Loretta Smith is a public servant, small business owner, and single mom who has dedicated her life to building pathways to opportunity.
The oldest of three, Loretta split her childhood between Grand Rapids, MI and Portland, OR, working hard in and out of school as she balanced her studies, part-time jobs, and athletics. Her mother, a union auto worker and Head Start teaching assistant, and grandmother instilled in Loretta the importance of service and giving back to the community. Loretta’s father worked at a steel mill and was an accomplished boxer. As a result of injuries, he battled chronic pain throughout his life and later suffered from addiction. Thanks to her supportive grandparents and aunts who stepped in to help when she had no place of her own, Loretta was the first in her family to graduate from college, earning a degree from Oregon State.
After college, Loretta worked her way up on the staff of U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and served Oregonians for over two decades. Never losing sight of her humble upbringing, she advocated for smart investments with the power to impact daily lives, successfully bringing federal dollars to Portland for early childhood education and other key programs.
In 2011, Loretta made history as the second Black person to serve on the Multnomah County Commission in its 167-year history. She earned a reputation as an effective, results-oriented voice for the community, expanding programs to keep seniors in their homes and creating thousands of jobs for underserved young people. Recognized as a leading advocate for children, the Obama White House invited Loretta to DC to help honor local youth as part of the SummerWorks program.
In her first year on the Commission, Loretta battled for her life, undergoing emergency surgery for a grapefruit-sized tumor causing bleeding on her brain. That harrowing fight only reaffirmed her belief that access to quality, affordable health care should be a right, not a privilege, and she introduced a Medicare-for-All resolution at the county level. Following her two terms on the Commission, Loretta launched a small business helping social justice and education advocates build coalitions and create healthier, safer communities. Just as she’s overcome great obstacles and centered her career on fighting for the vulnerable, Loretta is running for Congress to close the opportunity gap and fight for the change our community so desperately deserves.