Beverly Stein

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Beverly Stein

Beverly Stein lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband Rob who is a writer. She is president of the Public Stategies Group.[1], a consulting organization to government and non-governmental organizations.


Secretary of Labor Robert Reich appointed Stein to his Task Force on Excellence in Government through Labor Management Cooperation. She also served on the board of the Alliance for Redesigning Government where she first met David Osborne.[2]


Stein received her BA from the University of California at Berkeley in Urban Studies in 1970 and her law degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1976.[3]


Before Stein was elected to a county position she served as a State Representative in the Oregon Legislature for three terms. Prior to that she was an attorney in private practice and a strategic planner and facilitator for non-profit organizations, small businesses and government.[4]

"Community organizer"

Writing in the Huffington Post of September 8, 2008, in an article entitled "From Organizer To Elected Official" Democratic Socialists of America member Peter Dreier listed several former US politicians who had begun their careers as "community organizers". They were late Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, the late Ed Roybal (California's first Latino member of Congress, elected in 1963), former mayors Tom Murphy of Pittsburgh and Andrew Young of Atlanta, Bev Stein, former chair of Multnomah County in greater Portland, Oregon, former Connecticut Secretary of State Miles Rapoport, former state legislators Gonzalo Barrientos of Texas and John McDonough of Massachusetts, and the late Sally Shipman, an Austin City Council member. [5]

Portland New American Movement/Democratic Socialists of America

In August of 1976, as part of an outreach drive, the leaders of the Eugene chapter of New American Movement, which predated the Portland chapter, organized a potluck picnic in Laurelhurst Park in Portland for people to learn about NAM. It was publicized in the Scribe, Portland’s underground newspaper.

A study group ran for about a year and, at the end of it, Richard Healey came through town, and Rhys Scholes and Katherine Pritchard and Beverly Stein said, “Well, we don’t know if we really want to start a chapter of NAM, but let’s put out a call and just see if people come.” A whole bunch of people came, and so we did it. Scholes: There were maybe twenty people to begin with, and Beverly Stein was the key leader.

My grandfather was a socialist, but I came to it through feminism. I went to Berkeley and was involved in the antiwar movement, but mostly as a foot soldier. After I graduated, I got involved in a feminist group that really turned out to be a socialist-feminist group. We produced a radio show for KPFA called “Un-Learning to Not Speak,” and we had a study group, but then I went off to law school in Madison and I joined a group of women who studied Marxism. We would very carefully study the texts. So I was ripe when I came out to Portland

The Portland chapter of the New American Movement formed in 1977, four years after NAM held its inaugural meeting. It was a lively and nationally-renowned NAM chapter, and when the merger between NAM and the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee took place, a majority of its members remained active in the new organization, (Democratic Socialists of America) and, through it, successfully engaged in regional and national politics.

Five people — Rhys Scholes, Marcia Barrentine, Nancy Becker, Scott Bailey, and Beverly Stein — were central to the chapter’s life throughout its existence. They also worked together beyond the life of the organization.

As NAM, we did have a meeting where we decided to pursue public power.

Bev Stein went on to serve three terms as State Representative in the Oregon Legislature (as a Democrat), and then Chair of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners and County Chief Executive for eight years.

She credits her successful election campaigns to her experiences gained in NAM/DSA and also to her NAM/DSA cohort who supported her in these elections and beyond.[6]

Communist allies

Beverly Stein nd her NAM comrades worked with older Communist Party USA members;[7]

I mean, that was NAM, the communists and then the New Leftists. We were mostly a New Left chapter, but we had connections with these old commies.
This also highlights how active we were, personally. From the NAM perspective, we led double lives. We had double meetings where we would meet as NAM, and then we’d be involved in the Trojan Decommissioning Alliance or other kinds of activities. We’d have the NAM Energy Task Force one night, and then the next night we’d go to the Public Power Coalition meeting.

