LaVonne Griffin-Valade, Oregon Secretary of State
LaVonne Griffin-Valade grew up in Eastern Oregon. Born in John Day, she was raised by her mill worker mother and Teamster Union truck driver father. LaVonne began her career working as an administrative assistant in the Crook County Juvenile Department. As a divorced, single mother, she later moved with her two young children to the Willamette Valley where she attended Western Oregon University and earned a bachelor’s degree in Humanities.
After a stint as an elementary school teacher, LaVonne mentored homeless and runaway youth in Marion County and connected them with vetted shelter-care providers. This was followed by a stint in Washington County working with teens aging out of foster care. All the while she and her husband Tom cared for their family, which by then had grown to four children.
In the mid-1990s, LaVonne was diagnosed with breast cancer and endured months of treatment at Oregon Health Sciences University until the disease went into remission. Soon after, Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory in Portland brought LaVonne on board to serve as a trainer of educational equity for educators throughout the Northwest and the Pacific Islands. While serving in that position, she penned articles on the topic of educational equity and also earned a Master of Public Administration from Portland State University.
For over 16 years, LaVonne worked as a government performance auditor. She was hired as a Senior Management Auditor at the Multnomah County Auditor’s Office in 1998 and later went on to serve as the elected Multnomah County Auditor. In 2009, LaVonne was elected the Portland City Auditor. As the City Auditor, she oversaw several divisions requiring a high level of independence and ethical judgment from managers and staff, including government performance auditing, elections, archives, ombuds office, and additional accountability functions. Throughout her many years working as a staff auditor and then as an elected auditor, she was a member of an international committee shaping the course of local government auditing throughout the U.S. and in several Canadian jurisdictions.
After leaving office, LaVonne went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts in writing from Portland State University and has since pursued a successful writing career. LaVonne’s personal essays have appeared in Oregon Humanities Magazine. Her story "Eureka" was featured in the 2019 Clackamas Literary Review, and Severn River Publishing has published her successful four-part Maggie Blackthorne mystery series set in Eastern Oregon. LaVonne lives in Northeast Portland.