BY LINDA BAKER
Sean Robbins, CEO of Greater Portland Inc., has been on the job just over a year.
// Photo by Sierra Breshears
In August 2011, Sean Robbins became chief executive of Greater Portland Inc., a public-private partnership focused on increasing the vitality of the Portland-Vancouver region. Before moving to Portland, Robbins was the executive VP of Thrive, another public-private partnership in Madison, Wis. In that role, he improved the region’s access to capital, built a shared regional business plan and launched the region’s Economic Development District designation with the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Robbins, 33, also worked as senior VP of development for T. Wall Properties, a commercial real-estate firm. He holds an M.S. in urban and regional planning from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Robbins lives in Northeast Portland with his wife, Kristy, and two young sons.
THEY SAY I’M … “An old soul; pretty even-keeled; very focused, with a drive to get things done; able to maintain equilibrium despite the ups-and-downs chaos that is community development. It’s pretty rare for me to get rocked. I have a set of skills useful in knitting people together. I believe it’s fun to be goofy.”
CLOSET ROMANTIC “It’s not something I talk about at work, but I still think about walking on the beach holding hands with my wife when I’m 60. My mom wore the pants in my family, but I always saw my mother and father working through things together. They didn’t have separate lives. The last movie I watched was Crazy Stupid Love, although romantic comedies are uncharacteristic of me.”
LIFE LESSONS “I spent part of my life in Denver during adolescence, when all hell is breaking loose as a young boy. I thought my dad was out of touch, but he knew a lot more than I thought he did. It was incredibly transformative for me. I worked as a barista as a teenager and was absolutely terrible at it. I screwed up every other cup of coffee. People got so caught up in how coffee was prepared. I didn’t have much patience for it.”
HAPPINESS IS … “The unspoiled optimism of my kids; that look of genuine excitement on their faces. Making life better for people every single day. I like to get out of the house and outdoors as often and as fast as possible. We split our time 50/50 between mountains and ocean. I like to eat at different restaurants. For breakfast, Besaw’s; lunch, Red Star Tavern; and dinner, the Alameda Brewhouse because it’s kid friendly.”
THE WORK FILES “On a day-to-day basis, I listen and speak with a lot of different types of people. I get to listen [for] commonalities, and I find that really satisfying. There are opportunities to help move communities forward by helping
them shape the conversation we’re having. A comprehensive, realistic dialogue is better than vitriolic, narrow-minded banter.”