Senator Sara Gelser

We Are The Changemakers Panelist Bio

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“I am a changemaker because too many of our institutions and policies fail to meet the needs of the real people they are supposed to serve. I want to make change by making space for people who are often excluded from the table to tell their own stories, demonstrate their power, and make their lived expertise and experience the foundation of public policy.”
— Sara Gelser

About Sara

Senator Sara Gelser represents Albany and Corvallis in the Oregon Legislature.  She entered public service through the disability community, where she has been an advocate for full inclusion of all people with disabilities in education, the workforce, housing and community.  In 2009, she was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the US Senate to the National Council on Disability.  In the Legislature, Sara successfully spearheaded efforts to empower the independent voice of foster youth, eliminate the use of seclusion and restraint in public schools, and eliminate zero tolerance school discipline policies.  She was the chief sponsor of Oregon's Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights, legislation to create the nation's first LGBTQ Veteran's Coordinator, and Melissa's Law to end Oregon's rape kit backlog.  She proudly carried legislation banning so called "conversion therapy" in Oregon.  She continues to fight to eliminate the sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities and to end predatory pricing on inmate telecommunication services.  She is the mother to a 22 year old son who experiences intellectual disability, and three teenage daughters.