Executive meets with employees from Native American Leadership Council  

King County Executive Dow Constantine recently met with employees from the County’s Native American Leadership Council (NALC) to learn about their experiences as employees, what the County can do to bring more Native American employees into its workforce and help them advance, and how the County can be more effective in serving Native people in local communities. 

At his November 19 Employee Listening Session, Executive Constantine discussed a wide range of issues with Tristen Gardner from the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program, Andy Boland from Parks Division, Natasha Frazier from the Department of Public Defense, Richard Shupe with KCIT, Clarissa Antone with Solid Waste Division, Pamela Stearns from the Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Lisa Longdon with the Department of Human Resources, Katherine Festa and Avreayl Jacobson from the Department of Community and Human Services, and Bryon Davis with the Department of Transportation. 

“I want to hear about what you’re experiencing in the workplace and on the ground, and what King County can do to make this a better place to work,” Executive Constantine said. “I want to hear directly from you about the issues facing Native American people in the community but also with respect to being part of the King County workforce.” 

Stearns, who is President of the NALC, gave some background on the Council and the work that they do. “We work together to choose issues that we can work together on as a Council to direct change in our community,” she said. 

The group raised a wide variety of issues, including the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and how the County can be more effective in supporting native people and communities who come into contact with the legal system. 

They also talked about how the County’s job interview processes can actually be a barrier to many Native American applicants who traditionally are taught to be humble rather than boastful when discussing oneself. They also recommended tapping into their network of contacts in community groups to build recruitment pipelines to groups that are being missed with traditional recruiting processes. Building time for more Equity and Social Justice work into employees’ workdays was also an issue the group raised. 

The Employee Listening Sessions are part of the Executive’s commitment to connect more frequently with employees, both in person at worksites and events like this one, and electronically through video and email messages. 

The Listening Session was also attended by Chief Operating Officer Casey Sixkiller, Chief People Officer Whitney Abrams, and Matias Valenzuela, Director of the Office of Equity and Social Justice. The Executive’s team took several of the suggestions from the Council as action items and are working to see how these issues can be addressed. The Executive will host more Employee Listening Sessions in 2019.