Portia has spent her life and career helping people in the new 13th Congressional District. As a lifelong resident of the district, she is excited to earn the support of her neighbors in Allen Park, Dearborn Heights, Detroit, Ecorse, Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe Shores, Grosse Pointe Woods, Harper Woods, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Lincoln Park, Melvindale, Romulus, Southgate, Taylor, Wayne and Wyandotte for her bid to serve as their Congresswoman.
Born and raised in Northwest Detroit, Portia is the daughter of Dalton and Pearl Roberson, who came to Detroit in the 1960s in search of opportunity. After marrying in 1967, they committed themselves to careers that were focused on public service. Dalton Roberson had a long and successful career as a circuit court judge. Pearl Roberson was a devoted school social worker and administrator. Both spent their careers investing in the lives of vulnerable people. Portia’s parents were grounded yet aspirational, encouraging Portia and her brother Dalton Roberson Jr. to embrace these same values.
Her parents’ example of inclusivity and empathy has guided Portia in her life and career. Her father would sometimes unwind after challenging days on the bench by taking long car rides around southeast Michigan, with Portia often riding shotgun. On these rides, she became familiar with the strengths and challenges of the regional landscape.
Portia attended Detroit’s Hampton Elementary School and fondly recalls playing Dorothy in a school production of “The Wiz” in sixth grade. After graduating from middle school at Shrine of the Little Flower Catholic school, she entered the historic and academically rigorous Cass Technical High School, where she excelled. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree from the Wayne State University Law School. She was admitted to the Michigan Bar in 1994.
Portia has successfully worked in the public, private and non-profit sectors, but a commitment to serving others has been a constant in her career. Among her professional accomplishments, Portia is exceptionally proud of her appointment to serve as the Director of the Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison by President Barack Obama. She later returned to her hometown to serve as Detroit Lead for the White House Domestic Policy Office’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative, where she worked to find and secure federal resources for the City of Detroit. Her leadership secured HUD dollars that enabled the city to demolish the empty Brewster-Douglass projects and launch a texting service to help city bus passengers get real-time information about bus arrivals.
Her ability to assess a need and identify resources to address that need has been the cornerstone of her success. She understands that even though the 13th District is diverse, its people have shared aspirations for access to opportunity and prosperity, quality educational options for children and quality health care and safety for the senior citizens in their communities.
Portia currently serves as the President and CEO of a large non-profit that provides workforce training, a food for seniors’ program, and early learning/Head Start for southeast Michigan. In this role, Portia has continued to hone her skills and expand her resource base. This organization has afforded her the opportunity to gain a clearer vision of the needs of the community and find ways to provide direct services to address those needs.
She is the former Chair of the Detroit Police and Fire Pension Board and is currently the Chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. Portia is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.
Portia wants to continue her commitment to service by leveraging her ability to connect people to federal resources as the 13th District’s Congresswoman.