Debra Hargett was born in Oregon and raised in a small town. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Oregon State and a master’s in social work from Portland State University. She has worked in law enforcement and corrections since 1995, including roles as a surveillance officer, detention worker, corrections officer, and juvenile probation officer. Hargett is a certified gang specialist and has worked with gangs throughout her career.
Hargett has been recognized by the governor for her work with gangs and continues to provide gang education in schools. She created a successful program, Transitions, which helps felons reenter society after incarceration. The program helps them with resumes, interviews, and social skills. Hargett has worked with men and women in and out of the prison system for many years.
Her passion is to help people realize their strengths; to remove the labels and the stereotypes and write their own life stories. In addition to teaching at the UO and Lane Community College, Hargett teaches Zumba and weight training.