UW Impact

District Dawg Spotlights Archive

Dave Stone, 36th District UW Business School, 1968

How did you begin to advocate with UW Impact?

I believe in 2010 or 2011, I met the acting director and she described what UW Impact wanted to do. We discussed our mutual goals and objectives in more detail, and I decided to begin advocating.

What has been rewarding about advocating for higher education and what have you learned?

My involvement in advocating for higher education as a District Dawg has been deeply enriching. The most rewarding aspect has been the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations with influential political leaders and dedicated alumni of the University of Washington, all united by a common mission to improve the prospects of students and effect positive change.

What I have learned is that advocacy is not limited to advocating for our university; it is a catalyst for more significant change that extends beyond campus boundaries and into the governance and well-being of the State of Washington. These discussions and actions, whether they result in substantial or incremental changes, reflect the power of collective commitment and inspire hope for a better future.

What would you share with other alumni that want to get involved?

I firmly believe that many of us share a common desire to be advocates for change. While it's undoubtedly valuable to express our concerns through sharing posts on social media or engaging in passionate and profound conversations with friends and family, real impact can be found in positioning ourselves at the very heart of these consequential discussions. Getting actively involved with the UW Alumni Association offers a promising starting point.

Within our UW Impact community, Program Director Courtney Acitelli and Associate Director Chris Olsen-Phillips stand as powerful allies, compassionately facilitating dialogues and equipping each one of us to be powerful voices for the issues we hold close to our hearts. If you resonate with this shared sense of purpose and aspire to make a meaningful impact, I encourage you to get involved with the UWAA, and let your voice be heard.

Nidhi Kumar, 43rd District UW School of Law, 2021

How did you begin to advocate with UW Impact?

I currently serve on the University of Washington Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) Alumni Council, where I have been engaged in delivering advocacy, mentorship, and support to current students and alumni, under the direction of Assistant Director of Alumni Student Programs, Quinton Tran. It was therefore a pretty natural transition to get more involved with the UW Alumni Association as a District Dawg, and continue to advocate for all of the things that make me a proud Husky.

What has been rewarding about advocating for higher education and what have you learned?

My involvement in advocating for higher education as a District Dawg has been deeply enriching. The most rewarding aspect has been the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations with influential political leaders and dedicated alumni of the University of Washington, all united by a common mission to improve the prospects of students and effect positive change.

What I have learned is that advocacy is not limited to advocating for our university; it is a catalyst for more significant change that extends beyond campus boundaries and into the governance and well-being of the State of Washington. These discussions and actions, whether they result in substantial or incremental changes, reflect the power of collective commitment and inspire hope for a better future.

What would you share with other alumni that want to get involved?

I firmly believe that many of us share a common desire to be advocates for change. While it's undoubtedly valuable to express our concerns through sharing posts on social media or engaging in passionate and profound conversations with friends and family, real impact can be found in positioning ourselves at the very heart of these consequential discussions. Getting actively involved with the UW Alumni Association offers a promising starting point.

Within our UW Impact community, Program Director Courtney Acitelli and Associate Director Chris Olsen-Phillips stand as powerful allies, compassionately facilitating dialogues and equipping each one of us to be powerful voices for the issues we hold close to our hearts. If you resonate with this shared sense of purpose and aspire to make a meaningful impact, I encourage you to get involved with the UWAA, and let your voice be heard.

Patti Brandt, 43rd District Retired Professor and Chairperson of the Family & Child Department, UW School of Nursing

How did you begin to advocate with UW Impact?

I previously served on the UW Impact Legislative Advocacy Committee after retiring from the School of Nursing. I was an advocate for UW during my faculty years so it was important for me to continue to do so with UW Impact.

Which higher education issue is most important to you and why?

The area that is vitally important to me is UW's need to strengthen student resources, particularly the WA Student Loan Program and counseling support.

What has been rewarding about advocating for higher education and what have you learned?

I like the teamwork involved with being a District Dawg and appreciate the leadership of UW Impact staff Courtney and Chris. I have especially enjoyed visiting Olympia with other UW Impact members to advocate directly to legislators. I also appreciate the pre-visit briefings that help me feel prepared for the meetings with my legislators.

What would you share with other alumni that want to get involved?

One experience that I really enjoyed was teaming up with advocates from other universities across the state to focus on student financial support. Legislators were quite impressed and somewhat stunned that all of the advocates across the state were working together. Another memorable experience was visiting Olympia with students and attending legislator meetings with student advocates.

Njeri Thande, 46th District Area of Study: Masters in Public Administration, Graduation Year: 2019

How did you begin to advocate with UW Impact?

How did you begin to advocate with UW Impact? After joining the GOLD Council, I attended a UW Impact Legislative Advocacy Training and decided to get more involved. I benefited so much from my education at UW and want to support the higher education ecosystem (students, faculty, staff, and community).

Which higher education issue is most important to you and why?

Access and affordability. Historically this has addressed tuition and increasing college access, but part of the focus this year is on student support services. With the pandemic and increasing stressors for those enrolled in higher education, there is an increasing need for students to access mental health resources to support their progress towards their degree. Additionally, I'm grateful for an increased focus on needing to cover gaps and build more infrastructure for disability and accessibility on campuses. Meeting these priorities puts UW closer to meeting some important needs of marginalized communities on campus, thus supporting the full community.

What has been rewarding about advocating for higher education and what have you learned?

It's been good to feel connected to the alumni community and be more involved with our representatives during this year's session. Joining town halls and communicating with legislators on important priorities provides us the opportunity to take action on the things that we value and be more involved residents of where we live.

What would you share with other alumni that want to get involved?

Being a District Dawg is a great opportunity to tackle important higher education priorities by encouraging your representatives to take action and track their commitments amongst like-minded alumni.

This could be you!

Mark Ostersmith, 3rd District Area of Study: Business Administration, Graduation Year: 1990

How did you begin to advocate with UW Impact?

I was introduced to this program when I joined the board of the UWAA. I joined this committee and haven't looked back!

Which higher education issue is most important to you and why?

While higher education was always an expectation and a reality for me, I know that isn't the case for everyone. I feel that a liberal arts education continues to be an invaluable springboard for young people embarking on their careers. Making sure that everyone that desires to attend a university is able to do so is critical. This requires expanding funding, but also raising public awareness of the funds that already exist.

What has been rewarding about advocating for higher education and what have you learned?

The goodwill of interacting with our elected officials cannot be overstated. I appreciate them making time to meet one on one, and they appreciate hearing directly from a constituent about what is important to me.

What would you share with other alumni that want to get involved?

You might feel intimidated to reach out to your legislators, but the staff at UW Impact do an amazing job of preparing you to speak with your elected officials and to make the case for why funding for higher education in general, and the University of Washington specifically, is so important to all of us in the state.

Bettina Carey, 33rd Legislative District Area of Study: Nursing, Graduation Year: 1984

How did you begin to advocate with UW Impact?

In 2020, when COVID reared its ugly head, I was invited to become a trustee of the UW Alumni Association. It was during my time as a new board member that I first learned about UW Impact. I was immediately impressed with the thoughtful way in which I was empowered to make an impact of my own by writing to my legislators and representatives. Communicating with them had been on my mind, but I had not done so in quite some time. The simple instructions made it easy for me to express my deep appreciation for the UW and the impact that higher education had on my own life, and to ask for support of higher education in current legislative sessions.

Which higher education issue is most important to you and why?

When I think about what my life would have been like without a higher education, I shudder at the thought. As a Latina, I had a strong desire to be a nurse from a young age, but no one, not my parents nor my teachers, envisioned that I'd actually get into college. And I was on the Principal's Honor Roll! Three years after graduating high school, I decided to go after my dreams in spite of my circumstances and found a way to pursue a higher degree in the field of nursing.

