Oregon State Representative
East Portland, Damascus, Gresham,
Boring, North Clackamas, & Happy Valley
PUBLIC SERVICE BIOGRAPHY
Proactive leadership, strategic collaboration, and a forward-thinking approach are the three key elements that have shaped Janelle Bynum’s 25-year career. A courageous trailblazer in public service, her local business community, and corporate America, she currently serves as the Oregon State Representative for House District 51, representing six communities including East Portland and North Clackamas. In the Legislature, she is Chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Sub-Committee on Equitable Policing; and serves as a Member of the House Business and Labor, Ways and Means, and Modernizing the Legislature Committees. She also leads the BIPOC Caucus giving voice to Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, and People of Color constituents.
During her tenure as State Representative, Janelle has spearheaded bipartisan initiatives encompassing Voter Engagement and Turnout; Investment in K-12 and Higher Education; Juvenile and Criminal Justice Reform; and Targeted Support for Underrepresented Businesses. She has passed legislation to put an end to unlawful summoning of the police, support hate crime survivors, improve high school graduation rates, ensure equal pay for women, promote small business growth, raise awareness on maternal mortality, and address Oregon’s housing crisis. Next on Janelle’s ambitious agenda is to pass landmark legislation on Police Accountability along with mental health workforce investments, the CROWN Act, diversification of corporate boards, and increased access to the ballot for youth.
Being a consensus builder and role model, Janelle loves the challenge of bringing together a broad cross-section of advocates to champion policy changes; devise structural shifts toward equity within communities and institutions; offer unconditional support for Oregon’s children and families; and elevate the issues that matter most to small business owners. She uses her platform to advocate for data-based policy that improves the quality of life for communities and supports multi-generational wealth building through education and asset building.
Representative Bynum has been featured in national publications including The Washington Post, New York Times, NPR, the Associated Press and The Appeal. She has also been quoted extensively in Oregon media: The Oregonian, OPB, Portland Mercury, Willamette Week, Pamplin Media and other local outlets. She also has a consistent presence on Oregon television through regular interviews with KGW, KATU, KOIN and KPTV.
Her speaking engagements have encompassed topics on How to Testify and Engage with Legislators; Small Businesses—Access to Capital; Hiring and Retention of Employees; Access to Educational Opportunities and her personal story on her journey from family roots in Conway, South Carolina to her life Happy Valley, “Geechee Girl in Oregon.”
Concurrent with her public service, Janelle owns and operates with her husband four McDonald’s Restaurants in the Portland, Oregon metro area with locations in urban, suburban, and rural communities. In her earlier career, Janelle enjoyed a six-year tenure as a Product Engineer and Supplier Quality Engineer at General Motors Corporation in Saginaw, Michigan. She led teams on the development of electric power steering and hybrid vehicle technology across manufacturing and development sites in the United States, Luxembourg, France, Mexico and Taiwan. She has served on the Board of Trustees for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon, Business Oregon, the Center for Women’s Leadership, and the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs.
Janelle is married with four children. She was born in Washington, DC and now lives in Happy Valley, Oregon. A graduate of The Madeira School, she earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from Florida A&M University, and her MBA with a focus in Human Resources Management from the University of Michigan—Ross Business School. She is a champion for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and is a lifelong lover of American football, fast cars, and artisan cheeses.