UW Impact

District Dawgs

Interested in participating in District Dawgs? Learn more about the program below and tell us about your passion for supporting students and the University of Washington:

What is UW Impact?

UW Impact is the University of Washington Alumni Association’s legislative advocacy program. Our mission is to engage UW alumni and stakeholders in legislative advocacy that advances the university and public higher education in the state of Washington.

What is a District Dawg?

District Dawgs (DD) are proud UW Alumni who believe in the value of higher education in the state of Washington. District Dawgs support the UW and higher education through legislative district-based engagement with lawmakers and their community. Using UW Impact resources, District Dawgs help coordinate opportunities for alums, neighbors, family and friends to learn about the value of higher education, build relationships with local lawmakers, and generate support for higher education.

District Dawgs Spotlight

George Fennell, 36th Legislative District District Dawg Spotlight: George Fennell

How did you begin to advocate with UW Impact?
I got an email about being an advocate when I graduated, I clicked the link to the website, I signed up. If you want a little more context, I transferred from North Seattle College to the University of Washington to study Materials Science and Engineering. I was primarily interested in renewable energy, and I got to work with everything from semiconductor manufacturing to medical research, developing a passion for STEM education along the way. One constant across all these areas is the significance of policy. Washington state provides direction and funding for community and technical colleges, for the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds which make cutting-edge research and development facilities accessible to both students and companies, for the UW Medical Center, and for the K-12 education system underpinning all of that. I study Materials Science to make a positive impact, and advocacy is another way I can make that happen.

Which higher education issue is most important to you, and why?
This is a really tough question! Community colleges have a special place in my heart, I had a very positive experience with mine and they do a lot to make education more accessible. Universities in Washington have a lot to gain from closer relationships with colleges. My department has a lot of transfer students, and people with the initiative to go from one institution to another bring drive, experience, and perspective with them. UW and Seattle Colleges have dealt with disruptions from COVID in parallel, worked to advance programs like Running Start and College in the High School in parallel, and we're all having to deal with enormous jumps in cost of living in parallel. I'd love to be able to work more closely with them in the future!

What has been rewarding about advocating for higher education and what have you learned?
It's an interesting time to get involved in politics, and I feel that higher education advocacy has been a very productive step towards being more civically engaged. Higher education involves a huge number of people in Washington, particularly when you keep in mind that making educational resources more accessible to communities which haven't had them is in itself a higher education objective. It's excellent to have more experienced advocates showing me the ropes. The "off season" is when a lot of the real advocacy work happens. Everyone is incredibly busy during the legislative session, so you want to be developing your agenda, gauging legislator sympathy, and setting up communication between your communities and their legislators long before then. Having more voices and new perspectives matters, and it makes me feel like I can contribute.

What would you share with other alumni that want to get involved?
Just reach out and get started! Washington state voter turnout was 36% in 2023, the lowest it's been since at least 1980. There are a lot of problems in Washington, not to mention the world, and we're going to need to put our heads together to solve them. Some people might have some preconception that they can't or shouldn't get involved, that the system is too big or that they aren't the right person for the job. Civic participation is a responsibility we all have to share. If we're going to navigate these complex established systems, we should probably meet up and do it together. I'll see you around!

District Dawgs Spotlight Archive

District Dawgs Norms:

  • We are an inclusive program dedicated to representing the interests of UW alumni and students and are committed to championing diversity in both our membership and our actions.
  • We are a non-partisan program and seek to include individuals across the political spectrum who support the UW and higher education. We welcome different perspectives but share a common understanding about the impact higher education has across all of Washington state and the contributions the University of Washington makes to the world through its research, medicine, and students.
  • We are dedicated to supporting the interests of the UW and higher education and recognize that supporting these interests will be the primary focus of UW Impact civic engagement and advocacy.