Snohomish County League of Women Voters announces winners of 2021 Democracy in Action awards

Adie Simmons, Founder and Executive Director, Washington Family Engagement, holding the 2021 Democracy in Action Award

The League of Women Voters of Snohomish County on Saturday presented Democracy in Action Awards to two organizations: the 2020 Complete Count Committee led by Vanessa Gutierrez and Washington Family Engagement (WAFE) and its Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI). WAFE founder and executive director is Adie Simmons.

Washington Family Engagement through its Parent Leadership Training Institute educates adults from diverse backgrounds to understand how government affects their daily lives, and that they themselves have a voice. They teach for free how to advocate for children and families in their schools, communities and government. PLTI teaches in English and Spanish about public policy and governmental systems and requires parent leaders to initiate community projects such as workshops, examining issues, and testifying in public legislative meetings. WAFE has a parallel Child Leadership Institute (CLTI) to teach similar topics at age level. These goals of leading parents and youth to become knowledgeable, active participants in an effective democracy align closely with goals of the League of Women Voters.

Vanessa Gutierrez, leader of the 2020 Complete Count Committee for Snohomish County, with her award.

LThe 2020 Snohomish County Complete Count Committee was formed to ensure that all county residents were counted during the 2020 U.S. Census. The team partnered with 70 organizations across the county to reach out to known hard-to-count groups including young children, highly mobile persons, racial and ethnic minorities, low-income persons, persons experiencing homelessness, non-English speakers, LGBTQ persons and persons who distrust government. According to the League of Women Voters announcement, committee participants were “transparent in their messaging, communicating regularly with local residents and leaders and sharing issues and challenges.”

In the 2020 Census, Snohomish County reported a 6.1% self-response increase over 2010. Statewide follow-up after self-reporting led to a Washington state report of 99.9% of households enumerated. Such diligent and accurate work helps ensure that Snohomish County will receive its fair share of available resources over the next decade, the League of Women Voters said. Team leader Vanessa Gutierrez was commended for her organization, articulateness and upbeat nature as she oversaw a very difficult job.

The Democracy in Action Award is presented annually to an outstanding local person or organization for outstanding achievement or long-term commitment to enhancing democracy in Snohomish County. This year, the League of Women Voters of Snohomish County selected two candidates to be recognized.

The awards were presented at a Zoom “birthday party” recognizing the 101st  year of the League of Women Voters, founded Feb. 14, 1920. The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues and, after member study and agreement, works to influence public policy through education and advocacy. The league does not support or oppose any political party or candidate for office.

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