Browse more profiles
A World of Cool: David and Janice Yaden
A World of Cool: David and Janice Yaden

Although David Yaden, BA ’70 and his wife Janice, MA, BA ’66, would have attended some of the same Political Science classes in the 1960s, they did not meet at Portland State University (then known as Portland State College).

“He was probably too nerdy for me,” Janice muses.

By the time they met through mutual friends and married in 1972 David had completed a motorcycle trip to South America, making him decidedly less nerdy. He also lived on a houseboat which, to the worldly Janice who had been living abroad, “thought was quite cool.”

In January of this year David and his friends decided to recreate that same motorcycle trip. Now 70 years of age, David is still really, really, cool. [You can read about their adventures on David’s blog]

Although continuing their worldly adventures over the past 50 years, the Yadens still call Portland home.

Their experiences at Portland State remained integral to their future successes and this year two undergraduate students in the College of Urban & Public Affairs will be the first recipients of the Yaden family endowed scholarship.

Coming from hardworking, blue collar, supportive but poor families, the Yadens both received scholarships during their time at Portland State College and their goal for this endowment is to help students from similar backgrounds. “It makes me really happy to think that someone like me whose father had maybe finished 8th Grade could get a university degree with a little financial help.” Janice says. “I cried when Dave and I attended our son's graduation from Harvard whose two grandfathers had been a fisherman and a welder!”

During his time at Portland State, David met a journalist and political analyst named Sam Lubell who had a major influence on his career. After helping Lubell write a third edition to his book, “The Future of American Politics,” about the rise of FDR and the Democratic Party, he started his own polling firm. His career has included running the congressional office of Rep. Don Bonker (D-Washington), working for Neil Goldschmidt at both the city and state levels and at the US Department of Transportation, and as the head of the Oregon Department of Energy. The Yadens left Oregon for a year to work in Czechoslovakia developing environmental programs after the fall of Communism. After returning home, David consulted on topics ranging from energy and transportation to higher education, including a major proposal for using the initiative to reform Oregon’s tax system. Although “semi-retired” he does an occasional consulting job, most recently for regional government Metro and serves as a member of the State Board of Higher Education and as a member of the Board of Directors of Oregon Health & Sciences University.

Janice’s career has led her around the globe pursuing her passion for helping women and children. Janice worked in children’s advocacy positions under Sen. Ron Wyden and Gov. Neil Goldschmidt. She also served on the Commission on Children and Families under Gov. Barbara Roberts. Since then Janice has worked with Mercy Corps, overseeing ground operations in Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Sudan.

The Yadens feel grateful that Portland State gave them the tools to live their dreams. Their wish is to give such an opportunity to deserving young people in similar circumstances. David says, “it would be greatly fulfilling to us if, years from now, a recipient of our scholarship is writing a similar thank you to PSU and setting up another scholarship to show his or her gratitude.” David and Janice plan to grow this scholarship endowment over the years and have included it in their estate plan. Through this generous gift David and Janice will continue to make a difference in our world for generations to come. And that is really cool.


Portland State Alumni Association, Portland State UniversityTo read more about Portland State University Alumni, please join us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

If you are interested in giving back to Portland State University please visit: