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Chris Kitchel, MBA ’77

“Growing up, the concept of a professional career was an abstract,” says Chris Kitchel. And yet, she has crafted a career that is anything but an abstraction. 

Kitchel, a trial lawyer for the Portland-based law firm Stoel Rives, has been named a Leading Lawyer for Business in a national guide book each year since 2006. In 2010, she received the Multnomah Bar Association’s Mentor of the Year Award, reflecting her dedication to assisting young women attorneys. Kitchel earned her law degree in 1981 from Lewis & Clark College. 

Most recently, she was named one of the top 50 Oregon Super Lawyers for 2011. She joins three other PSU alumni on the 2011 list: John E. Hart ’71, Steven M. Hedberg ’81, and Edward Sullivan ’82.

Kitchel represents employers in employment lawsuits. “I like solving problems,” she says. “I like figuring out what I have to get and how to get it.”

She took that problem-solving expertise on a 2011 sabbatical trip to Kenya, where she worked with young, female Kenyan lawyers, focusing on crimes against women. After two months, she came home with a fresh appreciation for the U.S. justice system. “On a national scale in Kenya, it’s a hopeless situation. Women are still viewed as property. But it helped me realize you can change one person’s life at a time.” 

Kitchel and her husband, Jan, an attorney with Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, have three daughters, the youngest of whom is finishing her law degree. By Meg Descamp