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Vanessa has mentored and coached dozens of students over the years and received Willamette University College of Law’s “Outstanding Mentor” Award


Mental Health Advocate, Civil Rights Lawyer, Mentor, and Community Leader 

Vanessa Nordyke is a third-generation Salem lawyer and a Senior Assistant Attorney General at the Oregon Department of Justice. Vanessa’s dedication to Salem goes back to her teens, with work on issues like homelessness, veterans, mental health and more. Vanessa has served on a quartet of City of Salem boards: the City of Salem Youth Advisory Commission, Social Services Advisory Board, Community Police Review Board, and the Citizen Budget Committee. She co-founded the Marion County Veterans Treatment Court. She co-captained a mock trial team of Latinx students through the Salem-Keizer Coalition for Equality.


In 2018, Vanessa made history as the youngest ever-elected President of the Oregon State Bar, a unified bar of approximately 19,000 lawyers and judges statewide. As President, Vanessa led a statewide mental health initiative for the Oregon legal community which continues to . Her passion for destigmatizing mental illness led Vanessa to develop and conduct mental health trainings all over the state. In 2021, she was appointed to the statewide Drug and Alcohol Policy Commission. 

Vanessa is a graduate of South Salem High School, Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and University of Oregon School of Law. She is the recipient of Oregon DOJ's Excellence in Justice Award, the Marion County Bar Association’s Government Lawyer of the Year, Outstanding Mentor Award from Willamette University College of Law, and the University of Oregon School of Law’s Outstanding Young Alumnus Award.

Vanessa is a proud dogmom and loves karaoke, traveling, cooking, and the great outdoors.

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Giving Back

My volunteer work since 2009

  • Member, State of Oregon Drug and Alcohol Policy Commission

  • Member, KMUZ Community Radio Advisory Council, 2019 - Present

  • Member, YMCA Board of Directors 2019 - Present

  • President, Willamette Valley American Inn of Court 2019-2020

  • President, Oregon State Bar, 2018 

  • Member, City of Salem Citizens Budget Committee 2017 – Present

  • Member, Oregon State Bar Board of Governors 2015 – 2019

  • Member, Salem/Keizer Coalition for Equality Mock Trial Team 2013 – 2014 

  • Board Member, Rotary Club of Salem 2013 

  • Team Leader, Willamette Valley American Inn of Court 2013 – 2018 

  • Chair, Oregon State Bar Judicial Administration Committee 2012 – 2013 

  • Chair, Mary Leonard Law Society Essay Contest 2012

  • Member, City of Salem Social Services Advisory Board 2012 – 2015

  • Member, City of Salem Community Police Review Board 2013 – 2014

  • Member, Marion County Veterans Docket Steering Committee 2011- 2013

  • Outstanding Mentor, Willamette University College of Law 2012

  • Co-Chair, Campaign for Equal Justice Marion County Luncheon 2012

  • Nominee, Sandra Day O’Connor Award for Professional Service 2011

  • Recipient, Oregon Department of Justice Excellence in Justice Award 2010

  • Delegate, Oregon State Bar House of Delegates 2010 – 2014

  • President, Mary Leonard Law Society 2010 – 2011

  • Co-Chair, Third Annual Soiree Against Hunger 2011

  • Committee Member, Marion County Sheriff’s Office Community Advisory Committee 2010 – 2013

  • Mentor, Willamette University College of Law Mentoring Program 2010 

  • Table Captain, Campaign for Equal Justice Luncheon 2010

  • Graduate, Marion County Sheriff Office’s Citizen’s Academy 2010

  • Volunteer, Imprint Program 2010

  • Apparel Sale Coordinator for Governor’s Food Drive, Oregon Department of Justice 2009


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