Norm Smith’s connection with the Oregon State Capitol began on his second birthday when he and his parents celebrated in the park adjacent to the Capitol. Smith’s oral history project interview explores the variety of ways he has contributed to Oregon and the Capitol. As a student at Willamette University School of Law, Smith interned for several agencies and was a building tour guide. In that role he explored “every nook and cranny” until he thoroughly knew the building.
From 1979 -1983 Smith represented District 7 (later 9) that included an eclectic constituency that spanned from the urban boundaries of Portland to ranches, farms and orchards in rural areas of Yamhill and Washington Counties. The district reflected the larger urban and rural issues confronting the state. Smith treasures “the fact that I had to figure out whether I was benefitting more than fewer and that if there was a way to bring it more to the middle that that was a better solution for that district.”
Smith becomes founding board member of Oregon State Capitol Foundation
Smith points to the importance of relationships throughout his interview as the key to success in life and work. As the first president and CEO of The Ford Family Foundation, Smith influenced Oregon’s civic and cultural life through educational scholarships for rural students, rural community grants, and support for the arts. Given the longevity of Norm Smith’s relationship with the Capitol, it was a perfect fit when he became a founding board member of the Oregon State Capitol Foundation, later chairing its board.
Over 20 years later the common bonds of diverse people move the Foundation’s mission forward for the benefit of the Capitol and Oregonians.