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Overcoming adversity early in life

Kristine grew up the daughter of a single mother who struggled with substance abuse and relied heavily on social services including Head Start and food stamps. In and out of foster care and even homeless at points in her childhood, Kristine’s journey to elected state representative, a Director of Economic Development in the Commerce Department, and happily married mother of two children is a testimony to the value of public education and the critical investment of public-school educators in transforming her life and helping her break the cycle of poverty. The first in her family to graduate from college, Kristine received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Washington State University (Go Cougs!) and a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University in Spokane.

Helping Veterans and Military Families 

Kristine is the daughter, granddaughter and twin sister of veterans, which fuels her passion for military families. She has served the state as an immigration advisor to several higher education institutions helping hundreds of international students pursue education opportunities in the United States. Then as the South Sound Regional Director and Statewide Veterans Representative for US Senator Patty Murray, she worked on veterans’ health care, improving military transition and workforce development. She worked for 6.5 years in the Washington Commerce Department as the Director of the Military and Defense Sector, where she helped foster economic opportunities for military families, veterans, and the community. In this role, Kristine helped secure millions of dollars in federal grants to improve private sector job growth, supported military personnel transitioning to private sector jobs, and supported the 1900+ small businesses in the defense sector supply chain during the Department of Defense downsizing.

Achievements

Kristine’s hard work combined with a unique background and professional perspective played an important role in multiple achievements that have provided a national model for progressive action:

  • ensuring educators can afford to live and work in the communities in which they teach our kids

  • launching a Career Connect program that’s linking tens of thousands of students with apprenticeships and on-the-job training

  • passing the country’s most progressive paid family leave policy to care for loved ones or newborns

  • creating the country’s first long term health care benefit to help seniors stay in their homes

  • pushing for the state’s first environmental justice directive to combat climate change and protect communities of color

  • leading the effort to make childcare more accessible and affordable for ALL working families

Mom, wife, trailblazer

Kristine is the mom to two amazing kiddos and is married to her longtime sweetheart Camron. In 2016 Kristine was the first African American woman elected to the Washington House in 18 years, and the only woman in the legislature with children under the age of 5.