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Natalie Wight has been in the office since 2012; she is the first Black woman and second Asian American to lead it.

COURTESY PHOTO - Natalie Wight has been confirmed by the Senate as the next U.S. attorney for Oregon. Wight has been with the office since 2012 and is a graduate of Cleveland High School. She will succeed Scott Erik Asphaug, another assistant U.S. attorney who has been the acting leader since Billy Williams resigned in February 2021. Natalie Wight has been confirmed by the Senate as the next U.S. attorney for Oregon.

Her nomination was approved Thursday, Sept. 8, by unanimous consent without a recorded vote. President Joe Biden announced her nomination on June 6, about 16 months after he took office.

She was one of three lawyers, all current or former federal prosecutors, who advanced from an interview panel convened by U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland were not bound by the recommendations for the appointment.

She is the first Black woman and second Asian American to be the top federal prosecutor in Oregon.

Wyden and Merkley released this statement after the Senate vote:

"Natalie Wight has long been a community leader with an exemplary record of integrity and independence, and we're gratified the entire Senate has confirmed her nomination to be U.S. attorney for Oregon. We thank President Biden for nominating this very well-qualified Oregonian, and look forward to working with Ms. Wight in this vitally important post serving our state."

Wight has been with the U.S. attorney's office, which is based in Portland, since 2012. She is deputy chief of the organized and violent crime section, and a member of the Indian Country team.

She is a 1992 graduate of Cleveland High School in Portland — a three-sport athlete — and was inducted into the school's athletic hall of fame in 2007 and the Portland Interscholastic Federation Hall of Fame in 2009. She also was a Rose Festival princess in 1992.

She succeeds Scott Erik Asphaug, another assistant U.S. attorney in the office since 2005, who has been the acting U.S. attorney for about 18 months. He was not among the seven lawyers interviewed by the panel in 2021.

The two others who advanced from the panel interviews were Craig Gabriel, chief of the criminal division in the office, and Vivek Kothari, an associate with the Portland firm of Markowitz Herbold and a former assistant U.S. attorney in Atlanta. The senators did not list a preference among the three.

The position was vacated in February 2021 by Billy Williams, who held it for almost six years. He was appointed in 2015 by President Barack Obama and remained during the presidency of Donald Trump. As a presidential appointee, he resigned when Biden became president.

Wight earned a bachelor's degree in biology in 1996 from the College of Idaho in Caldwell, Idaho, and a master's degree in biology/botany in 2000 from California State University at Chico. She earned her law degree in 2003 from the University of Notre Dame.

She has worked her entire legal career for the U.S. Department of Justice. She was with the Federal Bureau of Prisons from 2003 to 2008, and an assistant U.S. attorney in San Francisco (Northern District of California) from 2008 until she came to Portland in 2012.

While at Cleveland High School, she was a first-team all-PIL selection in soccer. She also competed in basketball and track and field. As a lawyer, she returned to coach the mock trial teams at the school.

While at the College of Idaho, she was fifth all-time for assists per game of soccer — and 11th all-time for assists — based on her performances in her senior year in 1995. She took part in 21 games overall.

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