Washington State Courts

06/09/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/09/2021 09:21

Justice G. Helen Whitener named Public Official of the Year by Evergreen State College Master of Public Administration Program

Justice G. Helen Whitener named Public Official of the Year by Evergreen State College Master of Public Administration Program

June 09, 2021

Washington Supreme Court Justice G. Helen Whitener has been named 2021 Public Official of the Year by The Evergreen State College's Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program for her legal and judicial careers which have centered 'on a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion that is a model for other judges and public service professionals.'

Justice Whitener will receive the award during a virtual MPA Hooding Ceremony and Graduation Celebration on June 11, 2021, in a presentation to follow opening remarks by Karen Fraser, Board of Trustees Chair. The award is made annually to a state, local, tribal, or nonprofit leader in Washington whose record of public service exemplifies the MPA program's motto, 'Be the Change.'

The hooding ceremony this year is the first to include students graduating from both the Olympia and the Tacoma Master of Public Administration (MPA) cohorts. The ceremony can be viewed June 11th, 2021 at 10 a.m. via evergreen.zoom.us/j/82604258263.

In a letter to Whitener announcing the award, MPA Director Mike Craw wrote that, 'In addition to your impressive record of public service and advocacy, your professional achievements and your public message inspire and empower a new generation of public leaders.' Additionally, Craw wrote that '. . . your message of 'overcoming societal codes' and claiming one's identity illustrate a path to public service that includes those who have historically been under-represented as leaders in our state and communities. Your message is also a powerful call to action for us to do better at supporting a public and nonprofit sector that embraces our diversity. In bringing forth this call, you have helped to assure that Washington's future leaders will be more representative of the public they serve.'

The letter cited Whitener's service on various boards and associations, including the International Association of LGBT Judges and her former chairpersonship of the Washington State Superior Court Judge's Association's Equity and Fairness Committee, as well as her 'vocal advocacy for LGBT rights and justice in Trinidad and Tobago,' where she was born.

Justice Whitener expressed her deep appreciation for the honor, thanking the faculty, staff and students, and congratulating the Olympia and Tacoma MPA cohorts for their commitment to public service, noting that the motto of Evergreen's Tacoma Program is 'Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve.'

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