In July, I joined the team at Seattle Parks Foundation. I moved to Seattle from Washington, D.C., where I served in the Obama Administration at the Department of Justice and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. In these roles, I worked with communities across the country to protect our environment, public lands, and health. I am happy to be in Seattle, where so many people are committed to preserving and building on these accomplishments.
Already, I know Seattle is a special place. It is at the heart of the country’s most beautiful landscapes. It is rich in diversity and has a thriving economy. And it is deeply driven by an entrepreneurial spirit. Seattle is undergoing a transformation, becoming a leader in business and setting an example for the country through its progressive values. All community members should see themselves as a part of this evolution, especially in their own neighborhoods, and I hope that we can help by connecting communities through parks and public space.
I grew up in Pittsburgh, where Schenley Park was a special place for my family. When I was very young, we immigrated to America from the Philippines. We had little money, few friends, and no family here. My parents were graduate students; they were always working, and since childcare was expensive, they brought my brother and me everywhere. Schenley Park was where we really spent time together. My mom liked to take us to the gardens there. I think they inspired and renewed her in a way that a concrete backyard just could not do. My dad liked to sit on the hilltop at night, looking at the stars and telling us stories about his reckless youth. I think the infiniteness gave him the space to remember and to dream. On the playground, my brother and I learned important early-childhood-development life lessons like sharing, conflict resolution, bravery, and resilience.
Everyone deserves spaces like this, which is why I’m excited to work with you to achieve our goal of Parks for All.