Meet the Issue Chairs
The following people are volunteer lobbyists on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Washington State.
Kim Abbey has been a member of the LWV of Thurston County since 2017. Retired from Public Health of Seattle King Co. in 2012, she was a Registered Nurse and ARNP in clinical services for thirty years. Kim Abbey has been politically active for Universal Health care since 1999 and was on the Board of Health Care for All-WA for two years. She and her husband moved from north Seattle to Olympia in 2015.
Prior to moving to WA State in 1995, Catherine was the Education Specialist with the National Military Family Association in Washington, DC 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 League of Women Voters of WA and has been following legislation and advocating for education in Olympia ever since. She served on the state League Board from 1998 to 2003, was on the LWV Kitsap Board from 1997 to 2012, serving as President from 2009 to 2012, and served on the North Kitsap School Board from 1999 to 2007. She received the WEA’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.
Catherine represents LWVWA on the NEWS (Network for Excellence in WA Schools) Coalition, that was a part of the McCleary lawsuit, and also represented LWVWA in the Charter School lawsuit.
Deb CarstensCriminal Justice
Deb was born and raised in the Seattle area, and graduated from Willamette University and Willamette University College of Law. After practicing law for nearly 30 years, she retired to become a grant writing consultant.
Deb joined the League of Women Voters in 2017 and has also volunteered with other organizations promoting criminal justice. As Issue Chair for Criminal Justice, she promotes legislation that will make our justice system more equitable for all.
Deb enjoys reading, genealogy, and exploring Seattle on foot.
Phyllis lobbies for policies to improve civic engagement, address climate change, and to protect public lands and clean water. She enjoys hiking, traveling and reading.
Pat’s first experience with LWV was in Columbia, MD in 1970 when the League studied welfare. Its facts were so convincing that she continued with the league when she moved to New Jersey, then to Seattle in 1974. Her interest in gun issues started in the late 80’s with the shooting of a student in front of Ballard High School. Pat organized the forums on gun safety, human trafficking, and internet privacy for the Seattle league. She spent many afternoons collecting signatures for I-594.
Pat is a former small business owner, now retired, and in her third year on the board of the Seattle-King County LWV, currently serving as Action Chair. She participates in lobbying activities with Grandmothers Against Gun Violence and the Alliance for Gun Responsibility.
Martin Gibbins grew up in West Virginia with a brother and a sister. His father was a college professor and his mother was a LWV activist for over 50 years. He earned engineering degrees from Virginia Tech and worked 35 years for Boeing in design, analysis, research, and management. He is now retired, living on a lake in Carnation and enjoys snow skiing in the Cascades, travel, theater, and flying sail planes with Evergreen Soaring.
Martin joined the LWV in early 2017, and joined the Lobby Team to promote legislation that ensured a healthy environment for people and wildlife.
Raelene has been a member of the Lobby Team since 2014 as Issue Chair of Water Resources and the Columbia River, but also working on Tribal Treaty Rights, Rivers, Forests and State Parks. She represents the LWVWA on the NGO and Tribal Caucus for the Columbia River Treaty. She has been active as a volunteer in a number of environmental groups and causes.
She was past President and current Executive Committee member of the Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs, as well as Editor of its newsletter Outdoors West. She also is 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.
Alison McCaffree has a wide range of leadership, management and community organizing experience. Her experience with giving back to her community started at an early age - receiving the Girl Scout Gold Award at age 16. 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 and has held the chief executive spot for last 10 years. She was the Director of Knowledge Transfer for the Leaders for Global Operations program at MIT, Executive Director at an IT consulting nonprofit called, NPower. From 2011 – 2016, Alison launched Washington State’s first nonprofit association, Washington Nonprofits, and grew it to be a powerful agent in enhancing the health and influence of the nonprofit sector.
She has now turned her sights to citizen engagement by leading Politics of the Possible in Action; an organization inspired by the philosophies of her grandmother, a 4-term Washington State representative. Politics of the Possible in Action focuses on increasing citizen engagement in governmental processes, enhancing the public’s knowledge of civics and honoring the service of those who serve the public.
Alison is following in her grandmother's footsteps by heading up the LWVWA's Redistricting efforts for the 2021 redistricting cycle.
Kirstin was born and raised in Seattle, and graduated from the University of Washington with a B.S. in microbiology. She went on to attend Washington University in Saint Louis where she obtained her doctorate in physical therapy. For the last 12 years she has lived in Snohomish County working as a PT and running a small software company with her husband. In her free time Kirstin enjoys practicing sustainable living, and spending time outdoors with her family.
Recently Kirstin became passionate about the need to insure accuracy and security in our elections.
Why I am on the Lobby Team:
“After significant research on the issue, I learned about LWV’s guidelines for conducting evidence based post-election audits. I am proud to lead our advocacy on important election security bills. I hope to continue to expand my focus on advocating for positive election reforms in the future.”
Kathy Sakahara is a lifelong political activist. She ran for the WI House of Representatives at age 23 and has been fascinated by the political process ever since. She served on the board of LWVWA for six years, and most recently served as Vice President of Advocacy. She personally manages all advocacy relating to campaign finance and elections. Kathy served on the board of League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County for two years.
Kathy had a successful career as a presentation coach and trainer to Fortune 500 executives and technical experts. Her specialty was teaching scientists, engineers and other technical specialists to present complex information in a clear, understandable way that facilitated decision-making. She carried that work into her nonprofit career, providing speakers’ bureau consulting, communication, advocacy, and media outreach training to several nonprofits across Washington.
Why I am on the Lobby Team:
“My mantra has always been a combination of a quote from Letters from a Birmingham Jail and the Serenity Prayer: ‘The problem is not words and actions of our enemies, it is the silence and inaction of our friends. I cannot control the former by I can-and will-do something about the latter.’ Being on the LWV Lobby Team is a wonderful opportunity to do just that.”
Cynthia Stewart has worked for decades in the field of public works, including in management roles on the King County Council central staff, King County solid waste division and King County airport, where she was designated Airport Manager of the Year by WA State DOT. She also has consulted with small cities on development of capital facilities plans and served as Deputy County Manager in Thurston County, responsible for finance, including funding of the capital facilities plan. After retiring, she became an active League of Women Voters member and has served on the LWVWA Lobby 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.