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Four-year House District 52 representative to begin job as executive director of Oregon's System of Care Advisory Council on Aug. 15

PMG FILE PHOTO  - Rep. Anna Williams, D-Hood River, unseated then Rep. Jeff Helfrich for the House 52 representative position in 2018. In March, House District 52 Rep. Anna Williams, D-Hood River, was one of three prominent House Democrats to announce they wouldn't run for re-election due to insufficient wages for the work required. Williams has served in the House since 2019, winning her election in 2018 against then Rep. Jeff Helfrich.

Within hours of it becoming clear that Senate Bill 1566 — which would have raised lawmakers' pay — wouldn't make it out of committee, Reps. Rachel Prusak of West Linn, Karin Power of Milwaukie and Williams announced they were stepping down. Now, three months before the November election, Williams has announced that she plans to step down from her position even earlier, leaving Salem on Aug. 14.

Williams, who currently chairs the House Committee on Human Services, has accepted a position as the executive director of Oregon's System of Care Advisory Council.

Williams has a master's degree in social work and a longtime passion for serving others. During her career, she has worked at a drop-in center for adults experiencing homelessness, a therapeutic group home, as an advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and as a program coordinator for elder patients needing supportive care in a health care setting. She has also primarily focused on human services policy as a legislator and will continue to do so in her new role.

In her time in the House, Williams said she is most proud of her efforts that have helped increase support for child abuse victims in Oregon.

"Research tells us that childhood trauma may be the single biggest contributing factor to an adult's ability to lead a healthy and happy life," Williams explained. "By increasing the quality and availability of services for child abuse victims and their families, both in my district and statewide, I will leave office confident that the legislature has vastly improved the future prospects for hundreds, maybe even thousands of kids."

According to a release from her office, Williams has also sponsored and successfully passed measures to "support homeless youth, to review the rate structures and workloads for some beleaguered human services providers, to give school districts support in educating students about child abuse and to study the true prevalence of child abuse in Oregon, which she says will help the legislature craft more effective policies to address and prevent widespread abuse in the state."PMG FILE PHOTO - Williams has helped advocate for funding in Sandy for efforts like the ongoing wastewater treatment plant projects green alternatives exploration in her time in office.

In the Columbia Gorge and Mt. Hood regions, Williams helped pass policies to support search and rescue operations as well as helped direct more than $30 million in state and federal funding to House District 52 to support its economy, its infrastructure, and its most vulnerable populations.

In her last weeks as a state representative, Williams hopes to help ensure that the work for human services programs and other policies she's labored on for the past two years as the chair of the House Committee on Human Services continues after she leaves, and that those conversations are ongoing.

"So many programs within the state's social safety net are really complex," she said. "My goal is to help ensure that the next chair of the committee can navigate the steep learning curve and hit the ground running when it comes to ongoing program improvements."

As executive director of Oregon's System of Care Advisory Council, Williams background in social work will be a huge asset and keep her on the career path she enjoys and serving the most vulnerable of Oregonians.

"Relationships are where healing happens, whether it's between agencies, within families, or between individuals working together to improve systems," she said. "I look forward to meeting all of the people involved in this work, getting to know them, and improving the outcomes for children and youth in their communities and across our state."

During her time in the Legislature, Williams has needed to work multiple part-time jobs to supplement the less than $33,000 paid to legislators a year. She said now that she's resigning from her position in the House, she looks forward to being able to being able to focus her attention on one position.

"I will be a much better public servant when I'm able to spend all of my time working on meaningful policy change without having to worry so much about making ends meet," she said.

She will begin serving in her new role on August 15.

This early resignation opens up the House 52 seat for a temporary appointment, which would have to be agreed upon by Hood River, Clackamas, Multnomah and Wasco County Commissions. Jeff Helfrich was representative by appointment in 2017 after former Rep. Mark Johnson resigned midterm.

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