Susheela Jayapal

Susheela Jayapal

Susheela Jayapal has dedicated her time and energy to Planned Parenthood of the Columbia-Willamette, Portland Schools Foundation, All Hands Raised, Literary Arts, Metropolitan Family Service, and the Regional Arts & Culture Council. She has also been a grant evaluator for the Oregon Community Foundation and served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children in foster care.

In 1983, at the age of 20, Susheela earned her undergraduate degree in economics from Swarthmore College. After two years as a financial analyst at an investment bank, Susheela went to law school, earning her law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. She was a litigator at law firms in San Francisco and Portland, and then became the General Counsel at adidas America, serving as the member of the senior executive team responsible for the legal affairs of what was then a $1 billion company. As an attorney, Susheela represented the government in taking on corrupt and negligent bank officers during the fiscal crisis of the 1980s; provided free legal services to people seeking political asylum in the U.S.; and worked on improving labor conditions at factories in Southeast Asia, developing and implementing adidas’ first set of labor standards.

As important as all of that work was and still is, the pull to have a more direct impact on the lives of people in her community was stronger. That’s why Susheela left her legal career nearly 20 years ago, and has worked in nonprofit leadership positions with community organizations ever since — working to improve access to reproductive healthcare, prioritizing equity in our public schools, and shifting public funding for the arts to invest in communities of color.