Silvia Giannattasio-Lugo remembers when the young girls would come into the office she works at to participate in leadership programs. She loved to see how they genuinely connected with each other. She especially loved open-mic nights, when young girls came together to celebrate with each other.
“I didn’t get to see a lot of that growing up,” she says. “It was lonely for me growing up not always having a community there to celebrate with me.”
Today, Giannattasio-Lugo is the director of development and communication at Young Women Empowered (Y-WE), a nonprofit based in Beacon Hill. Y-WE connects young women with leadership and skills programs, such as their community garden or summer camps. She’s a pillar in the organization’s fundraising operations, where she helps sustain relationships between sponsors and Y-WE.
“It’s hard for anyone to understand policy or big words and everything that’s being thrown at you, so I liked communications because it bridged that, it made things accessible,” she says in an interview with the Emerald.
As an immigrant from an increasingly oppressive state, make no mistake — I love getting to have elections.
But I sure hate election season.
I used to feel ignorant when pundits confidently dissected policy points. Over time, I grew frustrated as experience showed me that the pundits are often oversimplifying. This year, a new emotion is joining the mix: longing.
What if choosing leaders felt more like the sacred collective experience it could be? Less like patriotic duty and more like a patriotic harvest?
Since time immemorial, Indigenous people have celebrated storytelling as a way to connect the present to past lessons and future dreaming. Narrative sovereignty is a form of land guardianship, and Nia Tero supports this work through its storytelling initiatives, including the Seedcast podcast, as well as in this column for media partner the South Seattle Emerald.
On March 24, my colleagues and I on Nia Tero’s Seedcast team will release the first episode of our new season of the podcast, featuring an interview with Colleen Echohawk, executive director of Chief Seattle Club. Colleen is an enrolled member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, and she is also adopted into the Ahtna/Athabaskan community where she grew up in Mentasta Lake, Alaska. I was honored to interview Colleen for the episode, which is focused on Colleen’s exploration of what shaped her into the leader she is today, with an emphasis on her Indigenous heritage.