Elaine Cogan (b. 1932)

Elaine Rosenberg Cogan was born September 24, 1932 in Brooklyn, New York to Belle and Lou Rosenberg. Lou and his father had a fur business. The family moved to Portland, Oregon in 1948 where her dad worked at Ungar’s Fur Company. The family originally moved to outer southeast Portland and then eventually closer in to northeast Portland. Elaine graduated from the religious school at Temple Beth Israel and also from Lincoln High School. While at Lincoln, she was editor of the school newspaper. After two years at Vanport College (now Portland State) she transferred to Oregon State University to be closer to her high school sweetheart, Arnold Cogan. They both graduated from Oregon State in 1954, after having been married December 21, 1952 at Congregation Tifereth Israel, a small synagogue in Northeast Portland where Arnold’s family were long-time members and Elaine’s family had joined after coming to Portland. They were the first couple to be married in the synagogue, although the congregation was more than 50 years old.

The couple have three children: Mark, Suzanne, and Leonard, and have lived since 1962 in a home they built in Mt. Tabor. They enjoy seven grandchildren and one great grandchild. While staying home when the children were small, Elaine worked as a freelance columnist for the Portland Journal and then the Oregonian, and also as a freelance writer for her small consulting business. She was president of the League of Women Voters of Portland and a citizen volunteer throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, implementing President Johnson’s Model Cities program in Portland. She was the first (and only) woman chair of the Portland Development Commission in 1972 and ’73 and the first woman chair of the board of Providence Medical Center.

Elaine and Arnold started a planning and communications consulting business in 1975 and sold it to their partners in 2015, although they continue to be involved with the company and maintain an office in downtown Portland. During that time, Elaine started a mail-order company, Elaine’s Tea Company, served as editor of the Jewish Review newspaper, and wrote three books: You can Talk to (Almost) Anyone about (Almost) Anything, which was co-written with Ben Padrow; Successful Public Meetings; and Now that You’re on Board: a Primer for Planning Commissioners. Elaine was also the political commentator for KGW TV, predicting election results and reporting returns. She was the first to announce Senator Ron Wyden’s first win during a close election. For seven years, she was host of a weekly talk show on KGW Radio.