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January 20, 2011 at 6:48 PM

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Seattle neighborhoods department gets interim director

Posted by Lynn Thompson

In a reprise of a role she played once before, Bernadette (Bernie) Matsuno, will serve as interim director of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods until Mayor Mike McGinn selects a permanent replacement.

Earlier this month, McGinn announced he wouldn't be renewing the contract of Stella Chao, who was named director in November 2006 by then-Mayor Greg Nickels.

Chao replaced Yvonne Sanchez, who left in February 2006, after four years.

Matsuno first served as interim chief between Sanchez and Chao.

Matsuno previously worked with Jim Diers, the popular Neighborhoods director who was let go when Nickels took office in 2002. She helped create the department's Matching Fund program, which provides city money for neighborhood projects such as parks, playgrounds and landmark artwork such as the Fremont Troll and the China Gate in the International District.

Residents provide the match through volunteer labor, donated supplies and professional services.

In a statement released Friday by the city, Matsuno said she is most proud of developing a Race Relations and Social Justice Fund and then making it a permanent part of the Neighborhood Matching Fund.

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