Karen Minnis
  • Legislative Assistant, 1986-1998.
  • Oregon State Representative, 1998-2001.
  • House Majority Leader, 2001-2003.
  • Speaker of the House, 2003-2007.

About Speaker Minnis

Karen Minnis had no aspirations to become an elected official, but her husband John Minnis did. In 1986, she went to work in Salem as his legislative assistant, learning the ropes of that job as well as how to be a legislator’s wife.

In 1998, Republican Party leaders approached Karen to run for office when John, and many others, were restricted by term limits. Minnis ran and won, becoming the representative from District 49. Her election allowed her to continue projects begun with John and to work on issues important to her.

Leadership roles—House Majority Leader (2001) and Speaker of the House (2003-2005)—gave Minnis the ability to shape the legislative agenda. However, those were dire economic years across Oregon. Minnis recalls that the state budget, “was the prevailing issue at that period of time. You didn’t have as much time to work on policy because we were so caught up in just trying to manage the budget.”

Following her final term in office in 2007, Minnis became a lobbyist, giving her one additional perspective on the legislative process. Karen Minnis believes strongly that: “Legislators have sacrificed to serve….and your family is part of that. Families of legislators are not appreciated enough, because it’s just not just that member that makes that sacrifice.”

You can help preserve history

When you donate to the Capitol Foundation or purchase Pacific Wonderland license plates for your car, you help create a living history of our Capitol and its history. Your support funds programs such as our oral history project. This program gives students, history buffs and our state’s future leaders an opportunity to learn about Oregon’s most important stories from the people who made it happen. Thank you!