Avel Gordley discusses memoir of her life as an Oregon activist, legislator and public servant

program: 
More Talk Radio
program date: 
Mon, 03/21/2011

Hosts Celeste Carey and Cecil Prescod speak with former Oregon State Senator Avel Gordley about her new memoir Remembering the Power of Words: The Life of an Oregon Activist, Legislator and Public Servant

Avel Louise Gordly was elected to the Oregon State Senate in 1996, after she had served three terms in the House of Representatives, running on both Democratic and Republican ballots in each election. Throughout her career, she always insisted that the legislative process belongs to the People,  that it be open and transparent to constituents from every place in Oregon.

A native of Portland, daughter of a Union Pacific Pullman porter and a working mother active in women's organizations, Avel Louise Gordly is the first African-American woman elected to the Oregon Senate in the history of the state.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in the Administration of Justice from Portland State University and completed the Program for Senior Executives at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

She is a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum and has a long professional career including service as an Adult Parole and Probation Officer for the State of Oregon Corrections Division; as Director of Youth Services for the Urban League of Portland; as Community Liaison for the Multnomah County Health Department, where she worked on the County's emergency preparedness and health disparity issues.

Avel's career as a community leader and public servant includes Program Director of the House of Umoja, providing services to gang-impacted youth and families, and as Executive Director of the American Friends Service Committee, Portland office.

Avel is currently an Associate Professor in the Black Studies Department, Portland State University, where she has developed and teaches a course on Black leadership, public policy and community development.

Her memoir, “Remembering the Power of Words: The Life of an Oregon Activist, Legislator and Public Servant” was just published by the Oregon State University Press.

Throughout her career in public service, Avel has worked for environmental, economic and social justice; for family wage jobs in environmentally sound workplaces, for communities free of hate and full of diversity.

Senator Gordly is a recognized champion of support for mental health. She is a founder of the African American Mental Health Commission, and of the Oregon Mental Health Caucus. Her tireless efforts to address the stigma of mental illnesses, and as an advocate for mental health treatment played a key role in the passage of Senate Bill 1 (2005), mental health parity.

She continues to advocate for appropriate mental health treatment, the removal of the stigma associated with mental illness which acts as a barrier to effective treatment, and for the replacement of the Oregon State Hospital and the establishment of a statewide community-based treatment infrastructure as a top priority.

 

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