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. 

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.

Contact Information:

Mary Lynne Courtney

Behavioral 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.

Contact Information:

Jody A. Disney

Health 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.

Contact Information:

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.

Contact Information:

Janet Hedgepath

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.

Contact Information:

Heather Kelly

Criminal Justice

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.

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:

Ann Murphy

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.

Contact Information:
(509) 385-8910

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.

Contact Information:

Carol Sullivan


Carol, a native Washingtonian, taught high school English and journalism, and later taught both ends of the spectrum with gifted preschool students at The Evergreen School in Shoreline, and special needs preschoolers in Skagit area.

Somewhere in the middle, she raised six children, and her volunteer activities centered around her children.

After retiring, she taught English in Tanzania, India and Xian, China, and traveled to many parts of the world. Skiing and bicycling as much as possible when home.

With LWV Skagit, Carol served as Membership chair and Action and Advocacy Chair for the 2021 Legislative session. That became ACT (Action Coffee Time) via Zoom for the 2022 session and provided background to state legislation in support of the LWVWA Legislative Newsletter to LWV members and guests statewide. With excellent mentoring from Cindy Madigan (and Kathy Sakahara), Carol served as Elections and Voting Advocate during the last legislative session. She’s still surprised at how much fun it is—despite the hard work—to be part of Lobby Team.

Contact Information:

Karen Tvedt

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.

Contact Information:


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. 

Kimberly Abbey

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.

Contact Information:

Deb Carstens

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.

Contact Information:

Phyllis Farrell

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.

Contact Information:
(360) 789-8307

Raelene Gold

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.

Contact Information:

Wendy Pierce

Wendy Pierce joined LWV of Snohomish County in 2022 and is pleased to serve with the Democracy Team in the area of Elections & Voting. Before retiring in 2020, Wendy spent most of her working years in Health Information Technology with a focus in the area of Training & Organizational Development. She had the privilege of leading projects and programs in many renowned healthcare organizations through the years (Seattle Children’s, Mayo Clinic, UCLA Health System, Inova, and Montefiore, to name a few). Her final project was with the Department of Defense (Defense Health Agency) where she led a training initiative encompassing 140,000+ military health employees around the world.

Wendy’s family was originally from Rhode Island but she grew up mainly in the Los Angeles area. She decided on the Pacific Northwest as the place to attend college and received her B.A. in English from Seattle University. She also holds a M.A. in Leadership Studies/Organizational Development. Since retiring, Wendy has been serving on her local Library Board and taking piano lessons in a hopeful attempt to revive some long-lost skills. She and her husband Walt live in Duvall. They enjoy boating in the great northwest—and, most of all, time with their three grown sons and two grandchildren.

Contact Information:


Tressa Sloan Kentner

Tressa Kentner was born and spent most of her life in California, where she had a 36-year career in local government in four counties. During that career she worked in the welfare department, child support enforcement and finally in the California Court system. She began her 21-year career as a Court Executive Officer in Sonoma County and moved to San Bernardino County which she retired from in 2011. She was involved in various aspects of legislation during most of her career.

She served on the California Judicial Council and received the Judicial Council’s Distinguished Service award in 2006.

After retiring, Tressa lived and was active in Claremont, CA, including serving as President of the local League of Women Voters for three years. In 2019, she and her husband moved to Edmonds. Tressa is a member of the LWV of Snohomish County. On a personal note, Tressa became severely hearing impaired in college. This gives her a deep understanding of the challenges faced by people with disabilities, as well as an understanding of the challenges people with chronic disease face with the US health system.

Sherri Dysart

Sherry has resided in Washington State for most of her 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 an advocate.

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