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January 17-20, 2022

The RSJI Summit is a virtual event that brings City of Seattle employees together to increase our collective capacity for race and social justice work. Here, you’ll find inspiration from local leaders, reflections from community activists, and knowledge from City of Seattle staff who organize for anti-racist change.

The 2022 Summit begins with a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Day, featuring remarks from:

  • Mayor Bruce Harrell
  • City Council President Debora Juarez
  • Michele Storms, Executive Director of ACLU-WA

Summit events January 18-20 will be available live to City of Seattle employees. Recordings will be shared on this page soon after. Take a look below to see the schedule for 2022.

Learn more about the RSJI Summit

RSJI Summit 2022 Logo

MONDAY, JANUARY 17: MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. UNITY DAY
Recordings available January 17.
9:00am

Remarks from Mayor Harrell

Bruce Harrell Headshot

Mayor of Seattle Bruce Harrell shares his vision for how the City of Seattle can lead with equity.

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9:15am

Remarks from Council President Juarez

Debora Juarez Headshot

Seattle City Council President Debora Juarez shares a message of unity in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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9:30am

Keynote Speaker

Michele Storms Headshot

Michele Storms, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (ACLU-WA), shares her thoughts on a more just and equitable society in the time of a pandemic. She identities some of the opportunities ahead and gives advice on how to survive while doing the work.

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Looking for more ways to celebrate MLK Day?
Check out the 40th Annual MLK Day Celebration, hosted by the Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition!

The Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition is not affiliated with the City of Seattle.



TUESDAY, JANUARY 18: TRANSFORMATIVE JUSTICE
Recordings available in early February.

9:30am-11:00am

The Pursuit of Transformative Justice

As a thought leader on transformative justice, Sean Goode believes that there is no greater power than the collective us. To create a city that honors our shared humanity we must learn from our past, live in our present, and lead in pursuit of justice. In this presentation, Sean will talk about the power of transformative justice, followed by a Q&A. 

Sean Goode is a speaker, facilitator, writer, podcast host, executive coach, and nonprofit leader who is driven by his mantra, “possibilities over problems”. Through his stewardship, the nationally recognized nonprofit  CHOOSE 180 won the 2021 City of Seattle Human Rights Award. He has worked to decriminalize youthful behavior and transform the very systems that have historically caused harmed to marginalized communities. He has also been appointed by the Washington State Governor to the Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice, where he serves as the vice chair. Sean is regularly sharing his own personal journey, the transformative power of grace and the impact of elevating possibilities over problems with a diversity of audiences in both the private and public sector.

Featuring:

Sean Goode Headshot

WATCH NOW

12:30pm-2:00pm

Making Racial Equity into Law: Organizing for an RSJI Ordinance

For as long as the Race & Social Justice Initiative has existed, there has been organizing to enshrine the initiative and its work into law. After 18 years of effort, City of Seattle employees continue to push for an ordinance.

This discussion will explain the importance of ordinances, explore the history of organizing within the City of Seattle, uncover some of the barriers for racial equity legislation, and identify opportunities for change.

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2:30pm-4:00pm

Transformative Budgeting for Racial Equity

The City’s budget process has historically been a closed process with limited involvement from City staff. Although race and social justice analysis was included in the budget process, the City Budget Office (CBO), in partnership with the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (OCR), recognized that more work is needed to center equity. Over the past year, CBO has partnered with OCR and department staff to move toward a budget process that is more inclusive with the long-term goal of transformative budgeting for racial equity.  

This session will provide background on the City budget and how changes are made, as well as discuss the work underway to ensure that race and social justice is an indispensable part of the City's budget work. The session will direct City employees to resources where they can learn about their own department’s budget and process.

Featuring:

  • Jeanette Blankenship, City of Seattle, Central Budgeting Office
  • Miguel Jimenez, City of Seattle, Central Budgeting Office

WATCH NOW

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19: DECOLONIZATION
Recordings available in early February.

9:30am-11:00am

Black Directors Forum

Filmed in December 2021

What does Black leadership in government look like during the time of Black Lives Matter? This is the question we asked during the first Black Directors Forum in 2021. In this year's discussion, we continue the conversation with Black leaders in the City of Seattle government. They unpack shared history, shared ideals, shared struggles, and ideas about moving toward an anti-racist future.

Moderated by Kelly O’Brien of the Race and Social Justice Initiative.

Featuring:

  • Royal Alley-Barnes, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture
  • Anita Crawford-Willis, Seattle Municipal Court
  • Mariko Lockhart, Seattle Office for Civil Rights
  • Robert Nellams, Seattle Center
  • Harold Scoggins, Seattle Fire Department

WATCH NOW

12:30pm-2:00pm

RSJI Retrospective: Race and Social Justice Activism During the Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic challenged municipal governments across the United States, it became impossible to ignore the racial disparities affecting frontline workers and remote government staff, as well as the systemic racism causing untold damage to communities of color. This discussion will explore the experiences of City of Seattle employees who organized for racial justice during the pandemic. They’ll share their unique stories and consider the future of activism in the City.

