Meet the Issue Chairs
The following people are volunteer lobbyist on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Washington State.
Please click on the name below to read a biography and see contact information.
mvonhoff [at] lwvwa.org
Raised in Vancouver, WA, Maddy has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in French from Western Washington University. Her interest in advocacy started with studying abroad in Kenya, and she has spent the last 5+ years advocating at the congressional level to protect foreign aid and international development. She has worked and volunteered for a variety of nonprofits in the Seattle area, including the World Affairs Council, Forterra, GeekGirlCon, The ONE Campaign, and spent two years at the ACLU-WA, first as a Legislative Aide and then as a Project Manager for the Alternatives to the Death Penalty Campaign.
She currently works at The ONE Campaign as the Manager for College Organizing, managing the advocacy of student leaders and chapters in 17 states in the western region of the United States to end extreme poverty and preventable disease. She is based in Seattle and has lived here the last 6 years.
Ensure the state follows through with its promise of fully funding education. Promote professional development for civics teachers.
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 is a part of the McCleary lawsuit, and also represents LWVWA in the Charter School lawsuit.
cathahl [at] hotmail.com
Ensure equality of opportunity, prevent and reduce poverty and promote fair policies for all struggling to realize their human potential.
Amy Davis was born and raised in Seattle, Washington and received her BA from Western Washington State in Education majoring in History with a double minor in Political Science and Psychology. After living 30 some years in Southern California, she moved back to the Pacific Northwest, and discovered the League of Women Voters of Mason County. She served two terms as President of the LWVMC, is currently on the Voter Services Committee, and is co-chair on Programs Committee.
Her other interests and activities include reading, gardening, residential architecture, raising and tending chickens and sheep.
adavis [at] lwvwa.org
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions, put a price on carbon, and enact measures to promote climate resiliency.
Phyllis was born in Birmingham and still has relatives in the deep South she likes to visit. She was raised in Iowa and received her B.S. and M.A. degrees from the University of Iowa. She moved to Washington in 1976 and the Olympia area has become home. She retired from the North Thurston Public Schools after 35 years of teaching and is enjoying her retirement! She volunteers with political, community and environmental groups.
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.
phyllisfarrell681 [at] hotmail.com
Limit accessibility of firearms, including assault-style weapons and high capacity clips. Enact safe storage requirements for guns.
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.
pgriffith [at] lwvwa.org
Support the state and local governmental programs empowered to protect our water quantity and quality, groundwater and in stream flows.
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.
mgibbins [at] lwvwa.org
Protect our forests from destructive wildfires and logging practices. Protect our northwest public lands and rivers systems.
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.
rgold [at] lwvwa.org
Heather Kelly grew up in Ojai, California and met her husband, Brian, in high school. She left the citrus groves of Ojai for college in snowy Massachusetts, studying Psychology and Spanish at Mount Holyoke. After graduating in 2005, Heather returned to California and worked as a paralegal at the San Francisco Public Defender's Office. Heather fell in love with the face-paced world of criminal defense and decided to pursue a law degree. She graduated from U.C. Hastings College of the Law in 2011. Seeking a balance between litigation and motherhood, Heather branched into private practice and now offers legal research and writing support to other trial attorneys. She and Brian live in Phinney Ridge with their sons Liam (aged 5) and Gabe (aged 2). Heather joined the League in 2017 to become more engaged in the political life of her new city and is the Action Chair of the Seattle King County League.
Adopt fair revenue policies to adequately fund services and functions critical to the well-being of the people of our state.
Nora has been with the League of Women Voters for more than 17 years. She is best known for her work on Privatization authoring the Seattle Leagues’ study, followed by the National League’s study. These efforts resulted in consensus positions for our local, state and nation on the topic. Nora currently serves as the chair of the Seattle League’s economic and taxation committee in addition to her work on the State lobby team. In the past Nora served as the Voter Editor and Program Chair while serving on the Seattle board of directors. She comes from a long career (20+ years) in public relations and fundraising for nonprofits in Seattle as well 5 years as a teacher overseas most recently as a Peace Corps volunteer (2012-2014) in Colombia.
nleech [at] lwvwa.org
With a background in regional environmental history and watershed volunteerism, Karen has been involved with several nonprofits in King County, including the Friends of the Cedar River Watershed, Seattle Tilth (now Tilth Alliance), and WSU King County Extension. She completed a certificate in Wetlands Science and Management at the University of Washington and has worked as a grants and contracts manager for UW for nine years. Since 2017, she has shadowed former Lobby Team member Ann Aagaard in her work with the Environmental Caucus, the multi-agency group assisting the Puget Sound Partnership. Karen is aware that we Washingtonians are making decisions now that will impact generations to come. She hopes to assist League members and state voters to make informed decisions.
Ensure the redistricting process is transparent, fair and representative of our communities.
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.
alison.mccaffree [at] stanfordalumni.org
Protect the Energy Independence Act, increase renewable power use and promote energy conservation in building and lifestyle practices.
I am a citizen lobbyist with the League of Women Voters of Washington. My areas of concern are energy and climate change policy. I work with other members of the Natural Resources group to protect our planet and ourselves. I have been doing this for over six years. Politics fascinates me. The League offers me a wonderful opportunity to put all my passions together.
It should surprise no one that I have a degree in Political Science as well as a Masters degree in Library Science. I have lived in Olympia for over thirty years and I am retired from the Washington State Library. I have a daughter who lives in Montana and we share our enthusiasm for both the environment and the political process.
Ensuring Washington State elections are conducted in secure and accurate ways.
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.”
kpmueller [at] gmail.com
rodmanjo45 [at] gmail.com
Expand opportunities to vote, promote more representative elections systems, enable greater civic involvement, empower disenfranchised communities, reduce the influence of special interest money and increase transparency in politics.
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.”
ksakahara [at] lwvwa.org
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.
Elyette is a graduate of Douglass College, Rutgers University, Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa and a graduate of New York University School of Law. For approximately forty years, I practiced law in New York and Washington State as an attorney for federal, city and state governments. This work included litigation, analyzing and drafting legislation, amendments and regulations. I also advised and testified before Washington State legislative committees and agencies. My work for the legislative committees required that I review fiscal notes and budget issues.
I have a moral obligation to fight climate change. I think that I can be useful working with the League Lobby Team on environmental issues through written analysis and testimony.
eweinstein [at] lwvwa.org