Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles represents District 4, which encompasses a large part of the City of Seattle, from Madison Ave. in downtown to 145th Street, the northernmost border of the City with the City of Shoreline, and from Elliott Bay and the Puget Sound to I-5 for most of the district. Councilmember Kohl-Welles took office on January 1, 2016, succeeding Council Chair Larry Phillips who retired. She chairs the King County Council’s Health, Housing & Human Services Committee and the King County Board of Health, and is the Vice Chair of the Council’s Committee of the Whole. Additionally, she serves on the Council’s Mobility and Environment, Budget and Fiscal Management, Government Accountability and Oversight, and Employment and Administration Committees, and is a member of the Regional Policy Committee and a number of outside committees listed here.
Prior to serving on the Council, Jeanne represented the 36th Leg. District in the Washington State Senate since 1994 after serving for three years in the state House of Representatives. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology of Education and an M.A. in Sociology from UCLA and a B.A. and M.A. in Education from California State University Northridge (CSUN), and was a Fannie Mae Foundation Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program.
She represented the State of Washington on the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education for 11 years, serving as Chair in 2016. Jeanne is also a member of the UW Women’s Center Anti-Trafficking Task Force, the Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Statewide Coordinating Committee, and the State Task Force Against Human Trafficking that was created by her Senate Bill 5884 enacted in 2015.
Jeanne is also a published author of academic and general readership books. She worked as a public school teacher and as an adjunct faculty member in the Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies and Sociology Departments and College of Education at the University of Washington for 23 years. She was the principal investigator of two federally-funded research grants on child sexual abuse prevention and girls and women in school sports and has been an expert witness for lawsuits on Title IX and school sexual harassment and misconduct.
Prior to moving to Seattle in 1985, Jeanne served as Assistant Dean/Coordinator of Women’s Programs at the University of California, Irvine, and Educational Equity Specialist for the U.S. Department of Education Region IX, assisting school districts in implementing Title IX. She also served as a consultant with the U.S. Office of Civil Rights, monitoring school districts’ compliance with nondiscrimination in education laws and regulations. In addition, she taught sociology, education and women’s studies courses at California State University, Long Beach & Fullerton.
Jeanne is a national and international speaker on women in politics and public policy and human trafficking. Three local examples include as a 2012-14 Humanities Washington speaker, Jeanne spoke around the state through the Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau on the topic of “Human Trafficking in Washington: From the Historic Mercer Maids to Sexual Exploitation in Internet Ads,” a primary focus of her legislative efforts. She continued speaking for Humanities Washington in 2015-16 on the topic of “Women as Political Change Agents: From the Late 1800s to the Present.” She also is a speaker with the U.S. Department of State International Visitors Program, World Affairs Council in Seattle.
Jeanne has been very involved in the community, e.g., having served as a member of the Queen Anne Helpline Board and the U.W. Harry Bridges Labor Center Visiting Committee. She formerly served for years on the Transportation Choices Coalition Board and is a “Lifetime Honored Member” of the Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle.
Jeanne has received numerous recognitions and awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (2015); Outstanding Cannabis Activist for Outstanding Achievement in the Advancement of Washington Law Reform from Seattle Hempfest (2015); and the Most Effective Democratic Senator in the Washington State Senator from the Washington Post (2014).