June Newsletter


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Senate Pro Tempore James Manning Jr.

Remembering Chief of Staff Lawanda Joyce Manning

Thank you to all who reached out with your sympathy and condolences at the passing of Chief of Staff Lawanda Joyce Manning.  The outpouring of support our office received in the past week revealed the vast number of lives Lawanda touched.

During her time at the Oregon Legislature, people were drawn to Lawanda’s charm and commitment to progressive change.  Her endless jokes, banter and sincere interest in those she encountered drew people to our office.  It did not matter if a person was meeting Lawanda for the first time or had known her for years, she would treat them with the same humor and kindness.  She would often recant how new people would occasionally mistake her playful humor for sincerity; she would follow those stories with a laugh, saying “I’m too old to change”.  Lawanda said things how she saw them and had no tolerance for dishonesty.  She ran her office with unyielding integrity, determination, and compassion.  Lawanda made sure people knew they could always come to our office for help.  When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Lawanda spent long hours on the office line helping constituents (including many from outside our Senate district) access unemployment benefits.  When other aides and Capitol employees had troubles, many came to Lawanda for support and guidance.

Lawanda leaves behind big shoes to fill, but her presence and influence in the building has paved the way for more to follow.  She knew her presence in the building was important and encouraged other female and BIPOC staffers not to take their own presence for granted.  Lawanda’s presence in the Capitol building made the work day better for all those around her. Her absence will be sorely felt.

A Message from Aide Drew Jacobson

In 2019, I visited the Capitol to meet Senator Manning for the first time.  After making my way to the Senator’s office, I seated myself in the hallway outside.  Lawanda quickly noticed me and beckoned me to her desk.  She and I talked, and with no effort at all she eased whatever nerves I had before my meeting with the Senator.  During that meeting, the Senator offered me an internship for the 2020 session.  He called Lawanda into his office to ask whether she approved of me joining the office.  Lawanda promptly said no, that she had her reservations about me (with a twinkle in her eye), before shaking her head and saying of course she would love to have me on the team.  I was blown away by the generosity shown by the Senator and Lawanda that day and would quickly learn this was nothing unusual of the Manning’s.  From that day forward, Lawanda made sure I was always taken care of.  Every day she made sure I had enough to eat, and always had fruit or granola bars to offer.  One day I marked my tie with a pen, and the next day she showed up with stain remover.  Another time, a button popped off my jacket, and Lawanda pulled a travel stitching kit from her purse so I could mend it.  She even drove me to get my Covid vaccine.  Lawanda also took great interest in me as a person, and would regularly ask how my parents were doing, how my siblings were doing, my girlfriend, and her family, too.  I worked very closely with Lawanda during the 2020 and 2021 sessions, and she embraced me as part of Team Manning right from the start.  Still today I am amazed by the quality of mentorship I received from Lawanda; she made my transition into the professional world incredibly positive.  My friendship with Lawanda influenced how I approach my personal and professional relationships, and I will forever be grateful to her.

A funeral service will be held for Lawanda on June 23rd, 2021 at 2:00pm at the Willamette Christian Center, 2500 W 18th Ave, Eugene OR 97402.  All are welcome to attend.  The service will be live streamed on KEZI.COM.  For those attending, please consider making a donation to Food For Lane County in Lawanda's name in lieu of flowers. 

Senator James I. Manning Jr represents North Eugene, West Eugene, Santa Clara, and Junction City in the Oregon State Senate.

He is currently serving in his fifth Legislative session.