Husky Leadership Initiative

2021 Leadership Fireside Speakers

The Husky Leadership Initiative present:

Leadership Firesides 2021: Leadership in a Time of Disillusionment

*We welcome UW students/faculty/staff who would like to drop in on a specific Leadership Fireside session outside of the course structure. Please fill out this Interest Form if you would like to visit a specific session and we will send you the zoom link.

April 8: Kim Wyman, Washington Secretary of State

Kim Wyman, Washington Secretary of State

Kim Wyman is Washington’s 15th Secretary of State. First elected in 2012, she is only the second female Secretary of State in Washington’s history. Prior to being elected to this office, Kim served as Thurston County Elections Director for nearly a decade and served three terms as the elected Thurston County Auditor (2001-2013).

As head of one of the most diverse offices in state government, Secretary Wyman is responsible for overseeing state and local elections, corporation and charity filings, the Washington State Library, the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library, and the Washington State Archives.

Secretary Wyman is committed to promoting civility and civic engagement, and connecting people with their government. She serves on many state and national boards, enjoys mentoring students, participates in leadership-development organizations, and advocates for preserving and teaching our history and traditions, and the importance of civics education and volunteering in our communities.

A leader of national renown, Secretary Wyman often shares Washington’s award-winning, innovative election administration and cybersecurity practices with organizations across the country. Her office led the successful statewide effort to modernize and secure the state’s election infrastructure and continues to focus on securing elections in 2020 and beyond.

Secretary Wyman graduated from California State University Long Beach and earned her master’s degree in Public Administration from Troy State University. City University of Seattle awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in Leadership in 2015. She received CERA certification from The Election Center and Auburn University in 2004, and has been a Washington State Certified Election Administrator since 1995.

Kim and her husband John came to Washington when he was assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Fort Lewis after being stationed in Ansbach, Germany. They live in Thurston County and have two adult children.

April 15: Joy Williamson-Lott, Dean of the Graduate School, University of Washington

Joy Williamson-Lott, Dean of the Graduate School, University of Washington

Joy Williamson-Lott is a professor and previously an associate dean in the College of Education, an accomplished scholar and researcher in the field of American higher education, and a committed advocate for equity and diversity in higher education. She is the author of several books examining black higher educational history and the black freedom struggle, including her most recent book, “Jim Crow Campus: Higher Education and the Struggle for a New Southern Social Order.” Her teaching focuses on education as a moral endeavor, the shifting definition of “proper education” and “liberation” for different social groups, and the educational histories of people of color.

Dr. Williamson-Lott was awarded the UW’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2010 and received the Mildred Garcia Award for Early Career Exemplary Scholarship from the Association for the Study of Higher Education, among numerous awards and recognitions

“I am excited to work with colleagues across our three campuses to ensure that our graduate students, professional students and postdoctoral fellows get the most out of their Husky Experience, and that they are well prepared to act as global citizens and leaders who enrich society and use rigorous research to devise solutions to today’s pressing problems,” Williamson-Lott said.

Williamson-Lott earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and speech communications, and her master’s degree and doctorate in the history of American Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining the UW faculty in 2007, she served on the faculty at the Stanford University School of Education.

April 22: Brandon K. Hersey, District VII Director, Seattle School Board

Brandon K. Hersey, District VII Director, Seattle School Board

Director Hersey was appointed by the School Board to represent District VII, which includes Southeast Seattle, in September 2019. The District VII seat became vacant after the resignation of Betty Patu. Director Hersey will serve on the board in the District VII position for the remainder of Director Patu’s term, which concludes with the November 2021 election.

“I was raised in a family of proud black educators. Before she passed away, my mother taught history at my hometown high school where my sister currently serves as assistant principal. Throughout my childhood, I saw the lifelong impact that a teacher of color can have on students from marginalized communities.

“Like many families of color, education was our sole means of mobility and opportunity. As an educator myself, I work to provide that same access and opportunity to my students. However, factors such as institutional racism, income inequality and inequitable practices, place students of color further away from educational equity and justice.

“March 2019, the Seattle School Board approved a strategic plan that sets the goals and vision of our district. It codified the commitment to narrowing opportunity gaps, ensuring access and providing excellence in education for every student, especially boys of color. To fully realize this vision, we need leadership that reflects the communities it aspires to serve and to hold itself accountable to its mission.

