Meet Jeanne

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, has represented the 36th Legislative District in the Senate since 1994 after serving for three years in the state House of Representatives where she was Majority Whip. In addition to her position as ranking member of the Senate Higher Education Committee, Jeanne sits on the Senate Ways & Means, Rules, and Commerce and Labor committees.

She is the secretary, and past chair, of the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Committee, chairs the Joint Legislative Systems Committee and is co-chair of the Washington State Institute for Public Policy Board. She also is a member of the Joint Higher Education Committee, Washington State Arts Commission, the Committee on Advanced Tuition Payment, and represents the Senate Democratic Caucus on the Host Committee for planning the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Annual Summit to be held in Seattle, August, 2015. She represents Washington on the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and on the Education Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Jeanne is also a member of the UW Women’s Center Anti-Trafficking Task Force and the Statewide Coordinating Committee on Sex Trafficking and the Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Statewide Coordinating Committee.

As a 2012-14 Humanities Washington speaker, Jeanne speaks around the state to groups and organizations 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. