IGNITE is thrilled to introduce Camille Gix as this year's Seattle fellow. We talked to Camille about her journey supporting local communities and what is on the horizon for this year as she embarks on her journey as an IGNITE fellow.
IGNITE: Congratulations, Camille! We are so excited you are joining IGNITE as the Seattle fellow. What interested you in serving in this role?
CG: IGNITE is in the business of empowering young women to become leaders and community organizers, which for me, is the perfect intersection of where I have been and where I am going. I have spent the last few years developing and managing youth programs, focusing on topics ranging from personal social and emotional development for elementary-aged kids to career exploration for high school migrant girls.
As a fellow for IGNITE, I am thrilled to use my own leadership experience to build coalitions of young women from all backgrounds in Seattle to build their unique leadership abilities and organize for equitable solutions to various local issues.
IGNITE: Speaking of local issues, what do you hope to change in Seattle?
CG: I am incredibly passionate about policy and organizing focused on economic justice due to where I find myself living. Seattle is a place that is exceptionally qualified to demonstrate the vast inequality that exists in the United States. Our city is home to the two richest people in the world and one of the fastest-growing housing and houselessness crisis' in the country. Throughout my childhood, this was starkly obvious in the differences in everything from housing access to public school quality.
IGNITE: What type of work have you done to champion these inequalities?
CG: As chair for my local party organization's Policy and Advocacy Committee, I have worked hard to help pass policies focused on economic justice. This work has ranged from advocating for statewide legislation to balance Washington's incredibly regressive tax code to promoting community coalition work regarding tenant discrimination and the creation of affordable housing.
IGNITE: We love to see it! Let's talk about civic engagement. Why is it important to you?
CG: Civic engagement is a crucial part of any nation. Democracy only works when a diverse group of people with an intersectional lens is participating. This can take the form of voter registration and get-out-the-vote campaigns. It can look like encouraging political involvement in family and peers. It can also take the form of participatory budgeting. Seattle is one of many cities around the U.S. that is beginning to push a solidarity budget. This is a compelling way that constituents can get involved with city planning and equitable financial processes. The wider diversity that we can get involved, the more representative our budgets and democracy will be.
IGNITE: Now, tell us more about your political leadership. When did you begin flexing your political power?
CG: Since high school, I have been deeply passionate about political organizing. I interned for my first campaign when I was 17, working in volunteer recruitment and organizing for the Washington "Approve R74" state campaign for marriage equality. I continued my political involvement throughout college both on campus and in the San Luis Obispo community where I attended Cal Poly. I joined the SLO Solidarity movement to help progress LGBTQ+ and BIPOC rights and safety in the community. I also participated in training and advocacy work through the undocumented students and allies working group.
IGNITE: What have you been up to recently?
CG: Within the past few months, I was elected to the executive board of my legislative districts' Democratic party organization. Our delegation noted recently that this years' legislative session marked a large increase in constituent advocacy, thanks to our committee's work. At a local level, we are charging forth with several community coalitions to pass renter protection policies and eliminate the harmful sweeps of homeless encampments. At a federal level, I have spearheaded the party's movement at a state level in lobbying our senators to eliminate the filibuster and therefore improve our democracy.
IGNITE: That's what IGNITE is all about, empowering young women with a passion for change and the community to step into their power. How will you empower young women in Seattle?
CG: As a lifelong Seattleite and former student of the public school system, I would use my many connections to Seattle Public Schools, the University of Washington, and the Democratic party to develop and maintain programming aimed at the diverse youth of my city. I have a strong ability to relate to the young woman with whom I would be working. At a deep core level, I understand what it is like to be bullied throughout school, struggle with mental health issues, be incredibly introverted, and still seek out leadership. Despite the many negative experiences I had in school growing up, I found my inner-activist and ran for my high school student body government. These experiences would help immensely as an IGNITE fellow to both develop partnerships with existing leaders and organizations to motivate girls to take on leadership.
IGNITE: We can't wait to watch you as you inspire political leaders in Seattle! What does leadership mean to you?
CG: To me, leadership can inspire and empower others to utilize their strengths for movement and progress. I believe that no matter who someone is or what their perceived weaknesses are, every single person can mobilize and be a leader with the proper encouragement and mentorship.
IGNITE: At IGNITE, we're trying to broaden the definition of what it means to be a political leader. It's so much more than just being an elected leader. Political leaders can also be community organizers, policymakers, and campaign staffers. What leadership role do you identify with and how do you want that to play out in your political career?
CG: This is an excellent point and one that I wish I had known at an earlier age. If I had, I probably would have begun a political career nine years ago when I graduated high school, but I gained experience and learned, and now I am very confident in my next steps. At this moment in my life, I identify most with the role of campaign staffer, with most of my experience coming from policy-based campaigns. However, my aspirational identity is with the policymaker. This is why I am returning to school to study social policy and, hopefully, one day hold a role in developing and championing innovative policy solutions to some of the most critical issues in my community.
IGNITE: Camille, any closing comments to add?
CG: Only that I am so excited and ready to get to work connecting the other young womxn of my community with opportunities and mentorship that I have craved since high school. My goal as a fellow is to fulfill the role of what I wish I had when I was 18, take the hands of young activists, and show them all of the different changes they have to make our community more equitably and justly represented.
More about Camille
Camille Gix is the IGNITE Seattle Fellow. She is a first-year Master of Public Administration student at the University of Washington Evans School, specializing in Social Policy. Camille serves as Policy Chair position for my legislative district's Democratic party and the Platform Committee Chair position for the Washington Progressive Caucus. She is also working on a ballot initiative opposition campaign in Seattle called House Our Neighbors. Since high school, local politics has been her passion when she interned for the Washington state campaign for marriage equality. In undergrad, she became a precinct delegate for the Sanders presidential bid. Camille recently returned to her hometown of Seattle after four years living in Ecuador and later Chile as a youth program manager. For Seattle inquires, contact email@example.com.