October 05, 2016

Coalition Donor Spotlight: Kelli Carroll

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Category: Newsletter

Kelli Carroll is an anchor in our community, and we’re honored to have her support. She also happens to make her donations through her workplace giving program! Do you have a workplace giving program? Chances are, now’s the time to sign up! Consider joining Kelli in making your gift to the Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence through your workplace giving program.

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A little about you….
Where are you from, what are your hobbies, etc?

I grew up in Olympia and went to school in Bellingham, then moved to Seattle for 30 years. We just moved back to Bellingham a few years ago. I commute to Seattle at the beginning of the week and head back home at the end of the week.

For the last year and a half, I spent most of my time working. I am a Strategic Advisor at King County. Over the last 18 months, I’ve worked to get the Mental Health and Drug Dependency (MIDD) sales tax renewed (which happened August 22nd!) We submitted the MIDD Service Improvement Plan on August 25th. .

I’m trying to do better at achieving work life balance, though. When I’m NOT working, I have recently taken up fly-fishing.  I knit and cook, and we entertain a lot. I hang out with all of the people I love and our dogs. It’s a pretty sweet life!

Can you tell us about your job? What do you like about it? What motivates you?

I really believe in public service. I love being able to use my skills and abilities and interests and passions to further the public good. And I really believe in behavioral health being available to all people. Working on the MIDD is one way I can do that.

I also have really enjoyed furthering an equity and social justice approach to our MIDD work. We’ve done some innovative things with recommendations around MIDD implementation and advisory that hasn’t been done before. We’re setting up an ad hoc work group made up of consumers and community members— people who don’t typically have access to decision makers. And we’re paying them to participate, which helps bring the voices of consumers and community members to MIDD. . Often people who don’t work in or around government don’t have the opportunity—the luxury—of sitting in a room in the middle of the day telling deciders what really works. So we’re going to go out there and get those ideas—get that feedback for the MIDD. That’s been really exciting!

A little about you and the Coalition….
How did you get involved with the Coalition and/or domestic violence/sexual assault issues?

I have known Merril through work for a really, really long time. She is the co-chair of the MIDD (Mental Illness Drug Dependency) Oversight Committee,. But even before that, our paths crossed out in the world. I so so so support the Coalition and the work that they’ve done over the years.  I’ve been involved in domestic violence and sexual assault issues through work—in a policy sort of way—but I’m also a survivor of domestic violence. So this work is deeply personal to me as well.

How long have you been involved with the Coalition?

Well, I’ve been a donor for a few years, but I’ve been aware of and supportive of the work of the Coalition for 17 years, probably!

A little about what you think about the Coalition….
What is the most important role the Coalition plays in the community?

So many roles—well you know, I think issue advocacy for policy makers—that’s the best perspective I have. I worked for the King County Council for eight years, so I interfaced with the Coalition and the Alliance in that arena. But issue advocacy, at an individual policy making level, and as a group at the legislative policy making level, is critical. Making sure that people who write checks with the public dollar know that there is a need for public support for this work.

What excites you most about the Coalition’s work?

I love that it’s becoming better and more effective over time. That domestic violence and sexual assault and gender-based violence are prevalent issues and even more so as we have more attention with media stories and social media. You know, “rape culture”—that’s a term we use now. That’s a term we know. Ten years ago, that term was unheard of outside of feminist circles.

So I think the more our culture becomes aware of the issues we face with intimate partner violence, domestic violence, rape culture—there’s going to be a greater need for training, a greater need for education, a greater need for public policy education, a greater need for wider public education, and collaborations between community based agencies and government.

Where do you see us going in the future?

I see you building on the attention that has recently come out, informing policy making, and educating the public. I’m particularly interested in the ways colleges and universities respond to sexual assault.  I think there’s a really interesting nexus point there. You know—California just passed a law requiring prison for individuals convicted of assaulting an unconscious person —so what does that mean for us here in Washington? What does that mean for us here in King County? Or Whatcom County?

I think there’s a TON of opportunity to leverage relationships with other organizations, build relationships with schools, get into the fraternity and sorority universe and help people understand what creating a culture of NON-violence looks like. What does consent culture look like?

I was involved in a campaign in King County to get human trafficking posters in jails and courthouses and community clinics—all across the county. We partnered with over 100 organizations to get these out. The posters said things like “if you’re in human trafficking, here’s what you can do,” along with a hotline number, in many languages.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to develop a public outreach campaign around consent culture? And put it in the bathrooms in high schools and colleges and malls and bus stops and… wouldn’t that be interesting?

And it’s totally possible! A couple partnerships—some philanthropy, some media, and BOOM. You’ve got it.

Why should other people want to get involved with the Coalition?

The Coalition’s work touches every life in some way or another in King County. I’m sure there are people who look at me and have no idea that I went through an incredibly emotionally and physically violent situation. Survivors are all around us, and they need support. The Coalition helps agencies and organizations better support women and men and kids who survived.

The Coalition is one of those quiet giants. People don’t know how they’re being affected by it or how they’re benefitting from it—through public education or work with other community orgs—but they are.

It’s a hard one, because we’re not putting food in someone’s mouth or a roof over someone’s head. It’s a social service infrastructure component that’s not a headline. You don’t put up a headline that says “King County salaries were adjusted to inflation.” That’s not a headline that many people care about, but the reality is, if folks don’t get paid in fair ways, then the work doesn’t get done. So with the Coalition, if the Coalition isn’t there, really life-saving connections won’t be made. In the organizations, folks won’t be trained, or connect and share data and leverage services. And that’s a really hard story to tell. It’s not sexy. It’s nuanced, and we don’t live in a nuanced culture. That’s why I fish and knit.