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Willy Chotzen is a public defender and a father to two young children. Born in Ashland, Oregon, he has spent his adult life fighting for equity and working to uplift people who have been historically marginalized.

As a middle school math teacher in Oakland, California, Willy taught his students to use math as a tool for advocacy and empowerment. Feeling called to address the systemic inequities facing his students, Willy left teaching to attend Harvard Law School, where he spent much of his time working in a legal aid clinic fighting wage theft, evictions, and foreclosures, while also teaching an undergraduate course in economics.

As a Chief Attorney at the Portland public defender's office, he trains and supervises new attorneys, shapes court policy, and advocates for his clients, both in the courtroom and in the community. His wife is a career educator and restorative justice specialist for Portland Public Schools, and they are raising two wonderful children, who remind them every day that a better, more equitable future is worth fighting for.

As a public defender, Willy sees the systems that are broken and hears from the people who are hurting. We can address these challenges by building a movement grounded in community, inclusion, and creative problem solving. Let’s work together to create a brighter future for Oregon.

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