Jim Hill was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1947, and raised there by his single mother. After growing up in the segregated South, he received a BA in economics from Michigan State University in 1969, an MBA from Indiana University in 1971, and a JD from Indiana University College of Law in 1974.
Attracted by Oregon’s progressive politics, Jim moved to Salem in 1974. There he raised a bi-racial daughter, Jennifer, and worked as an Assistant Attorney General at the Oregon Department of Justice. He went on to become an Oregon State Representative in 1983 and an Oregon State Senator in 1987.
Jim became the first person of color to be elected to a statewide office in Oregon, serving two terms as State Treasurer beginning in 1993. During his tenure in this position, he oversaw an improvement of the state’s bond rating and the creation of the Oregon Growth Account—an investment program exclusively dedicated to providing seed and venture capital dollars to Oregon businesses.