Meet the Issue Chairs

The following people are volunteer lobbyists on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Washington State. 

Kimberly Abbey

Health Care

Kim Abbey has been a member of the LWV of Thurston County since 2017. She was a registered nurse and an advanced registered nurse practitioner in clinical services for 30 years. She retired from Public Health–Seattle & King County in 2012. Kim has been politically active in universal health care since 1999 and was on the board of Health Care for All-Washington for two years. She and her husband moved from north Seattle to Olympia in 2015.

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Catherine Ahl


Before moving to Washington State in 1995, Catherine was education specialist for the National Military Family Association in Washington, D.C., and advocated for military children’s education at the Pentagon and in Congress. She also served as director of government relations for two years and received the association’s Most Valuable Volunteer Award in 1994.

In 1997, Catherine was appointed education chair for the LWV of Washington and advocates for education in Olympia. She served on the LWVWA board from 1998 to 2003, was on the LWV of Kitsap County Board from 1997 to 2012, served as president from 2009 to 2012, and served on the North Kitsap School District School Board from 1999 to 2007. She received the Washington Education Association’s Friend of Public Education Award in 2005, the North Kitsap PTA Advocacy for Children Award in 2008, and the Kitsap County Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award in 2013.

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Sherri Dysart


Sherry has resided in Washington State for most of my life, and currently live in Shelton on a small farm.  She graduated from Washington State University in 1982, with a BS in Forest Management.  During her college years, Sherri worked for the USFS Dale Ranger District (Oregon) as a field technician.  From 1983 until retirement in 2013, she worked for a privately-owned industrial timber company in Washington. She worked in the Human Resources Department, Accounting Department and as Payroll Coordinator for the hourly employees.

Sherri joined the League of Women Voters of Mason County in April 2019; in November 2019, she volunteered to be the chair of the Climate Change Committee.  She continues to serve in that capacity.

In the current dual crises of climate change and loss of biodiversity, the role of forests is critical to maintaining a habitable planet.  Sherri hopes to be a part of the effort to raise awareness of the importance of conservation of our forests, and make a difference by being a member of the LWVWA Lobby Team.

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Susan Fleming

Advocacy (Lobby Team) Portfolio Director

Susan is originally from western Pennsylvania but spent most of her adult life in the Minneapolis, MN, area. After retiring, she and her husband followed their son to the Portland area, where they were able to finally thaw out! 

For most of her professional career she worked in the technical areas of data base administration and telecommunications for a large corporation. She finished up her working life with 10 years as a special education teacher. For fun, Susan trains dogs, and competes in sports such as tracking, agility and obedience. 

She’s been a League member for about 10 years, and much of her local League work was arranging and executing candidate forums. As a state board member for the past two years, she chaired the DEI Working Committee until moving to the advocacy team. Social justice is one of her biggest concerns, and she has worked for improvements and fairness with other organizations such as the NAACP and the ACLU. She views policy development and legislation as necessary and important for movement toward social justice and environmental sustainability.

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Martin Gibbins

Climate Change and Energy

Martin Gibbins grew up in West Virginia; his father was a college professor and his mother was an activist for the League of Women Voters for over 50 years. He earned engineering degrees from Virginia Tech and for 35 years worked for Boeing in design, analysis, research, and management. Now retired, he lives on a lake in Carnation and enjoys snow skiing in the Cascades, travel, theater, and flying sail planes (zero-emission vehicles) with Evergreen Soaring. 

Marty joined the LWV of Washington in early 2017 and joined the Advocacy Team to promote legislation that ensured a healthy environment for people and wildlife. He has previously worked on water issues and now advocates in the areas of climate and energy. He served on the State Energy Strategy Advisory Committee in 2020 and on the LWVUS Climate Team.