New American Movement 10th convention

In 1981 Bill Barclay, Political Secretary; Beverly Stein, Portland NAM and Jim Shoch, San Francisco NAM led a workshop entitled Chapter Strategies and Coalitional Work at the 10th Convention of the New American Movement. The convention was held in a union headquarters in Chicago and ran from July 29 - August 2, 1981.[8]

Portland DSA

1982 Portland Democratic Socialists of America Steering Committee members , Beverly Stein, Bill Thomas, Nancy Becker, Judi Watts, Pat Hayes, Rhys Scholes, Natasha Beck, Fred Heutte, Gretchen Kafoury[9]

Reagan years

NAM's work was hindered by changes instituted by President Ronald Reagan. According to Stein;[10]

Another part of the answer to your question is the political repression that started up once Reagan came into office. In 1980, I led a legal team defending people doing civil disobedience at the Trojan Nuclear Plant out of Legal Aid, the local Legal Services program.
But in ’80, when Reagan got elected, he attacked all kinds of organizing that came out of Legal Services, so I quit because I knew what I was doing was going to get them in trouble. That kind of support, both for our work, and through our work, to the community, was cut away.

Street theater scam

Portland NAM did a lot of street theater and music as well, through the People’s Power Players.[11]

The People’s Power Players came out of a grant Beverly Stein wrote out of Legal Aid.

The federal government funded that one.

Left unity attempts

Rhys Scholes, Marcia Barrentine, Nancy Becker, Scott Bailey, and Beverly Stein were all involved in the Alliance for Social Change, which was a failed effort at left unity, and that was followed by the Oregon Alliance for Progressive Policy, which was a second failed attempt at left unity.[12]

Working in the Democratic Party

In the early 1980s, when a merger with Portland's Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee was building, Beverly Stein and her comrades began looking seriously at the Democratic Party;[13]

It was at that point that we adopted the inside-outside strategy: working inside the Democratic Party, but also outside, building a movement. So we didn’t abandon that commitment to building a movement.

Merging with DSOC

Beverly Stein became a co-chair of Portland Democratic Socialists of America afer the DSOC/NAM merger in 1982.[14]

I remember our first joint meeting, and everybody was nervous and looking around. And at the end of the meeting, Dick Celsi (a DSOC member) raised his hand and said, “Do any of you guys play bridge?” And [in NAM] we had this long-standing Sunday night socialist bridge club, and we said, “Well, sure.” And that was our first joint project, and something of an icebreaker as well.
The way we merged was to make Bill Thomas and I cochairs of the DSA chapter.

State legislature run

In 1988, Beverly Stein successfully ran, as a Democrat, for the Oregon State legislature;

That’s what makes me think that we still had an active chapter when I ran for the legislature, because we consciously were saying, “Beverly looks like someone who can actually pull it off, so let’s do it.” I mean, I was a nobody. Everyone thought, “She’ll never win, she’s a socialist.” But all my friends were organizers, and we ran the best community-based campaign that anyone had ever seen at that point.

About that time DSA ceased to be a major force in Portland.

Moving into the Democratic Party, was part of an inside-out strategy;[15]

Well, part of it was this inside-outside strategy. As we moved towards working with the Democratic Party, we saw electoraltics as being a more effective way to focus our energy. But I always talked about, even then, creating an inside-outside movement.
When I was in office, I would help organize people outside, to organize against me, or to support what I was doing. But NAM carried on long after that. When I ran for governor, I would have people coming up to me all over the state from other NAM chapters, saying, “I remember nyou from NAM,” and they would be automatically on board. There was a Eugene chapter, there was Corvallis chapter, one in Klamath Falls, and another in Albany.

DSA Feminist Commission

In 1985[16] and 1986,[17] Beverly Stein of Oregon was listed as a member of the Feminist Commission of the Democratic Socialists of America.

DSA National Convention

Speakers at the Democratic Socialists of America 2nd National Convention, in Berkeley California, included: Nicaraguan Foreign Minister, Fr. Miguel D'Escoto, Mpho Tutu, daughter of SA Anglican Bishop, Desmond Tutu, Marta Petrusewicz, Barbara Ehrenreich, Rep. Ron Dellums, Elinor Glenn, Michael Harrington, Harold Meyerson, Paulette Pierce, David Plotke, Jim Shoch, Beverly Stein, Mel Pritchard, Jim Jacobs, Dolores Delgado Campbell, Guy Molyneux, Cornel West, Gail Radford.[18]

DSA Elected Representatives, 1990

Democratic Left, Jan. 1990, page 7

As of January 1990, Democratic Socialists of America members holding elected public office included;[19]

Still a socialist?

Beverly Stein told a 2008 interviewer;[20]

I hold a lot of the values that I held as a socialist, and I still have the same outrage at inequalities, but I don’t talk about socialism anymore. It just seems to be something that people don’t get, and the world’s changed.