Who am I?

I am currently the Distinguished Taconic Fellow at the Center for Community Change and the Chair of We Belong Together, a national campaign on women and immigration that I direct. The campaign is co-anchored by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the National Asian-Pacific American Women’s Forum. I am also a Distinguished Fellow at the University of Washington Law School. I also serve as a Board Member of OneAmerica Votes, 21 Progress, The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, and Hedgebrook, a writing retreat for women writers.

I am an immigrant to America, coming to this country when I was 16 years old by myself to go to college at Georgetown University, where I earned a BA in English Literature with a minor in Economics. I also earned an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and worked on Wall Street and in the medical equipment industry before giving that up to devote my life to social justice.

For the past 20 years, I have worked in social justice, both internationally and domestically, and my experiences have ranged from working for Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), a large Seattle-based international health and reproductive rights nonprofit for four years; to living in villages in India for a fellowship from the Institute of Current World Affairs; to founding and running for the first 12 years Washington state’s largest immigrant advocacy organization, OneAmerica (first called Hate Free Zone). The organization was founded in the wake of 9/11 to respond to the hate crimes and civil liberties abuses against Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities. It continued to grow, to successfully fight to prevent the deportation of 4,000 Somalis across the country, including here in Seattle; to lead advocacy efforts on immigration reform at the state and federal levels; to help form a Governor’s New Americans Policy Council with Governor Gregoire (for which I was appointed to serve as Vice Chair) to help define the state’s policy on immigrant integration; to register and mobilize to vote 25,000 New American citizens across the state, the largest New American voter registration drive in the history of the state; and to further the participation of immigrants and refugees into our democracy through organizing and advocacy on numerous issues from education to housing to immigration reform.

I stepped down in 2012 to take on a fellowship and help start and grow a national campaign on gender and immigration, building on another strong area of interest with gender rights issues. Through the national campaign, I have helped build a strong coalition between women’s groups (Planned Parenthood, the YWCA, the National Organization for Women and others) and immigrant rights organizations and we have helped shape and redefine immigration as a women’s issue.

Why am I running?

I am running for State Senate in the 37th Legislative District and my platform is centered on shared prosperity and economic and social equity. I am deeply committed to helping workers organize into unions, and to ensuring that we are using every opportunity to bring forward the voices and contributions of workers of color, women, immigrants and refugees. The 37th district is one of the most diverse in our state; we deserve a strong progressive voice for working people to address the intersection of key issues that affect people’s lives: from jobs to housing to wages to education to transportation to civil rights. My past record of work has demonstrated how I would do this work: by bringing people together, being a principled but pragmatic voice for getting things done, organizing and advocating for the very diverse district that is the 37th district, and lifting up the voices and stories of working families across the district.

I am energized and ready to reach out to every single resident in the 37th during my campaign. I have a deep base of support in both labor and community, with a strong and diverse set of organizations and individuals supporting my campaign. I will target immigrants and refugees, young people, unregistered voters, and workers who typically don’t get a seat at the table. I have relationships with major nonprofit organizations and their leaders have offered me their personal support. All of the work we did at OneAmerica reached out specifically to immigrants in this district. This campaign will be an opportunity to reach out to and energize the participation and excitement of people who have lost hope to cynicism, who have never participated before because they don’t think their voices will be heard, who don’t know how to participate and make a difference. I want this campaign to remind everyone about why we need government and why government needs us.

My Goals

1. Ensuring that every person in the district has the supports and opportunities necessary to contribute their full selves to our communities. The 37th District is one of the most diverse in the state and its great people represent our future. We have an opportunity to show what it means to fight not only for a strong middle-class but also for pathways into the middle class. We are a district of the 99%, and I am committed to fighting for good jobs that can support people to make a living, raising the floor on the minimum wage, and to protecting safety net benefits for our most vulnerable. We are all better off when we are all better off—and I intend to fight for it. I recently served on the Mayor's Income Inequality Advisory Committee, where I worked with business and labor groups to craft a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Seattle, which will lift 100,000 people out of poverty.

2. Promoting the fact that government needs us and we need government. I truly believe that it is up to each and every one of us to stand together and make our voices heard. I have been a longtime advocate to make democracy real but engaging all of our diverse voices. I want to inspire or re-inspire people to believe that each one of us can make a difference when we engage, including voting. While Executive Director of OneAmerica, I oversaw the registration of 25,000 new voters, the largest voter registration drive in WA State history. I want to remind people that our democracy is only as good as our action to participate in that democracy. And I want to help move institutional structures that prevent people from participating, intentionally or un-intentionally. We have to show people what democracy looks like when we integrate, engage and lift up the many diverse voices of our district. I intend to run a campaign that not only elects me to office but builds a strong and expanded infrastructure that supports a continued progressive voice in Olympia on all the issues our district cares about.

3. Investing in opportunities for our children. Our children are our future and we must work together to create a better world for them. This starts with fully funding our public education system so they have the resources they need to succeed, maintaining our parks and open spaces so they have places to learn and play, and protecting our environment from the harmful effects of global warming. We also must close what I call the “opportunity gap”—the huge loss of contributions when we do not focus on ensuring that kids of color and low-income kids, in particular, have access to the kinds of education supports that they need. I intend to work hard to bring this opportunity gap into focus in the state legislature and devote attention and resources to it.

My DFA Values

My campaign embodies DFA's values by being a community-based campaign, a campaign that is dedicated to preserving the civil and human rights of all people, and a campaign that is focused on putting the needs of working families ahead of corporate interests.

I have dedicated the past 20 years to working for social justice, fighting for justice for survivors of domestic violence, for women's reproductive rights, and for comprehensive immigration reform on a state and national level. I have an incredible system of allies and supporters in the Seattle and 37th District community, who are an important part of this campaign.

I have long been a champion for equity and civil rights, and will continue to campaign on a platform that puts people before corporate profits, places school funding as a priority and is founded in progressive values.

My Campaign is People Powered!

I am an organizer at heart, and consider this campaign an opportunity to organize the 37th district and engage more people in the political process. First, my campaign organized 150 people to join the 37th District Democrats organization as dues-paying members. We are bringing new life into the district and excitement about getting involved in this election and bettering our community. Second, my campaign is volunteer and grassroots- powered. With the help of over 25 volunteers we have already knocked on over 2,000 doors. We are launching an internship program that will engage high school and college-aged young people in canvassing, social media management, and leadership development.

Voice support

Supporters:

  • Kamini Raghavan
  • Steve Williamson
  • Allison Green
  • Tyrone Turner
  • Chrissy Russillo
  • Ginny NiCarthy
  • Maralyn Chase
  • BJ Cummings
  • laurie bo roth
  • Pamela Blauman
...and 5 more.


About the Endorsement Process

The driving force behind all DFA endorsements is our members. We recognize that all politics is local and that what is considered progressive in Los Angeles may be very different from what's considered progressive in Louisville. For this reason, DFA does not have a litmus test of specific progressive positions for which a candidate must stand. Our endorsement is heavily weighted based on these questions:

• Will the candidate move the progressive movement forward in their community?
• Does the candidate have substantial support from our local members?
• Do the candidate's positions and policies fit into the broader progressive movement?
• Is the campaign people-powered and the candidate working to win?

If you have questions, or want to let us know about a candidate in your neighborhood, please call us at (802) 651-3200 or email us at [email protected] .

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