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Governor appoints Eugene attorney chairwoman of OLCC.

Byline: Mark Baker The Register-Guard

A Eugene attorney who spoke up several years ago about her availability for community service now finds herself appointed the new chairwoman of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Gov. John Kitzhaber announced this week that he has selected Cassandra SkinnerLopata for the commission's top position.

SkinnerLopata, 35, who has served on the state panel since June 2009, succeeds Phil Lang, who retired last month after 13 years leading the commission.

"I'm really excited about it," said SkinnerLopata, general counsel for Agate HealthCare, a Eugene company that develops technology solutions for healthcare management.

The OLCC, created in 1933 by the state Legislature after Prohibition ended, consists of five members, one each from the state's five congressional districts. The commission sets policies and rules, schedules contested case hearings, and appoints liquor store agents and the agency's executive director, who oversees more than 200 employees. Commissioners are appointed by the governor for four-year terms.

In a written statement, Kitzhaber said SkinnerLopata "brings leadership and a new approach to this important commission. I know that she will lead OLCC with integrity, transparency and accountability."

It's not as if SkinnerLopata had been shirking her duties when it came to community service. She is a member of the Oregon State Bar's Quality of Life Committee, and volunteers for the Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force, Lane County Legal Aid and programs at the University of Oregon School of Law, of which she is a graduate.

She has previously held positions on the Lane County Human Rights Advisory Committee, Head Start of Lane County and the board of Breaking Free, a nonprofit group that promotes empowerment and self-defense for women and girls.

She said her connection to OLCC came about after she served on the Governor's Council on Domestic Violence during Gov. Ted Kulongoski's term. That council was disbanded for lack of funds, but SkinnerLopata was at a function at the governor's mansion in Salem when she got into a conversation with Kelly Skye, now a Multnomah County judge but then Kulongoski's general counsel. SkinnerLopata said she had time for additional service because of the domestic violence council's cancellation. She later got the OLCC appointment from Kulongoski.

She initially came to Eugene to attend law school, and started her own law firm in 2007 after clerking for Charles Carlson in Lane County Circuit Court.

Her interest in law and domestic violence stems from her involvement in a physically abusive relationship with an ex-husband that she fled while pregnant with her third child in 2001. She is now remarried. She and her husband, Andy SkinnerLopata, have five children together.
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Title Annotation:Local News
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 8, 2011
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