For these reasons, my interests land squarely in support of both UW medical and nursing degrees. Specifically, I am aware that UW played an instrumental role in systematically addressing the impact of the pandemic on our communities throughout the state, and in the development of immunizations, incurring tremendous associated costs.

The pandemic has prevented medical and nursing candidates from fulfilling their dreams, further increasing existing shortages of both doctors and nurses. The impact of these shortages in the health field can result in dire consequences down the line and it is why I’m vowing to have my voice heard on the subject.

What has been rewarding about advocating for higher education and what have you learned?

For me, it is being reminded that holding elected officials accountable is good for both me and them. Contacting my legislators about issues that are important to me as it relates to higher education specifically has also resulted in my feeling that my voice has been heard and that my opinion matters. When I’m heard, I’m empowered, and the legislators are in turn empowered.

What would you share with other alumni that want to get involved?

Legislators know that if one person writes in it most likely represents the voice of many of their constituents. UW Impact makes it possible for me to reach out to my legislators on specific legislation in a brief, organized manner on issues that impact me personally. Getting involved and staying involved is made easy by UW Impact. Join us!

Nauman Mumtaz, District 30 B.A. Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences 2007, B.S. Environmental Science 2010

How did you begin to advocate with UW Impact?

After joining the University of Washington Alumni Association (UWAA) Board of Trustees, I naturally gravitated towards UW Impact given my past history in ASUWT Student Government, the Washington Student Achievement Council, the Washington Student Association, and the Governor's STEM Education Innovation Alliance - in these roles I worked with other students and stakeholders across the state to advocate for higher education. It was also during this time I crossed paths with current Senior Program Director of UW Impact, Courtney Acitelli, gaining one of my first exposures to Alumni advocacy.

Which higher education issue is most important to you and why?

While there is much focus on need-based aid (and rightfully so), additional efforts can be dedicated to elevate the amount of merit-based aid as well, especially for graduate and professional students. Many graduate programs are fee based, which don’t receive state funding - as a result, students in these programs are often left with a larger financial responsibility, in comparison to state funded programs, to cover their tuition and fees.

What has been rewarding about advocating for higher education and what have you learned?

Hearing from legislators on a consistent basis how vital the Alumni voice is when it comes to advocating for higher education contextualizes our ongoing efforts! As an Alumni advocate, partnering with students and other stakeholders across the state in support of higher education has yielded several positive results for Washingtonians over the years.

What would you share with other alumni that want to get involved?

There is no secret formula to becoming a sound Alumni advocate - speak directly, share your personal experiences from your time as a student, and joining a community of advocates will not only bolster support, but will also showcase to policymakers how supporting higher education is an investment that catalyzes fruitful results that all Washingtonians can benefit from.

Erin McCallum, District 5 Political Science, 1989

How did you begin to advocate with UW Impact?

I have always been an advocate for the University of Washington and higher education. I am a product of the UW and believe that it is my responsibility to help pay it forward.

Which higher education issue is most important to you and why?

College accessibility and STEM degrees. I believe that as a state funded institution we have the commitment to train Washington state students through accessible and affordable education. Investing in Washington students makes strong economic and social progress not only for students, but for our businesses and state.

What has been rewarding about advocating for higher education and what have you learned?

There are A LOT of diverse opinions which forces you to think bigger and objectively to find common ground. The University of Washington has plenty of independents, republicans, democrats, conservatives, progressives and libertarians. We are a microcosm of the state of Washington. All voices need to be heard.

What would you share with other alumni that want to get involved?

Getting engaged in UW Impact, which is the advocacy arm for the University of Washington Alumni Association, is easy. Share your passion and enthusiasm for the University of Washington and for higher education. It takes just a few minutes to communicate to your state lawmakers, who really do appreciate hearing from each of us. Our elected officials are just like each of us, they care about the future of our state but they are not experts in everything. This is why they need to hear from UW students, alumni and admirers! Join us, it's a lot of fun and rewarding!