Will Isom was born and raised in the Astoria area, graduating from Knappa High School before leaving to attend Oregon State University in Corvallis. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with an emphasis in accounting and a minor in exercise and sports science. Will is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant.
Post-college, Will interned at the Georgia-Pacific Wauna Mill and was later given a full-time job and promoted to lead converting analyst. He worked there for several years before moving on to be the head basketball coach at Knappa High School. In 2010, Will started at Columbia Memorial Hospital in the accounting department, working with various departments on a number of different projects. He left in early 2015 to start as the Staff Accountant at the Port of Astoria, where he was later promoted to Accounting Manager, then Finance Manager. In June 2019 the Port Commission appointed him as the Interim Director. Will received overwhelmingly positive reviews during this interim period, and the Port Commission officially named him as Executive Director in December of 2019.
As a native to Clatsop County and an established resident, Will sees the importance of the Port’s role in the area, and the impact it can have on the local economy. He appreciates the fact that the Port is an economic driver that helps to create family-wage jobs, in part because of the visions he has for his own family, and the bright future he wants to see for his children.
When asked about the job as executive director, Will talks about the challenges and the fact that “it doesn’t ever feel like the work is done.” He sees the future of the Port through a long-term scope, which he feels is a focus that has been neglected at times in the Port’s past. Using the Area of Concern 4 (AOC4) environmental clean-up as an example, Will came into the job determined to wrap up the project that had been ongoing for 20+ years. Despite having to overcome difficult obstacles in the short-term, he knows that the Port will be in a better position once a remedy is in place.
Will started in his position as executive director amid political turmoil. Not long after his official appointment, the Covid-19 pandemic began to reshape the way the Port was able to operate. Revenues took a heavy hit and quick corrections were needed, but the Port finished that year with stability and a balanced budget. Crediting the strength of his team, Will believes that “you’re only as good as your people.”
Will and his family reside just east of Astoria in Svensen. By coaching kids in sports and other activities, much of his spare time is dedicated to his family. He especially enjoys the time they make to hike or bike the local trails. In his own time, he enjoys listening to podcasts and working on various projects around the house.
In his leadership role at the Port, Will believes in his duty to serve the community. He wants to do his best to keep the public informed and encourage involvement and feedback from county residents. Speaking on behalf of all employees at the Port, he says:
“We want to hear from you. We want to know how to serve you better.”