Political pioneer Vera Katz had a long, important history with state’s largest college


PCC / News / December 2017 /

Political pioneer Vera Katz had a long, important history with state’s largest college

Photos and Story by James Hill |

Vera Katz escaped the Nazis as a child and came to America on a Greek steamship, speaking only French and Russian. Despite early hurdles, she would go on to become Oregon’s first woman speaker of the house and Portland’s longest-serving woman mayor.
On Dec. 11, Katz passed away. She was 84.
Vera Katz.
“She also showered me with unconditional love,” wrote her son Jesse on Twitter.
Katz served three terms between 1993 and 2004 as mayor and was in the Oregon House of Representatives for 20 years before that. From 1982-91, Katz played an integral part in the history of Portland Community College as she served as the first director of development and executive secretary for the newly established foundation, helping to create the organization in 1984, and later shaped PCC’s Office of Public Affairs.  
“Vera had long-standing and intimate ties to Portland Community College,” said PCC President Mark Mitsui. “In the early 1970s, as a junior legislator, she cut her political teeth in a subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee by sparring with founding PCC President Amo DeBernardis concerning state aid and the expansion of the college to Rock Creek. Vera would ultimately become one of PCC’s staunchest allies and supporters. She was named a part-time director of Development for the college in 1981 and was later appointed as full-time director and became the first executive director of the Portland Community College Foundation. Vera Katz was, quite literally, the founder of our Foundation.”
During her tenure, the PCC Foundation awarded almost 750 scholarships to PCC students through private donations, corporate grants and bequest gifts. Katz and the foundation team received the first Tektronix Foundation award ever given to a community college, and their fundraising efforts were also honored …

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