Kate Brown began her career in the Oregon Legislature in 1991. After serving two terms in the House of Representatives, Kate was elected to the Senate in 1996, representing portions of Northeast and Southeast Portland and Milwaukie. In 1998, Senator Brown was elected Democratic Leader. Senator Brown worked for over eight years to lead the Senate Democrats from a 10-20 minority to an 18-12 majority.
When Senate Democrats took control in 2004, Brown was selected by her caucus to serve as Oregon’s first woman Senate Majority Leader.
After spending most of her childhood in Minnesota, Senator Brown earned a B.A. in Environmental Conservation with a certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder. After college, she went on to earn her law degree and Certificate in Environmental Law from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College. Professionally, Senator Brown has taught at Portland State University, and practiced family and juvenile law. During 2006 Senator Brown will be working for the Juvenile Rights Project.
Throughout her career, Kate has been praised for her ability to thoughtfully consider difficult issues and find the consensus needed to move the state forward. Senator Brown took the lead in negotiating the historic “Memorandum of Understanding,” which facilitated a bi-partisan power –sharing arrangement in the evenly divided 2003 Senate, and she was instrumental in negotiating the end of session policy and budget package.
In the 2005 legislative session, Brown led successful efforts to make Oregon’s state government open and accessible by taking legislative committee meetings to communities around the state, ensuring funding for a comprehensive review of Oregon’s ethics laws, and spearheading legislation creating a searchable online database of campaign contributions and expenditures, which The Oregonian called the best campaign finance disclosure law in the country.
Additionally, Brown led the Senate Democrats in their efforts to reduce the skyrocketing costs of health care, ensure that Oregon’s education dollars reach the classroom, and protect Oregon’s uniquely livable communities.
Recent awards and distinctions for Senator Brown include the National Public and Community Service Award from the American Mental Health Counselors Association and being elected Chair of the Council of State Governments West.
Previous awards for Senator Brown include the "Profiles in Courage" Award from Basic Rights Oregon, Legislator of the Year Award from the Oregon Psychological Association, the award for Outstanding Achievement by the Oregon Family Support Network, and the Woman of Achievement Award from the Oregon Commission for Women.
In her time away from the Capitol, Kate enjoys horseback riding and yoga, as well as skiing and hiking around the Northwest with her husband Dan, his children Dylan and Jessie, and the family’s black lab Lili.