Commission as a research specialist, and then the County of Santa Barbara, Calif., as a housing specialist.

She became the City of Portland’s demographer in 2006. Her work has contributed to the Portland Plan, the Comprehensive Plan, and the Housing Bureau’s strategic plan. She has also worked on the Limited Tax Abatement affordable housing programs and with the Auditor’s Office on reports like the Service Efforts and Accomplishments reports. Recently, her expertise has been sought to provide data on gentrification and displacement as well as the Housing and Transportation Cost Burden study.

Uma’s analytical assistance has proven invaluable for sustainability program surveys, and energy assistance, solid waste and the sustainable food programs. You can also find her staffing Fix-It-Fairs.

“It is this variety of work and experiences that I find very rewarding,” she says. “The efforts of multiple bureaus to use demographic and housing data to address inequities experienced by communities of color and embrace increasing diversity is a particularly exciting time for me.”

About her home life, Uma jokes that she has “had to forego the pleasure of holding a TV remote in exchange for the ultimate satisfaction of living with men from three different generations:  father/father-in-law, husband and son.”