Sedonia Young: Community Advocate

Elections | 05/24/2018

Katie Gustainis
Marketing & Communications Manager, Stand for Children Washington

Sedonia Young is a member of the Stand for Children Washington PAC endorsement committee in Tacoma and has been since 2014. She sat down with me last week to discuss her involvement with Stand for Children and why she chooses to be so political in her education advocacy.

Sedonia Young has spent her entire career – and most of her retirement – serving her community.

A lifelong Washington resident, Sedonia was born, raised, and educated in Seattle, but she’s been in Tacoma for almost 20 years.

Her career started with Seattle Public Schools. She was hired as an affirmative action officer in the 1970s. Her job was to ensure that all hiring practices and education programs were executed equitably to people of color in the system, in accordance with the historic 1964 Civil Rights Act.

“I’ve always liked being an advocate for my community,” she says.

After earning her master’s degree in human resources, she moved south to work for the Tacoma Public Utilities and later for the Port of Tacoma. Since leaving government work, she has used her knowledge of local organizations to work as a grant-writing consultant for non-profits.

Although she’s now retired (“you never really retire”, she says), Sedonia is pouring her time and energy into political advocacy.

“The political sphere has the most influence,” she says. “It’s where we can identify issues, provide direction to public officials, and be involved in building our schools. We can also make sure that kids are being treated fairly and not being ignored.”

Although she’s been involved with several organizations like the NAACP, the Urban League, and Stand for Children Washington, Sedonia has spent most of her time working with Political Destiny (PD). PD is a political action committee formed in 2007 by a group of four pastors in Tacoma. Their stated purpose is to advocate on behalf of underrepresented groups and marginalized individuals. Their work primarily focuses on increasing voter registration, education and turnout.

Sedonia explains: “Voters have to know that their voices matter. That’s what we do. We include people in the process.”

It was through the NAACP that Sedonia met Sara Irish, Stand’s Tacoma organizer, who invited her to be a part of the Stand for Children Washington PAC endorsement committee process.

As a member of the committee, Sedonia is part of the group entrusted with the responsibility of reviewing and interviewing Tacoma candidates for office before selecting who to endorse.

“What’s important to me in a candidate,” says Sedonia, “is that they’ve done their research and taken initiative in their community. I want to know if they will show leadership in education and stand up for change.”

“I work with bipartisan groups like Stand because it doesn’t make a difference the party a candidate represents. I care about whether or not they represent kids. At Stand we ask the important questions: what have you done? What will you do? We hold them accountable for what they say,” she continues.

When identifying the most important education issues facing the Tacoma area, Sedonia doesn’t hesitate: “There are large groups of students of color dropping out before they reach high school, and I don’t see it being addressed. The kids who drop out early aren’t counted in the system. I want to know: why are they leaving? What are we doing about it?”

“We need more counselors and support for these kids starting before high school,” she says. “There are so many changes at the end of middle school and when transitioning to high school. Schools need more support and more resources to connect with kids, especially those whose families speak a primary language other than English.”

Sedonia plans to continue working in Tacoma to further engage local residents and encourage them to use their voices to make sure that every kid has what they need to succeed. As she says: “Education is everything,” which we couldn’t agree with more.

To support the work Sedonia and the Stand for Children Washington PAC are doing to elect education champions during the 2018 election cycle, donate $10 today.

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