Courtney Helstein

MHCC Board of Education, Zone 6

Courtney grew up in a small town in Southern Oregon. The daughter of small business owners, she learned the value of hard work and determination at a young age. Courtney experienced firsthand what it meant to have limited opportunities and learned early on about the importance of education.  

Courtney balanced a full course load and worked 30+ hours a week throughout college at Portland State University and the University of Oregon. Even working nearly full-time and attending public universities, she graduated in 2011 with over $40,000 of student debt.

During the Great Recession and her final years before graduation, the financial hardship Courtney and her family experienced taught her that people don’t struggle by choice. It also inspired her to get involved in civic engagement efforts and public service. As an organizer with the Oregon Student Association, Courtney ran a successful, non-partisan student voter registration drive at MHCC in 2012 that engaged hundreds of young people and students in the electoral process for the first time.

Throughout her work with MHCC students–many of whom were facing the same struggles she had faced–Courtney became a passionate advocate for public higher education. Whether serving as a community organizer who helped pass Oregon’s Tuition Equity policy in 2013 or working to secure funding for Oregon’s only need-based aid program for college students, Courtney found her passion for community organizing in Gresham and East Portland, public service, and advocacy for public education. She carried those lessons into her role as Campaign Manager and Chief of Staff for State Representative Carla Piluso. In that role, she was proud to help secure $1 million in state funding for the Open School East in Rockwood and passed policies like Oregon Promise to allow students to attend community college for as little as $50 a term.

As a result of her experience serving residents of Gresham and East Portland, Courtney decided to continue her career as an advocate in Salem where she has worked to pass state policies that positively impact East County, such as tenant protections, healthcare access, and paid family and medical leave.  She understands the value of education as a tool to lift people up and is dedicated to serving the students, faculty, and staff of MHCC. With years of community organizing, public policy, campaign experience, and a passion for working with students Courtney will move mountains for MHCC.