Senator Jackie Winters began her life-long interest in citizen involvement and public policy as she listened to her parents’ discussions around the table, first in Topeka, Kansas where she was born, and later in Portland Oregon where her family moved in 1943. Throughout her formal education and early years of employment, she continued to personally practice her belief in the powers of “her voice” as well as her value for gathering “everyone” around the table.
She began her governmental service in 1959 at the University of Oregon Medical School in the medical records unit and later joined the staff of the Portland Model Cities Program. In 1969, she was recruited to be supervisor of the Office of Economic Opportunity’s New Resources Program at the request of Governor Tom McCall. In 1979, she was appointed Ombudsman by Governor Victor Atiyeh. During this service, she helped create the Oregon Food Share Program, the first statewide non-profit food sharing network, which continues today serving most of Oregon’s neediest families.
In 1985, Jackie opened her first Jackie’s Ribs restaurant, in Salem. Over time, she and her family expanded operations to include three restaurants, two franchises, catering services, private parties and numerous appearances in national Bar-B-Q Cook-offs. She closed the business in 2003 at the time of the first illness of her husband.
In 1998, voters of District 31 elected Jackie as State Representative, the first African-American Republican to achieve this honor in Oregon. After serving two terms, she was elected as State Senator for District 10 and has served in that office since 2002. She has served on the Joint Ways & Means Committee since 1999 and chaired the Ways & Means Sub-Committee on Human Resources in 2013. She is currently co-chair of the Ways & Means Sub Committee on Public Safety and serves on the Ways and Means Sub Committee on Human Resources. In November 2014, she was elected to a fourth term as Senator representing District 10. In November, 2017 she was selected by the Senate Republican Caucus to serve as Senate Republican Leader, the first African American in Oregon to be a caucus leader.
Senator Winters is also a past President of the Salem Chapter of NAACP, and one of the founders of the Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers. Nationally, she is a former member of the Executive Board of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, (NOBEL Women), and currently serves as the Oregon State Director for Women in Government (WIG) and Vice-chair of the Committee on International Affairs of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL).
Jackie has lived in Salem for 46 years. She was married in 1971 to Marc “Ted” Winters. She has four adult sons, a stepson, stepdaughter, 11 grandchildren and two great-granddaughters. Her beloved husband Ted passed on August 26, 2008.