Beacon Hill Neighbor Striving to Close Achievement Gap

Beacon Hill Neighbor Striving to Close Achievement Gap

Most people in the south-end know her as Executive Director of the Southeast Seattle Education Coalition (SESEC) — a coalition of community-based organizations, community activists, and other stakeholders working to improve schools in Southeast Seattle — but Erin Okuno‘s mission is much bigger than a job title.

The Beacon Hill neighbor and mother of two young children is acutely aware of the importance of educational equity for all students, and she’s passionate about closing the achievement and opportunity gaps and knowing children are well-cared for.

“SESEC believes children, especially those needing us the most, deserve high-quality education,” she says. “And we can get there by working together.”

She also volunteers on the board of Neighborhood House and helps out with her son’s classroom.

This week, she was kind enough to answer a few questions for your RVP’s People in Your Neighborhood column, a space dedicated to highlighting the unsung heroes of the southeast Seattle community.

Erin Okuno


Beacon Hill

How long in Seattle’s south-end?
12 years

Where from originally?

Day job:
Executive Director, Southeast Seattle Education Coalition

What motivates you to do this work?
Knowing children deserve better.

What do you like most about your day job?
I work with amazing people who challenge the status quo to make improvements for children.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
One or both of my kids asking for breakfast.

What are your hobbies?
Baking, making jam, and yoga.

Tell us about your family:
Two young children, a husband, and extended family in Hawaii and Washington.

What’s your most favorite thing about the Rainier Valley?
The richness and kindness of people living and working here.

What’s your least favorite thing about the Rainier Valley?
Watching the displacement of longtime communities and hearing about youth violence.

Where is your favorite place to go in the Rainier Valley?
Libraries and my home.

If you could live anywhere besides the Rainier Valley, where would it be?

If there was one thing you could change about the Rainier Valley, what would it be?
More funding for SE schools, more wrap-around services for families, and drive thru Bahn Mi– there are times I want a sandwich and the kids are sleeping.

Who inspires you?
So many leaders of color that have paved the way.

What was the last thing you read?
Go Dog Go! and The Warmth of Other Suns

Tell us something about you that not many people know:
I used to be a certified lifeguard.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A day with no plans, good food, and great weather.

What is your greatest fear?
Really big roller coasters

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Wasting time.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
All talk and no action.

What is your greatest regret?
Staying up too late.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My family and those that have become family.

What is your current state of mind?

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My son thinks I worked for Santa.

What is your most treasured possession?
It isn’t a possession, but I really value the people in my life.

What do you most value in your friends?
They show up, and they continue to show up.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Calvin and Hobbes

Who are your heroes in real life?

What is it that you most dislike?
Close mindedness.

What else should we know about you?
I like to eat, come share a snack with me?

Do you know a south-end neighbor who deserves some recognition for his/her efforts in the community? Tell us about them! Send suggestions for future People In Your Neighborhood columns to Photos/Erin Okuno



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