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Suzanne Bonamici grew up in a small town in Michigan. Her father worked for a local bank and her mother was a small business owner and piano teacher. Many of her strongest childhood memories are of family camping trips with her two brothers.
After graduating from high school, Suzanne moved to Oregon with friends and fell in love with the state. She put herself through college, first at Lane Community College and then at the University of Oregon, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. Following college, she went on to law school at the University of Oregon and earned her J.D. degree.
Suzanne has dedicated her entire career to working for accountability, fairness, and the creation of opportunities for middle class families.
During college, Suzanne worked as a legal assistant at Lane County Legal Aid in Eugene. It was there that she discovered her interest in and passion for consumer rights.
After graduating, she worked as a consumer protection attorney for the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. She was assigned to the Credit Practices Division, where she worked to protect consumers from predatory or discriminatory lending practices.
Suzanne met her husband Michael in Washington, D.C., and in 1986, they moved to Washington County. In Oregon, she entered private law practice, where she specialized in representing small businesses.
After several years of practicing law, Suzanne took a career break to raise her children. She became active in the community, volunteering for education, arts, and civic organizations like the Classroom Law Project, Beaverton Education Foundation, and several theaters. Her school advocacy work is what first took her to the Oregon State Capitol, attending rallies in support of education and leading her to a decision to serve in public office.
Suzanne started as a legislative assistant in the Oregon House of Representatives in 2001. In 2006, the voters of Washington County’s House District 34 elected her to represent them in Salem.
After only one term in the Oregon House, her leadership and hard work were recognized and led to her appointment, and then election, to the Oregon Senate in 2008. She was reelected to the Senate in 2010.
In the Oregon Legislature, Suzanne was Chair of the Consumer Protection & Public Affairs Committee and a member of the Education & Workforce Development Committee. She is recognized as the leading voice for mortgage reform, passing legislation that ensures homeowners facing foreclosure receive timely information about how to request a loan modification and provides them recourse if there is a violation.
Suzanne was first elected to the US Congress in a special election on January 31, 2012, then elected to a full term in November of 2012. She serves on the Education and Workforce Committee and the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, where she holds the leadership position of Ranking Member on the Environment Subcommittee. Suzanne will be on the November 2014 ballot for her second full term. She is also a member of the Progressive Caucus and the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Bipartisan STEAM Caucus, which supports increased education and awareness about the importance of linking art and design to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.
Suzanne and Michael have been married for twenty-nine years. Their children, now grown, attended school in the Beaverton School District. Suzanne, Michael, and their cocker spaniel, Charley, still live in the family’s home in Washington County.