I was attending my first Foster Youth and Alumni Leadership Summit this past August, when I randomly met Kim Justice for the first time. I had no idea who she was, but learned that she was a member of the Board of Directors for The Mockingbird Society. As I watched Kim prepare for her Summit speech I thought, “What a natural!” In December, Kim was hired to be the Director of the Office of Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection. I wanted to get a better idea of why she continues to do the work she does, so I interviewed her for the Times.
In 2002, when Kim was working as an aide to Speaker of the House, Frank Chopp, she attended Mockingbird’s first Youth Advocacy Day. She said, “Witnessing first-hand the power of young people filling the halls of the state capitol and sharing their stories with lawmakers was an experience that touched me to the core and that I carried with me for years. It was a powerful example of effective advocacy that has had a long-lasting impact on my own career in legislative advocacy.”
Kim believes that all people should have access to a high quality of life and opportunities to thrive. Before focusing her efforts on youth and young adults, Kim worked to create better opportunities for people with low incomes.
In Kim’s free time she likes to get out into the wilderness, work on home improvement projects, and spend time with her chosen family including her wife Reanna, and her dog, Mario. In her new position, she will be working with an advisory committee to advance a set of policy, funding, and practice recommendations to address system gaps and improve the safety, health, and wellbeing of homeless youth in our state. I applaud Kim’s hard work and dedication to making youth homelessness rare, brief, and one time in our state.
The first time I ever met Casey was this April, after we watched Governor Inslee sign the Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection act. We were all waiting for clearance at the entrance to the Governor’s mansion and I didn’t know some of the people around me. I talked to one of his associates and Casey joined our conversation. It was interesting to learn why Casey does the work that he does as an attorney and advocate for homeless and foster youth.
Then, when I found out that he had accepted a new position as Program Officer at the Raikes Foundation this November, I was ecstatic! Curious about how taking this position would impact his advocacy work, I decided to interview him.
Casey met Jim Theofelis back (like in the ‘90’s) when Casey was working at the University District Youth Center. After studying programs for homeless youth in Latin America, Casey and Jim started working on homeless youth issues in Seattle. When Mockingbird officially started, Casey was already working as an attorney for homeless youth and would often collaborate on advocacy and legislative issues with Jim.
I asked him what motivates him for this kind of work and he said, “There are few things more amazing to me than someone who overcomes the odds, than someone perceived as powerless taking on powerful institutions and powerful people and being triumphant, not just for themselves but for others.” He said that if he was not advocating for homeless youth issues he would be advocating for international human rights or advocating for young families to have the resources they need to raise their kids. At the Raikes Foundation, he’ll be focused on statewide efforts to prevent and end youth homelessness.
Casey’s personal passions include his family, travel, and the Mariners and Seahawks. Congratulations, Casey, on your new job. And thank you for all you do in partnership with Mockingbird to advocate for youth.