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Raelene Gold

Natural Resources: Rivers

Raelene has been a member of the Advocacy Team since 2014 as issue chair of water resources and the Columbia River. She also works on tribal treaty rights, rivers, forests, and state parks. She represents the LWVWA on the nongovernmental organization and tribal caucus for the Columbia River Treaty. She has been an active volunteer in a number of environmental groups and causes.

She was past president and is a current executive committee member of the Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs as well as editor of its newsletter Outdoors West. She is also a past board and current Conservation Committee member of the Seattle Audubon Society.

She graduated from the University of Washington and the University of Washington Medical School, and practiced psychiatry and psychoanalysis in Connecticut, New York City, and Seattle until her retirement in 2004.

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Joan Lawson

Advocacy Portfolio Director

Joan’s day jobs include managing an architectural firm and local chamber of commerce, legal assistant, and three years each with the Washington and Maine Legislatures, was a professional organizer, but also worked at a newspaper, telephone company, candy store, laundry. She was involved in local organizations and organized national networks of volunteers, serving on the national boards of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and United Nations Association.

Her political experience began as a child doorbelling when her father ran for the City Commission, later mayor. She worked at the polls for years, served as precinct committee officer, officer of her county political party, and candidate for state representative in King County and Maine.

Joan has served as president of the League in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, board director of the LWV of Seattle-King County, its First Hill Unit, and is serving her second term as LWVWA Advocacy Portfolio Director.

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Cindy Madigan

Money in Politics

Cindy Madigan is currently Fiscal Director for Northwest Regional Council, a local government health and social services agency, and has been an active League member since 2017. She has worked to support the financial viability and transparency of a variety of for profit, nonprofit and governmental agencies during her 40 year professional career. As a League volunteer, she chaired a local Voting Rights Issue group, collaborated with others to present local educational programs, candidate, and issue forums, and co-chaired the development of a statewide toolkit on election methods.  She volunteered for the past four years under the guidance and mentoring of Kathy Sakahara and supported the LWVWA Democracy Advocacy team by researching legislation related to elections and money in politics and helping with the action workshops and lobby day/week.  Reading, bicycling, walking, and working together with others to defend democracy fulfill her life.

Contact information:


Alison McCaffree

Census and Redistricting

Alison McCaffree has a wide range of leadership, management, and community organizing experience. Her involvement with giving back to her community started at an early age—and she was a recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award. Alison holds mechanical engineering degrees from Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from the Sloan School of Business at MIT. 

After starting and managing successful for-profit businesses, Alison moved to the nonprofit sector, where she has held chief executive positions since 2009. Alison currently leads Politics of the Possible in Action—a nonprofit that focuses on increasing community engagement and enhancing the public’s knowledge of civics.

Alison heads up the LWVWA’s redistricting efforts for the 2021 redistricting cycle.

Contact Information:

Julie Sarkissian


Since 2016, Julie has focused on voter services, providing voter registration, training, and organizing volunteers for voter registration and Get Out the Vote events. She was co-chair of the Mercer Island unit for two years, organized the unit’s response to a Black Lives Matter march, and assisted with organizing candidate forums for city, school board, and legislative district elections.

Julie is retired from a career in public health working as an administrator and manager in a variety of programs, including family planning and outreach/access to medical coverage and services. In addition to serving on two boards, she has volunteered for a variety of nonprofits.

Julie is married with one adult son and enjoys travel, hiking, and cooking.

Contact Information:

Cynthia Stewart

Housing and Homeless,

Cynthia Stewart has worked for decades in the field of public works, including management roles on the King County Council central staff, the King County solid waste division, and the King County airport, where she was designated Airport Manager of the Year by the Washington State Department of Transportation. She has also consulted with small cities on development of capital facilities plans and served as deputy county manager in Thurston County, where she was responsible for finance, including funding of the capital facilities plan.

After retiring, Cynthia became an active League of Women Voters member and has served on the LWVWA Advocacy Team for transportation and as support for health care and revenue. In the last several years, she has worked intensively on homelessness issues and now lobbies for the League on housing/homelessness and revenue as well as transportation.

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