Important News from the Washington Bus

Executive Director’s Announcement

 

To the Bus family,

I’m writing to share that I will be stepping down from my role as Executive Director of The Washington Bus by the end of this year. I am so proud of what we’ve achieved over the last two years. In 2017, we hosted Candidate Survivor, the largest candidate forum in the state for the Seattle mayoral election. This legislative session, our work with The Washington Voting Justice Coalition helped pass Automatic Voter Registration, Same Day Voter Registration, and Pre-Registration for 16- and 17-year olds, a major step forward in reducing barriers to voting in our state. This summer, we welcomed 14 impressive young people to our Fellowship alumni. I’m honored to be part of this growing network, now 169 people strong.

As I look ahead, I couldn’t be more excited for the Bus’s future. We’re refining our winning strategies for voter engagement, building momentum for a new strategic plan, and recruiting new expertise to our Board of Directors. It’s been an honor to work with a staff of talented young people so dedicated to fulfilling our mission. As always, the Bus will continue to support the leadership of young people from underrepresented communities: people of color, young women, LGBTQ+ youth, working class youth, and first-generation students.

I’m grateful for the support of our board as we work closely together on a transition plan over the coming months. I’m committed to supporting our staff and board in this process through the election season to ensure we end this year stronger than ever and ready to tackle 2019 and beyond. I am also grateful to all our volunteers, donors, alumni, and friends for your unwavering support of the Bus. This community is what makes this work possible. We still need you — there is so much more to come.

Yours,

Emilio R. Garza

 

A Personal Message from the Board of Directors

 

On behalf of the Washington Bus Board of Directors, we want to share our utmost gratitude to Emilio Garza for his leadership as Executive Director over the past two years. In driving the Bus, Emilio has both embodied our values holistically and helped to accomplish significant victories for the communities we serve and their ability to take part in the political process. As a longtime member of the Bus family, Emilio has given us a chance to benefit from his passion and dedication to making the Bus a better, more welcoming place for all. His meaningful collaboration with community partners has led to momentous wins in increasing political access and participation, not just for young people, but for all people in Washington State. Under his leadership, we’ve seen the Bus grow and mature into a place where our expertise in the field is undoubted. His contributions to the Bus, in both concrete wins and culture, will leave a meaningful legacy for our community.

While we will be sad to see Emilio go after this year’s election, we are excited to watch the next part of this journey unfold – for both him and the Bus. We look forward to celebrating Emilio’s tenure as Executive Director at this year’s Victory Fund event on October 16th at FareStart in the Pacific Tower at 6PM. We hope you can be there. Please join us in expressing our deepest gratitude to Emilio for his leadership and his continued partnership to ensure success in November and beyond.

Please feel free to reach us directly with any questions or thoughts. Sera can be reached at sera.day@gmail.com and Aaron at robertsonaaronb@gmail.com. Victory Fund event details and registration can be found here.

With gratitude,

Seferiana Day and Aaron Robertson

Washington Bus and Washington Bus Education Fund Board Presidents

Fellowship Alumni Spotlight

Fellowship Alumni Spotlight

As the 2018 Fellowship approaches we want to take a moment to spotlight some of our Former Fellows! It has been the ultimate #TBT reflecting on the amazing work they accomplished and the relationships they built during their time at the Bus. We are inspired by the impact former fellows continue to make as active and vibrant members of the community. Our Fellowship Alumni will always hold a special place in our hearts and are an invaluable part of our Bus family.

 

 

Seferiana (Sera) Day
Fellowship Class of 2010

Sera, who grew up in central California, moved to Seattle in 2005. Sera got word of the Bus while she was in graduate school for social work at the University of Washington when the Bus made a special visit to her Youth Empowerment class.

Sera’s favorite memory of her time at the fellowship is when the Fellows raced to the Greenwood Senior Center for the Social Security Birthday Party, to meet Senator Patty Murray. During the event, Sera was bestowed a “The only Rossi I trust is Carlo” t-shirt, which she loved and promptly hid.

About what the Fellowship means to her, “The Bus fellowship really gave me a foundation for Washington State politics and all that goes into running a campaign. It gave me an appreciation for grassroots organizing and field and helped me to build my network of politicos. I’d say it solidified my trajectory into politics.”

