Oregon Utility Notification Center names its first Executive Director. Veteran communications professional Josh Thomas joined the OUNC May 17, 2021.

(PORTLAND, Ore., May 2021) — Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC), also known as Oregon 811, is pleased to announce that after a yearlong search, Josh Thomas has been named the notification center’s first-ever executive director.

“It has been a long-awaited appointment for our agency, and we are excited to bring Josh onboard,” said Micah Brown, OUNC board chairman. “With Josh’s background and experience, we look to ensure future success in delivering the 811 message”

Thomas began his new role May 17, 2021. He comes to OUNC with nearly 25 years of experience in public relations and organizational representation. He has held lead communications roles within the Oregon Legislature, municipal government, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Port of Portland. Most recently, he has represented the Oregon dairy industry for the past six years.

Thomas holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Portland State University, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. His service on boards and committees has included an art festival, university bookstore, leadership training series, community events, state government, and organizations such as the American Association of Port Authorities, American Cancer Society and the Public Relations Society of America.

In this newly created role, Thomas will lead the 20-member OUNC board of directors, all of whom represent an industry segment and are appointed by the governor for a four-year term. The board is tasked with administering the OUNC and carrying out a variety of public relations and educational programs focused on spreading the “dig safely” damage prevention message.

“I am a firm believer that the best way to solve a problem is to prevent it—and I see great potential with the robust data we can use to effectively target our efforts,” said Thomas. “As the first executive director for the Oregon Utility Notification Center, I am committed to preventing underground utility damage and injuries through effective training, planning and communications.”

“Josh Thomas joining the OUNC as its first Executive Director is a major milestone for the OUNC,” said Ryan Sandhu, OUNC board member and chair of the organization’s executive director selection committee. “Josh has the experience and skill set to help the OUNC continue to fulfil its damage prevention mission and help lead the agency into the next round of advances in the damage prevention industry.”

Thomas lives in Tigard, where he is the Scoutmaster for Troop 423. His oldest son is an Eagle Scout and a student at Oregon State University; his youngest son plays baseball for Tigard High School. His wife, Laurie, runs a small family business as a structural engineer.