Kate Brown was born in Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain, on June 21, 1960. After spending most of her childhood in Minnesota, Brown earned a B.A. degree in Environmental Conservation with a Certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She earned her law degree and Certificate in Environmental Law from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College in Portland.
Brown has taught at Portland State University and practiced family and juvenile law. She was appointed to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1991. In 1996, after serving two more House terms, she won election to the Oregon Senate. Two years later she was elected Senate Democratic Leader and, in 2004, became the first woman to serve as Oregon’s Senate Majority Leader.
In her legislative career, Brown made Oregon’s government more accessible by holding legislative committee hearings around the state. She also ensured funding for a comprehensive review for Oregon’s ethics laws, spearheaded legislation creating ORESTAR, a searchable online database of campaign contributions and expenditures, and reformed Oregon’s initiative process to reduce fraud and protect the citizen’s right to petition.
In 2008, Brown was elected Oregon’s 24th Secretary of State, and in 2012 she was reelected. As Oregon’s chief auditor, her team has conducted more than 246 audits and reviews of state and local agencies, cutting waste and identifying ways to save taxpayer dollars and deliver services more effectively. In the Corporation Division, she worked collaboratively with private businesses and other state agencies to create an online business portal where business owners and entrepreneurs can access state resources to help grow their businesses and create jobs. As chief elections officer, Brown implemented Oregon’s online voter registration system and the state led the nation in providing tablet technology for voters with disabilities to mark their ballots.
Secretary Brown lives in Portland with her husband Dan.
Secretary of State Kate Brown
136 State Capitol Building., 900 Court St. NE, Salem 97310-0722; 503-986-1523
Kate Brown, Portland; Democrat; elected 2008; reelected 2012; term expires January 2017. The secretary of state is one of three constitutional officers and a statewide elected official. The secretary serves a four-year term and, if reelected, can hold office for two terms.
As auditor of public accounts, the secretary examines and audits accounts of all publicly funded boards, commissions and agencies.
As chief elections officer, she interprets and applies state election laws, compiles and publishes the Voter’s Pamphlet and supervises all elections, local and statewide.
As the chief records officer of the state, the secretary houses and provides access to the permanently valuable records of state government through the Archives Division and provides storage for inactive state agency records through the State Records Center. The division also provides records management advice to state agencies and political subdivisions, and files, codifies and publishes state agency administrative rules.
Through the Corporation Division, the secretary keeps public records of businesses authorized to transact business in Oregon, nonprofit corporations, and trade and service marks. Other public business records include notices of security interests in moveable and personal property, statutory liens and warrants.
As a member of the State Land Board, the secretary shares responsibility with the governor and state treasurer in supervising the management of state-owned lands.
The secretary of state is the custodian of the Seal of the State of Oregon and regulates Oregon notaries public.
The secretary of state also publishes the Oregon Blue Book.
If the office of governor becomes vacant, the office passes to the secretary of state. There is no lieutenant governor in Oregon.