Sen. Betsy Johnson ’77 Named Distinguished Graduate

  • Senator Betsy Johnson '77

Senator Betsy Johnson ’77 (D-Scappoose) was honored as the law school’s 2018 Distinguished Graduate for her many contributions to improve Oregon communities. Over the course of her three terms in the Oregon Senate and in leadership positions on the Ways and Means Committee, Johnson has guided the legislature through many difficult issues over the years.

Introducing Johnson at the ceremony, Kerry Tymchuk of the Oregon Historical Society called her one of the state’s treasures.

Born in Bend, Johnson received her bachelor’s degree in history in 1973 from Carleton College and her law degree in 1977 from Lewis & Clark Law School. She joined the state senate in 2005 after being appointed from the Oregon House of Representatives to succeed Joan Dukes of District 16, which includes Tillamook, Astoria, Saint Helens, and Seaside. Johnson was subsequently elected to the senate seat the following year.

Other Honorees:

Professor Doug Newell received the Distinguished Honorary Graduate Award. Read more about Newell.

Michael Hsu ’11 received the Rising Star Award. Read more about Hsu.

J. Ashlee Albies ’05 received the Community Spirit Award. Read more about Albies.

Johnson has been actively involved in aviation for many years. A licensed commercial pilot of both fixed-wing and rotor-wing aircraft, she has flown in international competitions with the U.S. Women’s Helicopter Team. She founded Transwestern Helicopters, Inc. in 1978 and a decade later, as vice president for legislative affairs for the Oregon Pilots Association, she successfully championed legislation that created the Oregon Department of Aviation.

Johnson has served on numerous local, regional, and national boards and commissions, including the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation, Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, the Oregon Public Broadcasting Foundation, and the High Desert Museum. She is a member of the Board of Visitors for the law school.