I met Carla Piluso when she was Gresham's first female chief of police.
At the time, I was a Gresham City Councilor and our friendship grew out of a shared commitment and love for our community. I would often run into her at various events and we would always talk about "our girls" (her daughter Kate and my daughter Rachel) and we would trade stories of how both of us were so very proud of the young adults they had become.
I was always so grateful that my daughter saw nothing out of the ordinary when she saw a woman in such an important position. Because when I was growing up, I didn't have many female role models because frankly there just weren't that many women in leadership roles.
And it wasn't enough for Carla to climb the ranks in a traditionally male dominated field. She was just getting started. As my House representative for District 50, I would often hear her introduce herself as hailing from "the great city of Gresham." She always reminded folks of the incredible community that I know she helped build. And as a director for the Gresham Barlow School District, she continued to serve our youth and families, always thinking of others and making sure she paid it forward.
It was not unusual to find Carla at a neighborhood picnic, a community meeting, a Teddy Bear Parade or a Soroptimist, Rotary or Kiwanis meeting. I'm pretty sure she must have had a body double because I don't know how she was everywhere all the time. Trust me, I've tried and it is impossible.
I specifically remember when my daughter Rachel was around 7, we were at a National Night Out event and here comes Carla with about 50 badge stickers stuck on her from head to toe. It was so touching and fun to see how she always made such a tremendous effort to laugh and engage with our community.
It is a little known fact that Carla's family used to have an Italian restaurant. And more than once, she donated a catered dinner as an auction item for our Soroptimist International of Gresham Wine Tasting Fundraiser.
With candlelit tables and checkered red and white table cloths, she whipped up her family's secret sauce and served up the best spaghetti and meatballs I've ever tasted, along with some pretty good vino, because you have to have wine to have an authentic Italian dinner.
I have always admired Carla's dedicatiPilon especially when it comes to the issue of domestic violence. Every year, she would help host the Silent Witness program and hold candlelight vigils to recognize the victims of domestic violence. She has always advocated for increased resources and greater education to protect and save the lives of those experiencing trauma and violence.
Although she has moved out of the official public eye, I have faith she'll continue to do her work in new and exciting ways because that's who she is.
Thank you Carla, for your service and dedication to our children, youth and families throughout East County. We will do our best to follow in your footsteps and carry your legacy forward.
Lori Stegmann of Gresham is a Multnomah County Commissioner.
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