March 2023 Newsletter: Meet some of the women shaping education in WA

Students in graduation robes

Director’s Note

As I reflect on Women’s History Month, I don’t have enough space to pay homage to all of the women who have played a critical role along my journey. After much reflection, I’ve whittled it down to two. First, I have to give props to the Queen…my Momma. In a world void of gender discrimination and classism, she would have been able to continue her education past 4th grade and become a CPA or bank executive. She is brilliant and a math whiz. Despite not getting access to education, she pushed her children to complete our education at the highest levels and for that, I’m grateful.

I’m writing about the next person with tears in my eyes as this is a posthumous nod to not just her mentorship, but her sponsorship. Dr. Mary Cullinan was the first female president of Eastern Washington University (after 132 years) who hired me fresh out of law school to be her chief advisor. She was also the first person to tell me that I needed to be a university president or CEO, but she did more than say those words. She identified what gaps I had in my leadership toolbox and then worked with me to map out a plan to get the experience under my belt.

As Equal Pay Day continues to be an issue for women, I honor women like my mother and Dr. Cullinan for paying it forward by sharing their hard-earned lessons and bringing support with it to allow me to thrive. I take seriously my responsibility to do the same and invite each of you to take a moment to think about how you are paying it forward.

Angela Jones
Director, Washington State Initiative

Women’s History Month: State Education Leader Reflections

"Enabling young women to dream beyond gender boundaries is an essential step towards creating a fair and equitable society." -Dr. Lori Hunt, Provost, Community Colleges of Spokane

For Women’s History Month, we wanted to hear more from the women in our state who are shaping the future of education. After reading their insights, we think you’ll understand why these women are mentors to many of us on the Washington State team.

Hear from four education leaders in Washington

Women’s History Month: Local Nonprofit Leader Reflections

"I look forward to Women's History Month and take the opportunity to lean about women from all walks of life and how they have contributed to society. I especially enjoy when light shines on women that have been overlooked." -Alaina Capoeman (Xoputse), Program Manager, Native Action Network

Our Community Engagement team asked two local nonprofit leaders to reflect on their career journeys and the women who inspire them. To Maria Chavez-Wilcox and Alaina Capoeman-Davis: thank you for all you do to empower women and strengthen communities.

Explore their reflections on Women’s History Month

Celebrating notable women in STEM

Illustration in women in STEM fields

All young people should be able to see themselves in future careers. That’s why Washington STEM profiles notable women in STEM careers, where significant gender gaps still exist today. Their goal is to help young women see a future in STEM. This recent profile of Manshi Naik should definitely draw in any space enthusiasts. When a tour of a NASA facility left Manshi awestruck, she knew she had to work in the aerospace industry. Manshi now develops procedures for engineering rockets. How cool is that?!

Check out more Notable Women in STEM

Community Spotlight: Concert inspires big donations

West Seattle Food Bank

The Boss (AKA Bruce Springsteen) was recently in Seattle for a concert. Not only did he put on an incredible show for those lucky enough to attend, he also inspired concert-goers to donate nearly $20,000 to the West Seattle Food Bank – one of our Community Engagement grantees. Those donations will help provide nourishing food for so many individuals in the region!

Learn how you can join the Boss and donate

Student Spotlight: Migrant students discover postsecondary pathways

Central Washington University students in front of a statue of their wildcat mascot.

In February, 38 first-generation migrant students in the Wenatchee School District took a road trip to Ellensburg to explore postsecondary options at Central Washington University. Getting to hear from other first-gen students who were now succeeding in college was one of the highlights of the trip. Students also appreciated learning more about the contributions of migrants to Central Washington.

Read more student reflections from the trip

Your Questions, Answered.

Every month, we’ll answer your questions about our Washington state work.

Q: What specific local policies are being addressed to remove barriers for young people?

A: The short answer: we plan to support regions to better understand student and family barriers. Maybe there isn’t a region-wide culture or clear pathways that prepare high school students for the next step. Maybe families need more financial aid information. We can’t help regions adapt existing policies and programs if we don’t know which problems they need to solve. This will be a significant focus of our work this year, when we launch a learning network to support regional collaborations across the state–all united by the goal of increasing postsecondary enrollment for local students.

Got Additional Questions?

Do you have questions about our new education strategy in Washington state? You can submit them here. We’ll continue to answer the most-asked questions in future editions.

What We’re Reading

Read next

February 2023 Newsletter: What Black History Month means to me

Black History Month is a time of reverence, homage, and celebration.

January 2023 Newsletter: New year with a new strategy

You’re probably wondering: what’s next for our work? We’re figuring out the best way for the foundation to launch and support a learning network focused on postsecondary enrollment.

July 2022 Newsletter: Reflecting on our region’s COVID response

Back in early 2020 (which feels like a decade ago in pandemic years), it was becoming clear that COVID-19 would hit close to home. Given that the first case of COVID-19 in the United States was in Kirkland, we could feel the storm coming. We couldn’t sit on the sidelines, which is why our co-chairs, Bill and Melinda, didn’t hesitate to approve funding to help our neighbors in Washington state.