We celebrated another year of organizing and movement building at Washington CAN! at our Annual Social Justice Breakfast. Grassroots members, community partners and guests came together to reflect on the successes from last year, honor some of our members for their outstanding leadership throughout the year and hear inspiring words to outline the work ahead.
Our keynote speaker this year was Ai-jen Poo, the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the co-director of Caring Across Generations, a national campaign focused on transforming the long-term care system. Ai-jen reminded us of the power of local and state-wide organizing, especially when it comes to shifting policies on the national level.
Finally, we took time to honor a few of our members who have gone above and beyond this year fighting for justice in healthcare, tax fairness, the foreclosure crisis and immigration reform. See their profiles below.
Pastor Willis is a champion for civil and human rights whose work in the community is far-reaching. He’s the Senior Pastor of True Vine of Holiness Church in South Seattle. He serves as President of the United Black Christian Clergy of WA, where he leads 18 churches throughout the greater Seattle area. Pastor Willis is also the founder of the LoveTo Program, which helps to build a supportive community for people who were formerly incarcerated. His focused and faithful leadership has led him to be one of the most respected religious leaders in the region. Pastor Lawrence Willis leads with vision, a willingness to work, and a commitment to teach and encourage people to follow a spiritual path to social justice.
Rarely do we meet people who will fight as hard for justice as Mila, or do so with such joy. Every time we march, protest, lobby, or rally, Mila is there. She has testified in front of City Council to stop the foreclosure crisis, spoken at press conferences with Senator Patty Murray to protect Social SecurityPatty Murray to protect Social Security Patty Murray to protect Social Security and shared her story at countless rallies to hold corporations accountable. She is also tireless behind the scenes. She phone banks, recruits other members, helps steer the work of the organization on our Statewide Leadership Council, and is constantly thinking about ways she can build Washington CAN! and the movement.Patty Murray to protect Social Security,
Laura is a member of Washington CAN! and Main Street Alliance of Washington, Washington CAN!’s sister organization of small business owners. This year Laura and her husband and partner in crime, Jay, are celebrating the 17th anniversary of their automotive shop, Jay’s Professional Automotive in Renton. Laura first gained national attention when in newspaper pages and on evening-news segments she proclaimed: “health reform saved my auto-shop.” Hers—and all of ours—are the voices that the powerful and the media need to hear. Over the last year and much longer, Laura Waite of Renton has achieved something remarkable: her story is shaping the debate about health care, taxes, earned benefits like Social Security and Medicare. Laura was featured in the Huffington Post, and the Seattle Times where she shared her take on Obamacare implementation and why it matters.
Since we began organizing in Eastern Washington, Aaron has been there through thick and thin. He is always there to phonebank, to table, to protest and to meet with the local and statewide leadership councils to plan our next steps. He is a gifted photographer and videographer, and has become our media when the mainstream media doesn’t show up – he takes pictures at every event, produces videos from our actions, and promotes the work of other Washington CAN! leaders.
In the fight against foreclosure, she has organized community meetings in West Seattle, testified at City Council, and stood up to Attorney General Eric Holder – even spending the night in a Washington, D.C. jail in a protest demanding principal reduction for underwater homeowners. Vera has also been a champion for health care reform, and is planning to share her story as one of the first people to enroll in health coverage on October 1. This is all in addition to raising her two children.
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