Moderated by Kelly O’Brien of the Race and Social Justice Initiative.

Featuring:

  • Jenifer Chao, Seattle Office for Civil Rights
  • Michael Davis, Seattle Parks and Recreation
  • Natalie Hunter, Seattle Public Utilities
  • Ani Krisnhan, Office of Sustainability & Environment
  • Jackie Mena, Department of Neighborhoods

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3:30pm-5:00pm

Solidarity in the Asian and Black Communities

Civil rights in the Asian and Black communities have been intertwined since the United States was founded. Despite this, the relationship between the communities is often labeled as adversarial. In this discussion, local activists in the Asian and Black communities talk about why solidarity is more important than ever, after rising anti-Asian hate during the pandemic and the fallout from the murder of George Floyd in summer of 2020.

Moderated by Mariko Lockhart of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights.

Featuring:

  • Lulu Carpenter, KVRU
  • Alex Chuang, Community Organizer
  • Johnny Fikru, Community Organizer
  • David Heppard, Freedom Project
  • KL Shannon, Community Organizer

WATCH NOW

THURSDAY, JANUARY 20: COLLECTIVE CARE WORKSHOPS

Open to City of Seattle employees only.

9:30am-11:00am

12:30pm-2:00pm

Storytelling, a Multipurpose Tool

Anyone can be a storyteller. Storytelling is one of the most accessible tools we have to fight social injustices, build community, facilitate personal healing for ourselves and others, and inspire. Via partnered, interactive storytelling exercises, participants will  mine their unique lived experience for content and engage their imagination with accessible improv.

In addition to being interactive and fun, this session will provide participants with a toolkit of exercises for future use in public speaking, community-building, and other creative and collaborative endeavors. No prior storytelling experience required. Participants should be prepared to take notes.

Workshop host Sara Porkalob is an award-winning storyteller, activist, and creator of the DRAGON CYCLE. She is a 2021 Princess Grace Award Recipient for Theatre and has been named as one of Seattle Times', “11 Movers and Shakers to Watch This Decade”. Sara will make her Broadway debut in 2022, playing Edward Rutledge in the official revival of 1776. The first two installments of DRAGON CYCLE received 2018 Gregory Awards in 2018 and two Elliot Norton Awards in 2019.

2:30pm-3:30pm

Practicing Self-Care Is Social Justice

Self-care allows us to be a better organizers and leaders. In this workshop, you’ll learn how self-care helps you show up for collective justice and collective care for others. Social worker Bonnie Wang will lead the group in a mindfulness breath exercise, then share her own experiences with burnout. She’ll explain what techniques have helped her manage fatigue and continue to do the work that she loves.

Workshop host Bonnie Wang has 15 years of experience working in community-based organizations with minoritized individuals and families affected by substance use and co-occurring disorders. Ms. Wang is the Clinical Director of Washington Asian Pacific Islander (WAPI) Community Services in Seattle. She also holds adjunct teaching positions at Seattle University, Seattle Central College, and Highline College. She received her Master of Social Work at the University of Washington. Ms. Wang is a Washington State Substance Use Disorder Professional (SUDP), Mental Health Professional, and Nationally certified Master Addiction Counselor (MAC). She is also a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor and a Zumba Instructor. 

About the RSJI Summit

The RSJI Summit and MLK Jr. Unity Day build on the activism of City of Seattle employees who are dedicated to the pursuit of racial equity in government. We reflect on the previous year’s race and social justice work while also looking forward. We set the coming year’s agenda for the continued fight against white supremacy culture and the harm that it causes communities of color.

This event provides an opportunity for City of Seattle staff to come together in ways that move our institution towards being truly inclusive and anti-racist. We also gather for collective care. We reflect and develop strategies for combating the internalized racial oppression, trauma, and burnout that accompanies the work of anti-racist organizing.

In addition, the Summit gives a platform to people and organizations who are doing important work in the community, so that the City of Seattle can better align its racial justice work with local grassroots movements.

Like all race and social justice work, the RSJI Summit is rooted in the collective power of grassroots movements that advocate for systemic change. Our work is indebted to the many activists that came before us, and the many people in Seattle who continue organizing today. They inspire our continued efforts to shift our institution so that government plays its deserved role to ensure that institutional racism can be undone.

Summit Host

Past Summit Highlights

* Please note that listed sponsors below are not associated with the RSJI Summit. They are campus sponsors for Seattle Center.

Campus Sponsors