2021 Democracy in Action Award goes to Washington Family Engagement founder Adie Simmons and Complete Count's Vanessa Gutierrez

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Adie Simmons holds the 2021 Democracy in Action Award
On February 13, 2021 the League of Women Voters of Snohomish County presented Democracy in Action Awards to two organizations: the 2020 Complete Count Committee led by Vanessa Gutierrez and Washington Family Engagement (WAFE) and its Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI). WAFE founder and executive director is Adie Simmons.

Washington Family Engagement through its Parent Leadership Training Institute educates adults from diverse backgrounds to understand how government affects their daily lives, and that they themselves have a voice.

They teach for free how to advocate for children and families in their schools, communities and government. PLTI teaches in English and Spanish about public policy and governmental systems and requires Parent Leaders to initiate community projects such as workshops, examining issues, and testifying in public legislative meetings.

WAFE has a parallel Child Leadership Institute (CLTI) to teach similar topics at age level. These goals of leading parents and youth to become knowledgeable active participants in an effective democracy align closely with goals of the League of Women Voters who have honored them with the 2021 Democracy in Action Award.
Adie was a long-time volunteer in Shoreline before being appointed as the founding Director of the Office of the Education Ombudsman (OEO). The OEO, a statewide agency created by the legislature in 2006, resolves complaints and disputes between parents and public school officials that impact student academic achievement. From there she went on to found Washington Family Engagement.

Vanessa Gutierrez with her award
The 2020 Complete Count Committee describes itself as having aimed “toward implementing equity, respect, honesty with information shared, building of trust, empathy and reassurance, to reduce Hard to Count (HTC) areas in Snohomish County.”

The team partnered with 70 organizations across the county to reach out to known hard-to-count groups including young children, highly mobile persons, racial and ethnic minorities, low-income persons, persons experiencing homelessness, non-English speakers, LGBTQ persons and persons who distrust government. 

They were transparent in their messaging, communicating regularly with local residents and leaders and sharing issues and challenges. Snohomish County reported a 6.1% self-response increase over 2010. 

Statewide follow-up after self-reporting led to a Washington state report of 99.9% of households enumerated. Such diligent and accurate work helps ensure that Snohomish County will receive its fair share of available resources over the next decade. 

Leader of the team Vanessa Gutierrez was commended for her organization, articulateness and upbeat nature as she oversaw a very difficult job. The League of Women Voters recognizes and applauds this impressive and diligent work through the 2021 Democracy in Action Award.

The Democracy in Action Award is presented annually to an outstanding local person or organization for their contributions to our democracy. It recognizes outstanding achievement or long-term commitment to enhancing democracy in Snohomish County. This year the League of Women Voters of Snohomish County felt strongly that two candidates for this award deserved recognition.

The awards were presented at the ZOOM “birthday party” recognizing the 101st year of the League of Women Voters, founded February 14, 1920. 

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues and, after member study and agreement, works to influence public policy through education and advocacy. The League does not support or oppose any political party or candidate for office.

More information: info@lwvsnoho.org or Kate Lunceford, President, LWVSC at 206-331-7233


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