“As a black man, educator, and union member, I humbly seek this opportunity to advocate for the students and families of south Seattle as the District 7 Board Director.

“In the classroom, I have learned the profound effect that leadership and policy founded in equity can have on students. The students in our district need curriculum that reflects their culture, identity and lived experiences. I have learned that if our state continues to fail to fully fund education, we must go to Olympia and fight for it. Our community needs leaders with classroom experience who are willing to advocate for the students, families and educators of south Seattle. I will bring these lessons to the Seattle School Board in order to create effective policy to fully accomplish the vision of the Strategic Plan. As a former policy analyst for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, I’m uniquely qualified to develop and evaluate policy in the interest of our students.

“South Seattle is my home. I’m committed to ensuring that all of our kids have bright futures. I serve as a scoutmaster to Troop 008 in Rainier Beach, an African American scout troop. I’ve watched these young men develop into future leaders. I want that same vision of opportunity and prosperity for every child in District 7 and beyond.

“I will work with my fellow board directors to narrow the opportunity gap, champion an ethnic studies curriculum that details the rich history of the communities in our city and develop both social and fiscal policy that supports our students, as well as their families and educators.

“As a board, we have the responsibility to improve the educational outcomes for our students. I will be a leader who brings the experience of working directly with students and families, the experience of developing complex policy and who is a member of the communities most deserving of educational justice. I would be honored to have your support.”

(Source: Seattle Public Schools website)

April 29: David A. Fahrenthold, Reporter, Washington Post

David A. Fahrenthold, Reporter, Washington Post

David A. Fahrenthold is a reporter covering the Trump family and its business interests. He has been at The Washington Post since 2000, and previously covered Congress, the federal bureaucracy, the environment and the D.C. police. Fahrenthold is also an on-air contributor to NBC News and MSNBC.

Education: Harvard University, B.A. in history, 2000.

Honors & Awards:

Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, 2017

May 6: Naomi Ishisaka, Assistant Managing Editor for Diversity, Inclusion and Staff Development and the Social Justice Columnist, The Seattle Times

Naomi Ishisaka, Assistant Managing Editor for Diversity, Inclusion and Staff Development and the Social Justice Columnist for The Seattle Times

Naomi Ishisaka is the Assistant Managing Editor for Diversity, Inclusion and Staff Development and the Social Justice Columnist for The Seattle Times. She is a journalist and photographer who focuses on racial equity and social justice. Through writing and photography, Ishisaka documents social justice movements, issues and events. In 2020, she was awarded first place in the Best in the West competition for Special Topics Column Writing for her work in The Seattle Times. Her writing and photography have appeared in The Seattle Times, Seattle Magazine, City Arts, ColorsNW Magazine, Seattle Globalist, South Seattle Emerald, Heart and Science Magazine and many other publications.

Ishisaka served for eight years as the Editor in Chief of the award-winning ColorsNW Magazine, a monthly magazine focusing on communities of color in the Northwest.

Ishisaka is a Seattle native and worked at several Puget Sound newspapers, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The News Tribune and the Bremerton Sun.

Her documentary photography of the Seattle Black Lives Matter movement is featured in a number of shows and galleries as well as in Ava DuVernay’s documentary film “13th.” Her photography is part of the City of Seattle’s permanent collection and she was selected for the Office of Arts and Culture’s Ethnic Artist Roster.

She was an Institute for Justice and Journalism Fellow studying immigration and border issues and was a Spring 2005 fellow of the German Marshall Fund and traveled throughout Europe. She was a 2015 fellow of the International Center for Journalists Health Disparities program. Ishisaka’s journalism education includes editing training at the Dow Jones Copy Editing Program, the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism’s Immigration program, the Minority Editorial Writers Seminar and she is a graduate of the Asian American Journalist Association’s Executive Leadership Program.

Ishisaka is a frequent speaker at media workshops and community events. Launched in 2001, ColorsNW won over 50 awards in the Society of Professional Journalists Western Washington Competition and Ishisaka won five first place awards for editorial writing, feature writing and commentary. Ishisaka is a graduate of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., and has a B.A. in ethnic studies and journalism.

