Meet Carla!



Carla comes from a working-class home in Multnomah County. Growing up in the house her father built, Carla’s family rarely missed the opportunity to sit down for a meal together—planting the seeds of Carla’s strong work ethic and her passion for family and community.

Public service and community have been central to Carla’s life from a very young age. Attending Oregon Girls State as a high schooler kindled her passion for civics and representation; as lifelong athlete (and honoree of the Willamette University Athletic Hall of Fame), she knows the value of working as a team.


Carla graduated from Willamette University with degrees in Political Science and Speech, the first member of her family to receive a college degree. The Oregon State Police hired its first woman troopers while Carla was serving there as an intern, giving her the opportunity to witness the challenges of being a “first” first-hand.

Nevertheless, Carla persisted. She joined the Gresham Police Department in 1979, and over the next thirty years became the first woman to be promoted through every rank of the Department. During her six years as Chief of Police, Carla prioritized keeping kids safe and combating gang crime. With a budget of over $21 million, she gained hands-on experience efficiently and effectively getting results for the community.


Carla’s dedication to service didn’t stop with her retirement from Gresham PD. She has long been active in local schools, and she is now in her third term on the Gresham Barlow School Board. As a law enforcement veteran, Carla knows that better educational opportunities lead to better choices and better outcomes for kids. Her experience in local schools has helped her ensure that Gresham schools and Gresham kids are a priority in Salem.

Carla is also active on several philanthropic boards, including Human Solutions, SnoCap, and the Salvation Army. She believes strongly that some of the most pressing issues facing our community—whether housing and homelessness, jobs and poverty, or education and opportunity—should be tackled holistically, as a combined effort between government and community organizations.

Over the past four years, Carla has employed this community-driven approach to advocate for House District 50 in the Oregon State Legislature. She has secured funding for after-school programs for at-risk youth in East County, collaborated with women veterans to create the state's first Oregon Women's Veteran Coordinator, and worked to fund more affordable housing and protect renters and homeowners in our community.

With all that she has accomplished, Carla is most proud of raising a bright, healthy, kind, and intelligent daughter named Kate. Kate graduated from Willamette University in 2015 and now teaches at-risk youth in New Jersey.

  • Carla Piluso
    followed this page 2014-07-16 10:43:56 -0700
  • Carla Piluso
    published this page 2014-06-22 15:45:13 -0700

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