Barbara Roberts is Oregon’s first and so far only woman governor. In addition to what she accomplished in her time at Mahonia Hall — like securing federal waivers and funding for the Oregon Health Plan, boosting affordable housing and getting more kids into Head Start — she’s also known for her advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities. I’ll never forget something she told me in an interview about an Americans with Disabilities Act case. She said disability rights were, or should be, a universal issue: “We’re all just one accident away from being disabled.”
In fact, Roberts started her remarkable career in Oregon politics as an unpaid advocate for disabled children. (One of her two sons, Mike, has autism.) Since then, she’s held a variety of elected offices, from the Parkrose School Board and the Multnomah County Commission to State Representative, Secretary of State and Governor. For more than a decade, she’s been part of PSU’s Hatfield School of Government, and most recently jumped into Portland’s regional government, filling a temporary vacancy on the Metro Council.
Her new memoir, Up the Capitol Steps, she recounts her personal background and the long arc of her political career, including some key turning points and some of the challenges she faced as a woman in politics.
Roberts will appear at Portland State University this Sunday for the book’s official launch.
What questions would you like to ask Barbara Roberts?