Jackie Winters

Our State Senator


An American Success Story

Jackie Winters was born in the Dust Bowl of Depression-era Kansas and moved to Portland when her father came west for shipyard work during World War II.

She went from poor to homeless when the Vanport Flood of 1948 washed away everything the family had. But the family stayed together. Through hard work and persistence, Jackie became class president at
Jefferson High School, and she tap-danced her way around the state as a member of Johnny Johnson’s teen entertainment troupe.

After high school came marriage and kids and a move to New York City. There she had an opportunity to work and develop office and accounting skills. Returning to Portland, she found that the only work was as domestic help or nurse’s aide. Racial prejudice kept her out of business school. But she persevered, was hired in medical records at Oregon Health Sciences University and was then able to pursue studies at what was to become Portland Community College.

Jackie became involved as a volunteer in neighborhood meetings under the old Model Cities program. A natural-born “people-person,” Jackie had found her niche. Her activities were so compelling, she was rewarded with a trip to San Francisco for leadership training. Governor Tom McCall took notice, and she moved into state program management. Governor Vic Atiyeh tapped her to be the Oregon Ombudsman —— the state’s top troubleshooter for citizen complaints.

In 1981 Jackie left state employment.  In 1985 she opened her restaurant, Jackie’s Ribs. What began as a business tribute to her mother’s love of barbecue expanded into a successful family business. Her recipes have consistently won top prizes in regional cook-offs.

And Jackie has never stopped her community leadership. She chaired Salem’s first million dollar United Way campaign, and has twice been awarded Salem’s Distinguished Service Award. She originated Oregon’s first food share program, and helped establish the Oregon NW Black Pioneers Association that raises money for
student scholarships. She has also served on the Salem-Keizer Blue Ribbon Committee for Excellence in Education, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Oregon College of Education Foundation, now the Western Oregon University Board of Trustees.

As she sat next to the President at a White House luncheon, Jackie contemplated how much the world has changed since her grandfather dug streets to pay his poll tax.

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A Record of Service


Family Building Blocks Award
Keeping Children Safe and Families together

United Way Outstanding Achievement Award


City of Salem Outstanding Distinguished Service Award
awarded twice

United Way Gold Award

Salem-Keizer School District Appreciation Award

Community Service Award

Willamette University Multicultural Law Student Awarded Twice

Grand Champion Legislator
Oregon Fair Association

Legislator for Excellent Service
Oregon Farm Bureau

Senior Champion for Outstanding Leadership
Oregon Seniors and People with Disabilities

2001 Legislative Champion Award
Mid Valley Senior Services Agency

2001 State Legislator of the Oregon State Council of Senior Citizens

Freshman Legislator of the Year
National Republican Legislator Assoc.

Friend of the Oregon Council of Police Association

2017 Salem first Citizen award
Salem Area Chamber of Commerce

Gordon and Sharon Smith New Freedom Award
NAMI Oregon

Pioneer Award
Salem-Keizer NAACP

Civil Rights Award
Oregon League of Minority Voters

Who’s Who in Black America

Excellence in Education Leadership Award
Center for New Black Leadership

A Rising Star for Nursing
Oregon Nurses Association

Salem-Keizer NAACP Trailblazer Award

Oregon Restaurant Association Community Services Award

Oregonians for Food Shelter All Star Award

Recognition Award
Oregon Pilots Association

Living Legend Award
Black Student Organization, Willamette University

Oregon Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Disablities
Legislative Champion

Director’s Excellence Award Department of Human Services

International Women’s Who’s Who


"I've never had the luxury of being able to do things halfway. When I go to work for Oregon, I work as hard as I possibly can."

Jackie Winters


Providing A Helping Hand

United Way of Marion/Polk Counties Campaign Chair

Marion County Environmental Health Advisory Committee

Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers Association

Chemeketa Community College Foundation Board

Salem Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors



Advisor to salem police foundation

Oregon College of Education Foundation Development Board

Salem Chapter, NAACP
Charter member

Salem-Keizer School District Blue Ribbon Committee on Excellence

Goodwill Industries of Oregon Board of Directors

Salem Rotary