Meet Our Advocacy Team
The League of Women Voters of Washington has a large advocacy team made up of issues chairs, a paid contract lobbyist, and a team of volunteer advocates who support their work.
LWVWA Issue Chairs
The following people are volunteer lobbyists on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Washington State.
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.
Mary Lynne CourtneyBehavioral Health Care
Mary Lynne Courtney is a retired child/adolescent clinical psychologist. She practiced in North Carolina and Washington State. Prior to returning to school to train as a psychologist, she worked as a computer software consultant for small businesses.
She joined the League in 2018. Currently, she is Co-chair of the LWV-BWC Healthcare Issues Team and a member of the Public Hospital District Civics Education Committee. In addition to her League activities, she is active in local disaster response groups.
She grew up In Chicago, briefly lived in New York State, and then moved in North Carolina where she lived for 27 years. She and her husband moved to Bellingham Washington in 2008 after being lured by the idyllic weather in the Pacific Northwest in August.
Jody A. DisneyHealth Care
Jody A. Disney was born in Germany and traveled around the world throughout her first 15 years with her family and father in the US Air Force. Jody graduated from High School in Olympia, WA.
Having always wanted to be a clinical nurse, she worked her way through college and graduate school at UCSF, UNM, and earned her Doctoral Degree from the University of Arizona. For twenty-five years she practiced as a Certified Nurse Midwife where her focus was caring for underserved families, a thread throughout her long professional career. After a final ten years as a School Nurse and Administrator, she retired.
Jody joined the Thurston League in 2018. She has focused her work with LWV-Thurston on Activism, Equity and Social Media support. Jody is on the PHD Civics Education Project for LWVWA, the LWVWA Healthcare Affinity Group and the HC4US Behavioral Health Affinity Group for LWVUS.
Jody has two adult children. She enjoys working in glass, travelling, walking, and gardening. She spends her winters in Tucson, AZ. And takes her beloved cat Tank with her.
Dee Anne FinkenLocal News
Dee Anne Finken is a former journalist who reported for The Fresno Bee and The Oregonian newspapers before becoming a tenured faculty member at Clark College. There she directed the journalism program until her retirement in 2018.
She co-chaired the LWVWA study “The Decline of Local News and Its Impact on Democracy” and now chairs the state League’s Local News Committee. She believes strongly that local news serves a vital role in our efforts to defend democracy and empower and educate voters.
She lives in Vancouver with her husband of 41 years. They have two adult sons and two grandsons. In addition to her volunteer work with the League, she offers pro bono coaching to early career journalists, swims, enjoys time with family and friends and reads newspapers — in print and online.
Martin GibbinsClimate 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.
Child Custody and Support; Children's Services
Janet lived in the Tri-City area until 1996 when she moved to Auburn. She has two grown children and a Sheltie. She worked for non-profits primarily with low-income women and children. When she retired she moved to Vancouver where her daughter lives and enjoys gardening, travel, baking, theater and tai chi.
She has volunteered with environmental groups and continues to advocate for climate justice for the planet and its inhabitants. She joined LWV in 2020 just before the Covid shut down. All her participation has been virtual and she is very excited to get to live meetings.
Heather grew up in California and attended Mount Holyoke University in Massachusetts, where she earned degrees in Psychology and Spanish. After graduating, she worked as a paralegal at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. She went on to earn her J.D. at UC College of the Law, San Francisco and started a criminal defense law practice. Heather joined the League in 2016. Two years later, she successfully petitioned LWVWA to create the position she now holds as Criminal Justice Issue Chair.
Heather also serves as President of the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County. She lives in Phinney Ridge with her husband and two sons.
Kate is a retired Certified Property Manager most recently with Trammell Crow Company. She owned the bakery Rudy's Patisserie in west Baltimore, MD for 10 years. She began managing commercial property with the shopping center where one of her bakery outlets was located. Kate joined LWV of Snohomish County in 2013 where she found talented, interested people engaged in the work of strengthening democracy.
Her interest in forest issues grew out of the LWV of Snohomish County’s Tree Campaign. LWVSC is shepherding an Urban Tree Canopy Policy in the 2024 county Comprehensive Plan Update. Laws and policies governing urban trees in state law led to the question of whether trees in urban areas and in forest lands could be better managed to provide climate mitigation and biodiversity.
Cindy Madigan grew up in Wisconsin and moved to Washington State in 1987. She recently retired as Fiscal Director for Northwest Regional Council, a local government health and social services agency, and has been an active League member since 2017. She 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 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 for several years before becoming issue chair. Reading, bicycling, walking, and collaborating with others to defend democracy fulfill her life.
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.
Solid Waste Management
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...and Rethink!—Ann’s mantra as Education Coordinator for the Spokane Regional Solid Waste System for 25 years is the basis for her passion and knowledge of handling waste. In the solid waste arena Ann worked with statewide groups: Environmental Education Association of Washington (Green Schools Program & Secretary) and Washington Recycling Association (named to Recycling Hall of Fame-2011)
As a League member previously served: LWVWA – Waste Diversion Advocate (2022), Lobby Team Chair (2018-20), Action Chair (2018-19), President (2015-2019), Education Fund Board (2011-15), Ed Fund Treasurer (2013-15). LWV Spokane Area – member since 1982; offices held: President, Vice President/ Action Chair, Secretary, VOTER Editor, Program Issue Chair. Also, past membership in LWV Pullman & former Othello UAL.
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.
Early Care and Education of Young Children
Karen Tvedt worked for decades on public policy and research issues specializing in child care, early education and family policy. Among her many roles, she operated child care programs, served as a child welfare social worker, oversaw statewide child care licensing, subsidies and quality activities in Washington State, and was director of child care policy and research for the federal government in Washington DC.
Karen joined the League of Women Voters of Thurston County in 2009, serving on the board from 2010 through 2017 and local president from 2020-2022. From 2010-2015, she was a member of the League’s statewide lobby team working on issues of child care and early learning. Karen is passionate about issues of social justice and is committed to sound public policy and research-based efforts in addressing the many challenges we face as a society.
Returning to Washington State in 2005, Karen worked for the Governor’s Office as director of the Early Learning Council and coordinated the federal Child Care Policy and Research Consortium as a consultant. She has an MPA from The Evergreen State College, a Ph.D. in Social Work and Social Research from Portland State University and was ordained as a Buddhist Chaplain in 2019. In retirement, Karen has helped care for her elderly parents while volunteering with the League of Women Voters, Interfaith Works, Assured Hospice, and the Washington State Correctional Center in Shelton.
The following people are volunteer advocates who support the work of our Issue Chairs. They do not lobby on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Washington State.