Meet Brad Avakian
Commissioner of Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries
A Lifetime of Fighting for Oregon’s Middle Class Families
As an Eagle Scout, Brad Avakian learned early in life that hard work and commitment could create positive changes in peoples’ lives. These principles have guided Brad throughout his life, and have led him to stand up for workers’ rights as a civil rights attorney and to fight for our children and our environment as a state legislator.
Raised in Washington County, Brad is a product of Oregon’s public schools. He graduated from Oregon State University in 1984 with a BS in Psychology and Lewis and Clark Law School in 1990 with a JD. Brad worked his way through law school by helping to create the local YMCA’s Juvenile Restitution Program, which mentored troubled youth and put them to work repaying the victims of their crimes.
For the next fifteen years, Brad dedicated his life to representing middle class families. As a civil rights attorney, Brad fought for fair wages, good working conditions and the right to organize and bargain. He also co-founded the Oregon League of Conservation Voters’ Washington County Chapter and was appointed by Governor Barbara Roberts to lead the State Board of Psychologist Examiners. Dedicated to a diverse work force, Brad served as Honorary Chair of the Oregon Business Leadership Network.
During his time in the Oregon Legislature, Brad continued making middle class families his top priority. The Oregon AFL-CIO named him a "Working Families Champion" and gave him a Gold Medal for Leadership. SEIU Local 503 honored Brad for his work to ensure families have access to quality health care.
In 2008, Brad led a diverse coalition of cities, industry, tribes, environmental groups and farmers to design and pass the Agricultural and Community Water Act. This effort initiated water supply projects statewide to bring desperately needed water to Oregon’s farms and rural communities.
In 2008, the former Labor Commissioner retired and Brad was appointed to the post by then-Governor Ted Kulongoski. Brad won statewide election for the position later that year. Since 2008, he has worked to take his fight for the middle class to the next level by focusing on apprenticeship training and workforce development. As Commissioner of Labor and Industries, he has teamed up with both business and labor to protect the rights and wages of workers on the job and ensure that people are trained for the high-wage, high-demand jobs of the future. He has worked hard during his tenure to strengthen civil rights enforcement, stop wage theft, and bring career and technical education back to our middle and high schools.
Brad and his wife Debbie, an administrator at Providence Medical Center, currently live in Washington County where they raised their two children, Nathan and Claire.