Her experience in the criminal justice system drives Michelle Brownlee toward her goal. “I want to go into government and change policies,” she says.
Based on her background and upbringing, no one would have expected Michelle Brownlee to succeed at Tacoma Community College; however, she thrived. From there, she went to The Evergreen State College to complete her undergraduate education, then to the University of Washington for grad school. The future looks bright for the current Master of Social Work student, an award-winning honors scholar. She is getting close to her dream of working in government and doing her part to create systemic change.
Michelle Brownlee: I have mentors who believed in me telling me that, ‘I am are smart enough. You’re good enough.’ when I got to Evergreen, Gilda Shepard told me, ‘You must keep going. You cannot stop. You’ve got to keep going to make change for others and yourself.’ Just having strong people who believe in you helps. I have mentors that will always be on my team.
When I first got out, I was on Policy Council, where I met Clair Wilson who is now Senator Wilson. She has changed my life forever! Clair is always willing to give me a seat at the table. She asks my opinion, and always lets my voice be heard by inviting me to have conversations and attend meetings that make changes. She is the one who inspired me to do the application for the Emerge training.
Brownlee: Emerge is a program that supports and trains progressive Democratic women for office. They take 25 people per year, and I got in the Lisa Brown class of 2020. They teach you how to get your campaign set up, how to fundraise, and support you on running a campaign.
“I figured I just needed to go as far as I can with education. I never thought I'd get a master's degree.”
Brownlee: Senate. There are a lot of things that need to be fixed that I see, especially in the behavioral health field and prison reform. There are too many gaps in services with the same disadvantaged groups of people falling through them.
Brownlee: I have always held myself back; always thinking I was not smart enough or good enough. So, once I found out that I can succeed with education, sky became the limit! I never thought I’d get a master’s degree.
Brownlee: My desire to change policies. I want to work crisis.
Brownlee: I will probably be doing therapy two or three days a week in my own private practice and work in government, making changes.