The 36th Legislative District is one of the most progressive, dynamic and thoughtful communities in our state. But affordability issues are crushing our region and our future. Working families are struggling to pay for quality child care and access a decent public education. We must act now to protect our beautiful landscape from the devastating effects of climate change. And it’s time to prioritize rebuilding healthy communities and getting people back to work.
As a working mom, nonprofit executive director, and someone who has been a champion for women in leadership my entire career, I understand the impact these issues are having on people in our community. I am a proven progressive leader who knows how to get things done. And that’s why I am running for State House.
I grew up in Arizona, where my father fought insurance companies as a trial lawyer and my mother fought for public education as a schoolteacher. I answered phones and filed paperwork at my dad’s law practice, a small business that fought for working people. My parents were blue-blood Democrats in what I call Red-zona.
I got my first introduction to politics when my mom ran and won a seat on the local school board in 1988. I was five years old and my sister, Page, was three. I still remember knocking on doors, stuffing envelopes and putting up yard signs. My parents taught me about fairness, justice and standing up for those who have no voice.
I knew I wanted to learn more about politics, so I went to Washington, DC to study at American University. My junior year, I went abroad to Namibia, South Africa and Belgium. I interned for the first woman Mayor of Cape Town and worked the political desk at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels. After college I started at the Women’s Campaign Fund, helping to elect women to public office – a passion that sticks with me to this day.
In 2007, I took a job working for a little known newly elected Congresswoman from Southern Arizona named Gabby Giffords. She was a Democrat representing a Republican district. I worked for Gabby throughout her tenure in Congress, lastly as her Legislative Director.
And then it happened. On Jan. 8, 2011, the nation watched in horror as a gunman shot Gabby, our staff and constituents. My friend and colleague Gabe Zimmerman, Gabby’s outreach director, was 30. We share the same birthday and started on the same day in Gabby’s office in January 2007. He was the first Congressional staffer killed in the line of duty. Five other people died. Christina-Taylor Green was just nine years old when she was killed.
This experience touched my life in a profound way. Watching Gabby fight for her recovery over the last nine years and continue to fight to prevent the escalation of gun violence taught me about resilience, hard work and grit.
Years before working for Gabby, I had fallen in love with my husband, Michael, a third-generation Washingtonian. He wouldn’t stop talking about how the Pacific Northwest was the greatest place on earth. So in June 2011, we moved to Seattle and I quickly fell in love with the people and Washington’s stunning landscape. I knew we would raise our family here and build a life together. I also knew I wanted to keep fighting for the issues I care so deeply about.
I worked as a campaign manager to elect progressives and women to public office. I also became the president of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, the state’s oldest organization dedicated solely to recruiting and electing women to public office. I tripled our fundraising and built a mission to recruit more women of color to run for office. I raised money for women so we could recruit more women to run. I also proudly served on the board of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, where I advocated for candidates who would fight for reproductive justice.
In 2013, I was afforded an opportunity to work alongside one of the most respected government affairs teams in our state: the Washington State Association for Justice. As the daughter of a trial lawyer, I knew what the right to trial by jury meant for working people who are trying to fight back against Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and unscrupulous corporations. I was later selected after a national search to become executive director, a position I now proudly hold. Last year, our organization, alongside a committed coalition of brave families, corrected a longstanding injustice and reformed the state’s wrongful death law. Washington parents of adult children killed by preventable negligence now have equal rights under the law.
Throughout my life, I have always been moved to stand up for what I believe. In January 2017, I was spurred to action by attending the Women’s March after I became a mother with the birth of my son George. When I became a parent, I instantly understood the stakes of our future at a personal level. And last year, Michael and I welcomed our daughter Eleanor into the world.
I’ve spent much of my adult life supporting and recruiting women to run for public office. Now I’m taking my own advice. I am running to fight for fairness, lift up working families and children, and bring affordability back to our region. I will stand up for the progressive values that have guided me my whole life as a working mom, nonprofit leader, and champion for creating pathways for women to have a seat at the table. I am excited and proud to be running for the State House of Representatives to represent you in Olympia.