Hi, I'm Jessie.

My mission is to provide Multnomah County’s District 2 with meaningful representation that will guide Multnomah County toward a balanced ecosystem, where residents, workers and business owners alike can enjoy a good quality of life one, a healthy economy, and easy access to the services provided by the County. Citizens deserve a safe, healthy and fair community with a responsive government.


Jessie owns and operates The Society Hotel in Portland, Oregon (established 2015) and Bingen, Washington (established 2019). Together with her husband, Jonathan Cohen, they purchased and developed both properties. Jessie also founded and operated Posies Bakery and Café in the Kenton neighborhood from 2008-2020. Prior to starting her own business, Jessie worked as the Education Coordinator for the Native American Youth and Family Center, and as an after school tutor at Roosevelt High School.


Jessie received her B.S. of Education from Pennsylvania State University, with a minor in Education Theory and Policy. She received her Masters of Public Administration from Portland State University with a focus on Strategic Planning and Community Development. Jessie restarted the Kenton Business Association in 2008 and served as President from 2008-2013, and has served as Chair of the Old Town Community Association from 2020-Present.

Dr. Betty Lee Sung teaching at City College in New York in 1972. She was the founding professor in its Asian Studies program. (Jack Manning / The New York Times)

Family History

My path to Portland, Oregon has been a meandering one.

My maternal grandfather, Milton Lee Sung, fled mainland China via boat to Seattle with his sisters, Rose and Betty Lee, and eventually studied aeronautical engineering at Howard University. He met my maternal grandmother, and despite the challenges of interracial marriage in the late 1940s: had three children together. My grandfather worked as an air traffic controller and later as a scientist at NASA, where he faced credit theft due to his Chinese heritage. On the other side, my paternal grandfather, James Burke, overcame a physical disability and pursued a successful career in music, playing at Radio City Music Hall and eventually becoming a conductor.

My parents, with their unique backgrounds, met in New York City. They embarked on an adventure, trying to live a simple life raising pigs and goats in Elkins, WV, before moving to Baltimore due to job opportunities.

However, my father’s injury and subsequent nerve disease led to financial struggles. My mother juggled childcare, house cleaning, and caring for my siblings and me. At the age of 8, my father encouraged me to excel in a sport, leading me to take up fencing. This decision eventually took me to the national fencing stage, although I fell short of the Olympics. Instead, I pursued higher education at Penn State, where a swing dance event led me to meet the man who would become my husband

After graduating from Penn State with a degree in teaching, Jonathan and I would move to Portland, Oregon so he could pursue his dream of working in the green energy sector. I would go on to be an after school teacher at Roosevelt High School, and later the Education Coordinator for the Native American Youth and Family Center.

In 2006 I graduated from Portland State University with a Master’s of Public Administration with a focus on Strategic Planning and Community Development. After an internship at Prosper Portland, and a brief stint at an investment banking firm, I decided I needed to make a change. I knew I wanted to open my own business, but felt conflicted about feeling like maybe I was going backwards in my career. I remember the question I asked myself that helped me take the leap:

“Would you rather stay in one career your entire life and maybe reach the top? Or would you like to try everything you can before you die and probably never reach the top?”

To this question, it was a resounding “everything before I die.”

And that’s when I wrote the business plan for Posies Bakery & Cafe.

NW 3rd and Davis in Old Town / Chinatown. Portland, Oregon (Alex Hoxie)

My work in Chinatown

We bought the building at 203 NW 3rd from a Chinese tong. It was not for sale yet, but we reached out and they were happy that my family was Chinese and that it would stay in the Chinese community. The nephew of the last living member was also the postmaster at the Kenton post office near Posies, my coffee shop.

At our grand opening we had lion dancers at our celebration for good luck.

Over the years I was not too involved in the community association. But in 2020 Helen Ying resigned and I took over as chair of the Old Town Community Association. I required our board committees to create goals to accomplish each year, and we accomplished the following:

There’s a lot more advocacy happening, but these have been the big wins. – Jessie

• $500,000 in ARPA funds sponsored by Commissioner Mapps to replace missing trees, and put tree well covers over the roots so businesses could pressure wash the sidewalk and tree wells easily. It also includes giving businesses gates for their doorways and protective glass so the windows won’t break;
• A 90-day reset plan;
• $60,000 to install lanterns across the street as a pilot project because currently there is no permit for this to happen anywhere in the city. Once complete, people throughout the city will be able to have string lights or lanterns across their streets;
• Events and art openings for artists;
• A video filmed for Chinese New Year;
• Project management for the Golden Horse renovation.