May 13: Jaimée Marsh, Executive Director, FEEST

Jaimée Marsh, Executive Director, FEEST

Jaimée Marsh specializes in community organizing, organizational capacity building, and social identity development. For over 15 years, they applied this skill set to build community, shift power to youth, and drive policy change, particularly with/for queer and trans people of color. Jaimée is an alum of the University of Michigan and University of Washington Schools of Social Work where they deepened their passion for cultivating and curating creative spaces that center radical joy and healing, as well as fostering sustained partnerships between school systems and the community at large. Currently, Jaimée serves as Executive Director of FEEST, a non-profit organization that centers youth as leaders in changing school food systems in Seattle and South King County. In their personal life, Jaimée is a cheese enthusiast who loves cooking at home as much as travel and food adventures.

May 20: Maria Abando, Fundraising and Community, Common Power

Maria Abando, Fundraising and Community, Common Power

Maria was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. She is a first generation college graduate from the University of Washington, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Biology. Maria’s identity as both a Black and Filipino young woman drove her desire to explore intersections of identities, ideas, and experiences, through her work in activism and community organizing. Her previous professional work includes research at the UW Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, organizing for the 2017 King County “Access for All” ballot initiative, and most recently program and fund development work at Humanities Washington. In 2018 Maria served as the Nevada State Captain for Common Purpose, and led teams to Reno and Las Vegas to register voters and support key campaigns. Common Purpose allows Maria to put her passions to work in engaging with and improving our democracy. She is motivated by increasing equity in education and health, economic and environmental justice, and the liberation of marginalized communities everywhere. Maria is also a visual artist, and puts creativity and connections to people at the center of all her work.


May 27: Jason McGill, Executive Director, Northwest Youth Services

Jason McGill, Executive Director, Northwest Youth Services

Jason McGill is the Executive Director of Northwest Youth Services. Previously he was a Community Advocate and Associate Director at YouthCare’s University District Youth Center (UDYC). He first became involved in efforts to address homelessness after working many years in a behavioral hospital setting and witnessing the revolving door to treatment with many patients who identified as homeless.



June 03: Gino Aisenburg, Co-Director / Faculty, Latino Center for Health / School of Social Work

Gino Aisenburg, Co-Director / Faculty, Latino Center for Health / School of Social Work

Dr. Gino Aisenberg is a bilingual/bicultural Latino mental health researcher. His interests focus on three interrelated areas: 1) traumatic exposure of children and families to community violence, including effects at the individual, family and neighborhood levels, 2) depression care for adults, and 3) evidence-based practice.

Born and raised in South-Central Los Angeles, Dr. Aisenberg has extensive clinical experience as a practitioner in the areas of child abuse and community violence experienced by African-American and Latino children and families. Also, he possesses a wealth of experience addressing grief and loss and has specialized training in cognitive behavioral therapy for low-income individuals suffering depression. Dr. Aisenberg has worked in schools, hospitals and community-based organizations.

Dr. Aisenberg’s teaching, research and scholarship are deeply informed by culture and context. They emanate from a staunch commitment to marginalized and diverse populations—to promote inclusion of their voices and to address disparities in the access and utilization of mental health services. Dr. Aisenberg is engaged in important partnerships with community-based agencies serving rural and marginalized communities. He is the chair of the School’s Community-Centered Integrative Practice Concentration.

In 2013, Dr. Aisenberg was named associate dean of the UW Graduate School with responsibility to promote and advance diversity and inclusion across graduate programs of study. In 2012, he was named the Graduate School’s inaugural leadership professor. His responsibilities included assisting with the Graduate School’s outreach efforts in support of diversity and helping design and develop additional diversity-related initiatives.

Dr. Aisenberg is the founding co-director of the Latino Center for Health, an interdisciplinary, community engaged research center invested in promoting the health and well-being of Latinos through collaborative research, policy and practice efforts. The Latino Center for Health is the first research center in Washington state to focus on the health of the Latino community. It was launched in 2014 and received funding from the Washington state legislature in 2015.

In 2009, Dr. Aisenberg received the University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Award for his excellence in teaching as well as his exemplary commitment to mentoring students, particularly ethnic minority students. He is a member of several organizations including the Society for Social Work and Research, the Council for Social Work Education, and the Association of Latino Social Work Educators.