Selma Pierce, a Community Servant and Proven Leader
Selma Pierce has an abiding respect for everyday Oregonians who get things done.
“I like action more than the talk,” says the first-time candidate for the Oregon Legislature. “And that describes so many of the people I’ve met in our state. I like people who roll up their sleeves.”
As a common-sense pragmatist, Selma is a centrist who is adept at spotting solvable problems and finding common ground.
Voters will come to know her as a principled, approachable, active woman with an internal North Star of compassion and good sense. In a phrase, she’s quietly effective, with a disarming sense of humor.
An Immigrant’s Story
As a child growing up in an immigrant household in San Francisco, where Chinese and English were spoken, Selma experienced what it is like to be viewed as the “other.”
“I remember watching ‘Leave it to Beaver” and wondering why the things that happened on that show didn’t happen in our house,” she says.
“Immigrants today are looking for the same thing my grandparents and parents wanted when they came to this country,” she said. “They wanted to work and be a part of a community.”
Upon arriving in America, her grandfather ran a laundry in Berkeley. “But he wanted more for his children,” she says. She recalls that after her father graduated from Harvard Business School, no one would hire the first-generation Chinese-American. Her dad had to settle a job as a cashier in a family member’s market. Eventually, through persistence, he was hired by the State of California and had a satisfying career there.
“My family experienced the full range of the American immigrant story, just as all other immigrants now and before have,” she says.
A Retired Dentist Turned Community Activist
After dental school, Selma was the primary breadwinner while her husband, Dr. William “Bud” Pierce, completed a medical degree and a doctorate at UCLA. Soon after came a daughter, Kristina, and then a son, Michael.
When Dr. Pierce completed his schooling, the young family moved to Oregon. All their friends said that they were so lucky to be moving to a special part of world.
Selma has taken on an array of civic and philanthropic endeavors. In her work reviewing grants for the Oregon Community Foundation, she is constantly exposed to fresh ideas from all corners of the state. “There are lots of creative people out there doing good stuff for their communities, programs that are fiscally responsible.”
A Passion for Education
The longtime West Salem resident has impressive academic credentials. She was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate in biochemistry at University of California at Berkeley and earned a DDS from UCLA Dental School. She has high respect for community colleges while serving on the Chemeketa Foundation Board. “Chemeketa is a great community resource,” she says. “It’s there to help people get a leg up. It’s there for so many to re-start their education and be on the way to a brighter future.”
At 64, Selma is a life-long learner with a voracious appetite for knowledge and a willingness to add new skills. She even took computer and photography courses at Chemeketa not long ago, “and they were challenging,” she says with a smile. Education issues are a priority.
She says the greatest treasure of her childhood was a library card. The library card revealed worlds ready to be explored beyond her family and school experiences.
The Decision to Run for the Legislature
She says touring the state during her husband’s run for governor in 2016 was enjoyable and inspirational.
The impetus to run for the Legislature was ignited, in part, from a prompting from her 91-year-old mother. “My mom in her prime was quite a go-getter and always looked to better herself. Mom went from working in a factory canning pineapple to being a computer systems analyst. Last December, Selma’s mom said ‘You should run.’ Mom and Dad were always encouraging me to get out there and do something useful.”
“Making substantive change isn’t as easy as filling a cavity,” she says. “I understand that. But we need to get the big aircraft carrier of government moving. Let’s start by doing things that are practical.”
So says Selma Pierce, a plain-spoken optimist who believes we can and should do more for the betterment of all
Born: San Francisco, CA
Parents: Lawrence P. Moon-Auditor for State Hospitals (State of California)
Priscilla Moon-Systems Analyst, Payroll (Federal Government)
Education: University of California, Berkeley –BA in Biochemistry
University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dentistry—DDS
Awards: University of California Regents’ Scholar
Phi Beta Kappa, UC Berkeley
Work History: General Dentist
Award: Dentist of the Year, FHP Medical Center
Family: Married to William “Bud” Pierce, MD, PhD (37 years)
Children: Kristina –Physician Assistant
Pets: 2 dogs (yellow labs)
1 calico cat
Medical Teams International Dental Van Dentist
Salem-Keizer School District Dental Screening Program Volunteer Coordinator
Marion Polk Dental Society Dental Day Free Clinic Coordinator
Mission of Mercy (Salem) Community Lead
Mission of Mercy (Portland) Dentist
Marion-Polk Dental Society Board of Directors-Polk County Representative
Medical Foundation of Marion Polk Counties—Medassist/Project Access
Oregon Community Foundation Leadership Council
Oregon Community Foundation Volunteer Grant Evaluator
Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Inspire Foundation Board Member/Secretary
Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Salem-Keizer School District Advisory Council
Assistance League of Salem-Keizer member/volunteer/supporter
Community Connect volunteer
OHSU Foundation Board of Trustees
Oregon Tech (formerly OIT)/Chemeketa Community College Dental Hygiene Program Advisory Board
Chemeketa Community College Foundation Board – VP
Salem Leadership Foundation Advisory Board
Mayor of Salem International Council
First Christian Church of Salem Deacon
North Salem High School math volunteer
Bud Pierce for Governor Campaign Social Media Manager
President’s Award, Blanchet Catholic School
Salem Area Chamber of Commerce First Citizen Award
City of Salem Willard C. Marshall Special Citizen Award
Senate Bill 4, Community Service Recognition by the Oregon State Senate