Longtime ORTL Staff Member Ascends to Political Director

Albany native and Oregon Right to Life (ORTL) political director Sharolyn Smith rarely heard about contentious topics like abortion or assisted suicide in her childhood. It wasn’t until the 2016 election that her pro-life views began taking shape.

“I was a senior at my public high school, and the issue of abortion was a popular one, but my viewpoint was not,” Smith says. “I knew I was pro-life, but I did not have the information I do now and avoided conflict like the plague, so I stayed quiet — but the idea that heartbeats were stopping in the name of ‘choice’ felt uncomfortable.”

After high school, she saw an ORTL job posting for an office manager. Smith had the pro-life beliefs, the administrative experience and the marketing skills from a stint in real estate. She landed the job, officially joining the team in December 2019.

Since then, the Oregon City resident has held multiple positions on the ORTL team, including office manager, communications specialist, operations manager — and now, since March 7, political director.

“I never saw myself working in politics, but I have seen some of the hardest workers while working in this industry,” Smith says. “Throughout my many positions at Oregon Right to Life, I have often fallen as the go-to problem solver, and honestly that sums up the root of working in politics: willingness to work hard and a love for fast-paced problem solving, and I’m excited to work closer with people who hold that same drive.”

Smith’s official duties involve recruiting, vetting, endorsing and recommending pro-life candidates for local and state elections; providing support and training to those candidates; compiling ORTL PAC’s voter guide; and working to increase pro-life voter turnout.

“While I oversee all these projects, I could not do it without the support of my entire team of staff and our faithful donors,” she says. “With the nature of campaigns, our impact relies on the funds from passionate advocates.”

It all adds up to an exciting future in Oregon, Smith says.

“I don’t know that many people realize this, but ORTL is truly the most established and equipped state pro-life organization in the entire nation — and that is not an exaggeration,” she says. “As far as the political climate goes, Oregon can seem pretty dismal, but I want Life in Oregon readers to hold out hope as we continue to work towards a culture of life in our school boards, cities, counties and legislature.”

ORTL’s executive director calls Smith an exceptional servant leader. 

“In each of the roles, she has not only excelled in her work but excelled in her care for her team,” says Lois Anderson. “Sharolyn is an asset not just to Oregon Right to Life, but to the pro-life movement, period.” 

To reach Smith, email sharolyn@ortl.org.


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