Oregon Governor Kate Brown ’85 Delivers Address
Members of the Class of 2017 were celebrated by family, friends, faculty, and staff at the law school commencement ceremony on May 27. Oregon Governor Katherine “Kate” Brown JD ’85 was the featured speaker.
Brown is serving her second term as the governor of Oregon. The 38th person to hold that office, she is the second woman elected to lead the state.
Brown entered public service in 1991, when she was appointed to the Oregon House of Representatives. She was elected to the Oregon State Senate in 1996. In 2004, she became the first woman in Oregon history to serve as Senate Majority Leader.
After 17 years in the legislature, Brown was voted Oregon’s Secretary of State in 2008. Much of her work while in that office focused on increasing government transparency, accountability, and efficiency, and on improving family and medical leave. She also continued her longtime advocacy on behalf of women’s health, civil rights, and marriage equality.
Brown was elevated to the governor’s seat on February 18, 2015, following the unexpected resignation of John Kitzhaber. Shortly thereafter, she led the successful effort to pass a package of ethics reforms. In November 2016, she won a special election to remain governor.
Prior to her career as an elected official, Brown practiced juvenile and family law, taught at Portland State University, worked with the Juvenile Rights Project, and cofounded the Oregon Women’s Health and Wellness Alliance. She has also raised two stepchildren with spouse Dan Little.
Brown grew up in Minnesota and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She initially came to Oregon to attend Lewis & Clark Law School, where she earned a JD with a certificate in environmental law. In 2010, the law school honored Brown as a Distinguished Environmental Law Graduate.