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Rogue Retreat hires new executive director

Hope Village in Medford, a 34-bed tiny home community opened in 2017.
Rogue Retreat
Hope Village in Medford, a 34-bed tiny home community opened in 2017.

The Rogue Valley’s largest homeless services provider has hired a new executive director. The announcement comes after significant turmoil within the organization.

Rogue Retreat announced that Sam Engel will take over operations from an interim team who have been managing the non-profit after the founder was fired last August for poor financial management.

Engel has been working in the social services sector in the Rogue Valley since 2006.

Most recently, he worked at Southern Oregon insurer AllCare Health, where he partnered with Rogue Retreat on health care and homelessness issues.

“One of my immediate goals is to ensure that we have the stable funding that we need, not only to address our day-to-day operations in those core services, but also be able to turn an eye towards growth and change," he said.

Rogue Retreat had a $2 million dollar budget shortfall coming into 2023. In addressing this, Interim Executive Director Bill Ihle scaled back projects like renovating a Medford hotel for homeless housing and working with wildfire survivors. Going forward, the non-profit will focus on priorities such as homeless shelters and case management.

Engel said listening to the needs of the staff at Rogue Retreat is going to be important. He wants to ensure the organization projects stability through this dramatic change.

“Rogue Retreat was very stable. They had Chad McComas as the leader from 1998 up until 2022," said Engel. "And then having two folks come into leadership in less than a year is a lot of change for an organization that hasn’t had a lot of leadership change. So that’s a level of anxiety that internally we have to recognize.”

Engel will receive support from the Interim Executive Director Ihle, who’ll be leaving Rogue Retreat at the end of next month.

Roman Battaglia is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the JPR newsroom.