After the fellowship and graduate school, Sera went on to be a community and labor organizer at Working Washington and SEIU 775. She then ran Pramila Jayapal’s state senate race in 2014 and worked for Councilmember Tim Burgess as a legislative assistant for three years before joining him as a policy advisor in the Mayor’s Office for 71 days. In January 2018 Sera co-founded Charles – Day Strategic, a political consulting firm centering candidates and communities of color. In April she will return to the City of Seattle’s Information Technology department as the Community Technology Outreach Coordinator, engaging community and tech partners to increase digital access and equity across the city. Sera is also a proud board member of the Bus, and we are incredibly grateful for all the work she has done for our organization in enhancing the voices of young people in our communities.

On why people should join the Fellowship Program, “The fellowship is an amazing opportunity to meet other interesting, motivated, politically and social justice- minded young people and to begin building a network of people invested in your success and growth.”

You go, Sera!

Goodbye to our 2017 Fellowship Class

Goodbye to our 2017 Fellowship Class <3

For the past ten-weeks, all 15 Fellows poured their energy into leading some of the most important campaigns in our area: De-Escalate Washington I-940, Decline to Sign I-1552, Washington Voting Justice, and banning conversion therapy in Renton.

Combined, the Fellows obtained over 3,000 signatures and registered dozens of new voters. This translated into over 3,000 individual conversations around LGBTQIA+ advocacy, voting access, and police accountability.

For those who have ever lead campaigns, you know first hand the difficulties of creating field plans, pulling turf, lobbying elected officials, and canvassing. These tasks were no exceptions for this Fellowship class. Through extreme canvassing temperatures, difficult conversations around oppression, and yes even rejection out on the field, the Fellows continued to be intentional and committed to their campaigns. Nothing wavered them. They went out into the field every week engaging young people and pushing forth progressive policies.

This last Sunday was the final day for the 8th Washington Bus Fellowship Class. It was a bittersweet moment. What started with 15 Fellows sitting around our conference table in the office, nervously making small talk ended with a deep commitment to each other, an understanding of collective healing, and passion for building people-led power. I know they will go back to their schools, workplaces, and communities to continue to put into practice what they learned this summer.

I have said this before, and I will say it again, with these Fellows out in our communities we are going to be ok. The social equity change we want to see will happen. Follow the work they will be doing in their communities.

Read statements from the Fellows below to get a glimpse at their experience this summer.

-Cinthia Illan-Vazquez, Fellowship Organizer

And a word from the incredible staff who led our summer Fellowship program…

Get Out That Vote!

Get Out That Vote!

Thirsty Thursday blog post reminding you to VOTE! #knowledgeresponsibly

The deadline to vote for the primary election is August 1st. Don’t forget to mail your ballot or drop it in a nearby dropbox!

Your vote really matters – in state and local elections just a few hundred votes can make the difference. If you live in Seattle, you’ll be helping to narrow down a crowded mayoral primary from 21 candidates down to 2! Plus, voting to determine whether we should create and fund a cultural access program expanding students and underserved populations’ access to arts, science, and heritage programming in King County, as well as voting on a county Executive and city councilmembers.

The Bus was out this weekend doing our part to make sure young people are turning out for elections large and small.

In order to make politics fun and accessible, we meet young folks where they are – and sometimes that means music festivals! This past weekend the Bus brought out Fellows, interns, and a ton of volunteers to canvass at Capitol Hill Block Party, making sure young folks at the festival were registered to vote and reminding them to turn in their ballots.

In the booth we had a station to make your own buttons, candy, and make-your-own-meme cutouts. While people learned about the Bus and had some fun with us, we made sure their voter registration was up to date, reminded them to turn their ballots in, and engaged them around voting access issues with a survey gauging public support for several strategies that can make voting easier, such as pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds, automatic voter registration, pre-paid postage, same-day voter registration and language accessibility. By gathering information on the survey, we hope that we can impact the voting systems and make it more accessible. *And it turns out emojis are a very effective tool of measurement everyone can relate to.

Many people consider politics to be something serious and unapproachable, and we want to break down barriers that prevent people from fully participating in our democracy. We can express our values, achieve our goals, and make our communities better through voting. While we tackle serious issues, we still want to make sure people associate politics with something fun, something they want to be a part of.

Here I ask again, please get out to vote! Voting matters to you. Voting matters to the community. Voting matters to the entire city and state. Let’s make our voices heard!

This blog post was written by the Bus’s Duke Engage interns, Debra and Anqi.