Paula Brooks' lifelong commitment to Ohio and its people was nurtured on a small family farm in East Liverpool, where she was born and raised. Paula's American roots date back to the American Revolution. Her family's ancestors settled the Ohio Valley after fighting for our nation's freedom. Her father was a World War II Navy veteran who worked for Bell Telephone after leaving the service, and her mother was a nurse. The oldest of five daughters, Paula was active in 4-H and her church's Youth Group. Although money was tight, her parents instilled in Paula a belief in the value of education, telling her, “Paula, get an education because no one can take that away from you.” Paula worked her way through college as a hairdresser. She went on to law school at Capital University, attending classes at night while working for Ohio's Attorney General during the day.
Paula moved to Central Ohio in 1975, where she met her husband Greg Kontras, the grandson of Greek immigrants; they raised two wonderful children, and now Charlie, a feisty five pound Yorkie, rounds out the family. In addition to her work as an attorney, Paula pursued her true passion for public service. An active member of her community, she has been a member of the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary, has served on the Board of Developmental Disabilities, as President of the Ohio State Bar Foundation and was a founding officer of Action for Battered Women in Ohio. From 1996 to 2004, she served on the Upper Arlington City Council, and in 1998 served as Vice Mayor of Upper Arlington. Paula used her time in those positions to stabilize the town's tax base and improve services.
In 2004, Paula was elected to the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and served as Board President in 2006, 2009, and in 2012. Her commitment to careful financial planning, including a fiscal sustainability resolution and debt policy, has allowed Franklin County to remain the only county in Ohio with a double AAA bond rating, allowing the county to invest responsibly while saving taxpayer dollars, and putting people to work. Her focused leadership has also been on sustainability initiatives ranging from conservation of the Great Darby Watershed, to energy independence and security initiatives, building an energy efficient LEED Gold Courthouse, to acting on the use of CNG for fuel and converting fleet vehicles to FlexFuel capabilities. Even pursuing simple energy efficiency measures like removing lighting from vending machines and switching out incandescent for CFL lighting have been details Paula pursued to save tax dollars, and create a healthier environment. In 2013, Franklin County, Ohio's second-largest county, was rated the fastest growing county in Ohio from July 2011 to July 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Since 2006, Paula has been a Director of the County Commissioners' Association of Ohio (CCAO) and served as President in 2010. She is a leader in the National Association of Counties (NACo) as Chair of its International Economic Development Task Force focused on increasing US exports. She is also Chair of the Energy Environment and Land Use steering committee's Energy/Renewables Subcommittee and Vice Chair of the public/private Green Government Initiative, partnering with, to name a few, EcoMedia, a subsidiary of CBS News and the United Soybean Board. Paula also championed the NACo free prescription drug card for Franklin County, saving residents over $2 million.
In 2000, Paula was selected by President Clinton's Secretary of Defense Cohen as a 3-star civilian advisor on the federal Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS). In that capacity, she advised the Secretary of Defense on troop readiness and issues facing military families, for both enlisted and officer ranks. She continues to advocate for veterans and their families. In 2012, she was invited to participate in the work of the Clinton Global Initiative - led by former President Bill Clinton - to explore, among several national issues, the efforts to transition veterans into the growing green jobs industry. In 2013, Paula proudly accepted a White House appointment to President Obama's Climate Preparedness and Resilience Task Force as Ohio's only representative. She joined 25 other governors, mayors, county officials, and tribal leaders from throughout the nation to present a report and recommendations on climate change preparedness and resilience to the President, and Vice President Biden.