Jason Atkinson has developed a reputation as leader, public speaker, author and executive. His breadth of experience in business and government combines with a passion for service notable in its force and clarity of vision. As a candidate for Governor of Oregon in 2006, Atkinson showed an intense work ethic, the fortitude to handle extreme personal and diverse pressures and the ability to organize and mobilize people with an upbeat, positive, energetic campaign that grabbed national attention. In 2008 Atkinson was nearly killed in a gunshot accident and showed the same determination to recover he has had in all his endeavors. In 2009, Atkinson remanded the highest poll choice for his party’s nomination for Governor; however, due to his health, he was unable to run.
After recovery, Jason Atkinson dove back into public service: financing new companies; diplomacy for foreign projects he believes in, and active board service.
In 2011, Jason Atkinson became the fifth most senior member of the Oregon Senate, originally elected to the Oregon Legislature in 1998, after being outspent four to one. Atkinson successfully ran for the Senate in 2000. He has been re-elected twice to the Oregon Senate. In 2004, he won both the Republican and Democratic primaries.
In the Capitol, Atkinson is known as the first to make things happen, the first to give all the credit away and the first to call for civility in public discourse. He calls the 2011 his most productive session, negotiating major legislation for Oregon ratepayers, Oregon agriculture, Oregon business and his very active constituent caseload. His expertise’s are in renewable energy, international trade, natural resources, conservation and tax reform. He has been a tireless advocate for higher education, clean rivers and Oregon businesses.
Teaching & Speaking
In 2003, Atkinson founded a college seminar on history, public policy and leadership issues. A cross between “Inside the Actors Studio” and a graduate school lecture, Atkinson invites the key leaders in the Northwest and interviews them before an audience who is testing his premise “10% hold the other 90% together.” Supreme Court Justices, Governors, business and non-profit leaders have joined him. Additionally, he has been a guest lecturer and speaker in Universities, forums, conferences and dinner keynotes on a variety of topics. Atkinson’s style combines the art of short stories, humor and thoughts based on conviction.
In 2010, Atkinson was a guest lecturer to South African Military Health Training School in Pretoria South Africa, lecturing on the Geneva conventions, the law of armed conflict and modern leadership styles.
Growing up in radio and TV he received his official FCC license at age 14, even though he had been on air for several years by then. Atkinson remains on the board of directors for the Dove TV, Radio and Internet. He has been involved in several independent movies and in 2009, he wrote, produced and hosted a film called “A personal look at the Oregon State Capitol with Senator Atkinson.” Over the years, he has appeared in commercials for Danner Boots, Mitsubishi TV, various political spots and hundreds of radio commercials. Comfortable on TV, Atkinson is often sought for comment, humor and as a commentator on issues in Oregon.
Atkinson’s true passion is his diplomatic work. Atkinson has been involved in the plight of the Kurds of Northern Iraq for nearly a decade. His reputation as being able to talk to anyone from a King, to a person with complete loss after genocide has allowed him to be used in quiet diplomacy work in not only the Middle East, but also Central America and Nepal.
He has discussed tax policy at the White House with President Bush, had an audiences with: Massoud Barazani; President of the Kurdistan Regional Government; Nechervan Barazani, then Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government; King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and Wen Jiabao, Premier of the People’s Republic of China. Atkinson has also had audiences with numerous other dignitaries from the United States, Central America and Africa.
While Atkinson’s diplomatic work largely is outside the bounds of his public role, he has lead trade missions, critical to Oregon’s economy in both Taiwan and the Peoples’ Republic of China.
Before politics, Atkinson’s ability to “make things happen” began in business. He has a diverse background in international business, finance, real estate, corporate communications and coalition building. He has created several business ventures and is currently the principle in Atkinson & Co., which negotiates private capital investment for emerging growth companies.
For over fifteen years, Atkinson has been as a negotiator in complex cases and worked as turn-around specialist. His additional contributions for companies have varied widely from change management to corporate re-branding, from managing legal, tax and capitalization requirements for start-up non-profit foundations to negotiating complex real estate transactions between private, public and private non-profit buyers and sellers. Atkinson has filled many rolls including temporary CEO for clients experiencing significant corporate change and restructuring. His experience has lead him to conduct aggressive business financial turnarounds of companies with gross revenue $3-5 million dollars and acquiring private equity for $1 – 50 million projects.
Atkinson wrote, What We All Wish Politicians Understood, asking readers not to delegate a better society to anyone else. He has published articles on the Middle East, politics and leadership. Recently he became a contributing author to The Recovering Politician blog based in Kentucky. Additionally, in 2011 Atkinson hopes his first children’s book “One Good Turn Deserves another, next time listen to your Mother” will be published.
Leadership & Non-Profit Service
Atkinson was privileged to be in the inaugural two-year class of the Aspen-Rodel Fellowship in Public Leadership, an Aspen Institute program designed to bring together “the very best of the nation’s emerging leaders” to discuss broad issues of democratic governance and effective public service. As a Rodel Fellow, he traveled to the countries of Egypt, Jordan, Israel, China and India. Atkinson, a presenter in 2009, was asked to present again at the Aspen Institute’s Act II in 2011. ACT II is the Biennial Gathering of Fellows from across the Aspen Global Leadership Network, a growing, worldwide community of entrepreneurial leaders from business, government and the nonprofit sector who share a commitment to enlightened entrepreneurial leadership and to using their extraordinary creativity, energy and resources to make a dent in the universe. Atkinson has also attended seminars at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and was a Toll Fellow with the Council of State Governments.
Atkinson continues to serve proudly as a founding Trustee of the Crater Lake National Park Foundation and as board member to the following non-profits: the Oregon Capitol Foundation, H.A.N.D. (Helping Assist Nepal’s Disabled), United Christian Broadcasters Board of Directors, and the Protectors. He is the past Chairman of the Board for the Peter R. Marsh Foundation and past national board member of Sparrow Clubs.
Atkinson hold’s a Master of Management degree from the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University, which combined the disciplines of both an MBA and MPA. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Oregon University, double majoring in history and political science.
Atkinson is a passionate two-handed steelhead fisherman, struggling cook, gun-dog trainer who pilots airplanes, restores cars and prefers the sound of his tractor to his cell phone. His drift boat is called “the home office.”