Senator Betsy Johnson

Senator Betsy Johnson

The 2015 OLC keynote speaker will be State Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose). She will open up the conference by addressing the crowd Thursday morning, February 19.

Betsy is beginning her third term in the Oregon Senate in the District 16 position. Betsy’s family has a history steeped in politics. Her father, the late Sam Johnson, was a member of the House of Representatives from Redmond, Ore., and her mother, Becky Johnson, served on numerous State Boards, including the State Board of Higher Education and the Teachers Standards and Practices Commission.

Business Background
Betsy received her undergraduate degree in History from Carleton College and her Law degree from the Northwestern School of Law, Lewis & Clark College.  A licensed commercial pilot of both fixed and rotor-wing aircraft, she founded Transwestern Helicopters, Inc., in 1978. The helicopter division of the firm was sold in 1993 and the company, now known as Transwestern Aviation, Inc., is managed by her husband, John Helm.

In September 1993, Betsy was selected as Manager of the Aeronautics Division of the Oregon Department of Transportation, a position she held until her resignation in September 1998. During the 1999 Legislative Session she was Vice President for Legislative Affairs for the Oregon Pilots Association; she successfully championed legislation that created the Oregon Department of Aviation.

Boards and Commissions
Betsy has served on numerous local, regional and national boards and commissions, including the Oregon Health Sciences University Foundation and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, among others. She is a former Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and currently serves on a number of regional boards, such as the Board of Visitors, Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College. She also serves as the President of the Samuel S. Johnson Foundation.

Legislative Involvement
In the 2013 Legislative Session, Betsy was, once again, been appointed to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means where she has served since her first session. In addition to serving as Vice Co-Chair of the Full Ways & Means Committee, her 2013 legislative duties included vice-chair of the Transportation & Economic Development Subcommittee of Ways & Means, member of the General Government Subcommittee of Ways & Means, the Economic & Community Development Commission, State Interoperability Executive Council, Pacific Marine Fisheries Commission, Joint Emergency Board and the Joint Interim Task Force for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Her assignments make good use of her business, government and public sector experience.