The daughter of an educator, Jamie McLeod-Skinner’s mom told her to, “always leave a place better than you find it.” Following that advice, Jamie has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to building stronger and healthier communities. Her success is based on her ability to bring people together – across political and cultural divides – to focus on addressing our shared challenges.
Born in Wisconsin, Jamie lived in Tanzania as a child – where her mom taught at a government school and met the man who became Jamie’s dad – before they moved to southern Oregon where Jamie graduated from Ashland High School.
Jamie is an attorney, small business owner, and natural resource consultant. She serves as an elected Board Member for the Jefferson County Education Service District (ESD) and as appointed Member At Large for the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB).
Jamie studied cultural anthropology for a year at Lewis & Clark College before transferring to Arizona to study agricultural engineering, then to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where she earned a degree in civil engineering.
After working as an assistant engineer in the private sector, Jamie earned a master’s degree in Regional Planning from Cornell University. She joined her remarkable peer group, which included future Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and South African community organizer Lenyalo Motsei, to use the privilege of her education to serve others.
Later, Jamie earned a law degree from the University of Oregon, focusing on natural resources, water, and Indian law. During law school, Jamie served as co-Director for the Native American Law Student Association.
She holds leadership certificates in Senior Executives in State and Local Government from Harvard University, Government Ethics from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and the Consortium for Human Rights from Oxford University.
Jamie is a member of the Oregon State Bar, a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), and a trained mediator. She previously volunteered as a community dispute mediator.
In Tanzania, Jamie attended elementary school with Ugandan refugees fleeing Idi Amin’s regime and witnessed the terrible impact of war as well as the resiliency of the human spirit.
After graduate school, with wars raging in Bosnia and Rwanda, Jamie wanted to reduce the hardship of war and help people rebuild their lives. Military service was not an option. She came out during college, and the US military did not accept out gays and lesbians in the 1990s. Instead, she managed multimillion-dollar projects for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a humanitarian organization that works to stabilize communities and secure the peace.
In post-war Bosnia and Kosovo, she managed the reconstruction of schools and designed water and sanitation systems. When she decided to return to the US, the IRC asked Jamie to run their refugee resettlement office in Silicon Valley.
By listening to refugees’ concerns and observing the challenges they faced, Jamie adapted the self-sufficiency services to meet the cultural needs of the newly arriving refugees. She received a grant from Intel co-founder Andy Grove, who had been resettled by the IRC as a young man, to help professionals obtain recertification in their field of expertise and developed training programs for refugee and immigrant organizations to meet audit requirements and obtain funding for community support services.
Jamie’s focus on organizational effectiveness led her to work in the public sector. A proud union member, she trained department managers to implement an outcome-based management system. She later worked as a land-use planner, ensuring that projects conformed with municipal, state, and federal requirements. Her interest in water resource management and addressing climate change led her to work as an environmental planner for a regional water agency that served 2 million customers in urban and rural communities.
The pull to be closer to family was strong, and Jamie returned home to attend law school at the University of Oregon, where she focused on natural resources, water, and Indian law.
She clerked for the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the State of Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals, and the Klamath County Circuit Court.
She was hired to serve as City Manager in Phoenix, Oregon, the day before the 2016 election brought in a new president and mayor. She worked to improve fiscal accountability, government ethics and create a sense of safety for the city’s Latinx community.
Jamie’s experiences with vulnerable communities, nationally and internationally, gives her a broad perspective on the importance of ethical governance and protecting our democratic institutions.
Because of her innovative work to improve the lives of vulnerable communities, Jamie was elected Chair of the Santa Clara County Refugee and Immigrant Forum and given the Champion for Immigrant Rights Award by the Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN).
Jamie was twice elected to the Santa Clara City Council and served her 120,000 diverse constituents in this full-service city for eight years. Through Jamie’s leadership, the city adopted strong environmental protection standards and a non-discrimination ordinance with protections for transgender people.
Her numerous local and regional leadership roles included the city’s audit, ethics, economic development, and housing rehabilitation committees as well as policy roles on the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency, Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission, and Clean Water Financing Authority. Jamie co-founded the Santa Clara County Green Building Coalition, which developed creative partnerships to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2018, Jamie ran a change-making grassroots campaign in the toughest part of Oregon for a Democrat, earning 146,779 votes and being the first Democratic congressional candidate to win Deschutes County since 1974. By focusing on our shared values, she achieved the greatest shrinking of a congressional vote gap in the entire country. By demanding accountability, she forced one of the most powerful Congressman in the country to play defense and spend his war chest in Oregon, instead of in close races around the country. Her team’s impact is credited with helping to flip the US House of Representatives and contributing to the Congressman’s recent decision to retire. With the shift in power in the US House, Jamie has shifted her focus to ensuring accountability here in Oregon.
Jamie and her wife, Cass, have four children and two dogs. They enjoy living in rural Central Oregon close to their families.