Upisode 40: Reproductive justice advocate Kirsten Harris-Talley stopped by the bookstore and recounted her whirlwind 51 days as a city councilmember; she sheds light on how the “dominoes had to fall” for such an unlikely event to occur and also shares how her uniquely prepared team stepped into place just in time for budget season, “the Super Bowl of the city council.” Kirsten then walks Ian through her unique childhood as a biracial, churchgoing youth in the rural poverty of small-town Missouri, and how that spells out so much of the contemporary political moment. The two discuss ideology v. leadership style as a barometer for elected officials, and Kirsten plugs the work being done by her group SURGE Reproductive Justice.
About Kirsten Harris-Talley
Kirsten Harris-Talley grew up in rural Missouri and, after a stint in Chicago, now has a long record of advocacy and public service in the Seattle area. She brings over 15 years of experience in cultural proficiency, program implementation, and organizational development to her role as Program Director at Progress Alliance of Washington, a nonprofit organization focusing on systematic improvements that make Washington State a healthy place to live with shared economic success and security, and a democracy that works for its people by giving substantial grants to over a dozen projects and start-up organizations each year; Kirsten oversees the group’s funding portfolio, development of new programs and coordinates political strategy. She is also a founding board member of SURGE Reproductive Justice, a group dedicated to access, engagement, freedom, and human dignity in the reproductive and family planning spaces. On the heels of a major policy victory ensuring reproductive equity for incarcerated women, SURGE recently launched the Prison Doula Project in partnership with local doulas and prison support organizations.
In October 2017, the Seattle City Council appointed Kirsten to serve a two-month temporary term left vacant by Tim Burgess’s appointment as temporary mayor in the wake of Ed Murray’s sudden departure. Her unconventional, yet deeply effective 51-day stint in the at-large seat now held by Teresa Mosqueda garnered outsized attention for her attention to detail on focus on the city budget as a moral document, and — coupled with her uniquely high likeability across Seattle — has generated questions about a future “full time” run.
For now, Kirsten says, she makes the most of her limited downtime cooking and rocking the karaoke mic with her husband Jason and their two children.