Commissioner Susheela Jayapal

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Susheela has been a proud resident of District 2 for over 25 years. She was born in India, and came to the United States when she was 16, to go to college.

She attended Swarthmore College, graduating with a degree in Economics. After two years as a financial analyst at an investment bank, Susheela went to law school, earning her law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. She was a litigator at law firms in San Francisco and Portland, with a general practice that included representing the government in taking on corrupt and negligent bank officers during the fiscal crisis of the 1980s, and providing free legal services to people seeking political asylum in the United States.

Susheela then became the General Counsel at adidas America, serving as the member of the senior executive team responsible for the legal affairs and human resources functions of what was then a $1 billion company. Among her responsibilities was creating the adidas brand’s first set of labor standards to be applied to contracted factories overseas.

As important as that work was and still is, the pull to have a more direct impact on the lives of people in her community was stronger. That’s why Susheela left her legal career nearly 20 years ago, working in nonprofit leadership positions with community organizations. Among other things, she has served on the boards of Planned Parenthood of the Columbia-Willamette, Portland Schools Foundation, All Hands Raised, Literary Arts, Metropolitan Family Service, and the Regional Arts & Culture Council. She has also been a grant evaluator for the Oregon Community Foundation, managed the Nike Community Impact Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, and served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children in foster care.

Susheela lives in the Sabin neighborhood of Northeast Portland. She has two children who graduated from Grant High School. Susheela enjoys spending time hiking in the Columbia Gorge, reading, gardening, and playing tennis; and regularly travels back to India to visit her parents.

Sara Ryan

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Chief of Staff

Sara serves as Commissioner Jayapal’s Chief of Staff. She has more than 20 years of experience working with community based organizations in both direct service and systems change. Prior to working for Commissioner Jayapal, Sara founded the Oregon Labor Candidate School and helped many candidates get elected to the legislature, school boards and local boards. She has a BA from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters in Social Work from San Francisco State University. Sara serves on the Site Council for Chief Joseph Elementary School. She grew up in eastern Washington and has lived in North Portland since 2004 with her family. 

Jesse Rawlins

Pronouns: he/him/his and they/them/theirs

Policy Advisor

Jesse joined Commissioner Jayapal’s Office as Policy Advisor with extensive public policy, community and stakeholder engagement, and policy advocacy experiences. Proudly growing up in the South, Jesse’s vocation began in grassroots community organizing where they also earned a Bachelor’s in Sociology from Georgia State University. Jesse later relocated to Seattle to attend the University of Washington and graduated with Master Social Work concentrating in policy and administration. Following graduate school, they worked on a political campaign for the first Latinx person elected in Seattle, served as Policy Advisor for a Seattle City Councilmember, led policy advocacy for a legal system reform organization, and advised on behavioral health matters for the Oregon Health Authority. Jesse’s subject-matter knowledge ranges from affordable/accessible housing, homelessness, behavioral health, community safety, economic equality, civil rights, and more all within a social justice framework to maximize opportunities for all communities. Jesse calls Portland and Multnomah County home where they enjoy cultural and social events, being involved in the queer community, and exploring the local area with their Frenchton named Petunia and chosen family.

Monique Smiley

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Office and Engagement Specialist

A rural Oregonian from a small town by the Columbia River, Monique also has strong ties to North and Northeast Portland. She has a strong background in housing issues, having served as the Homeownership Program Coordinator at Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East where she provided pre-purchase support to Preference Policy homebuyers and led the Homeownership Team’s outreach plan. She also worked for the Welcome Home Coalition, a metro-wide coalition that advocates for adequate funding for affordable housing and supported the Metro Affordable Housing Bond. Monique advocated for adequate education funding, revenue, housing, and immigrant rights as Legislative Assistant for an East Portland State Representative. With equity as a central tenant in her work, she focuses on community engagement strategies for policies and programs to reflect the community’s needs. Monique earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Portland State University. She loves spending time with her family and their dog, tending to houseplants, playing video games, and talking about astrology.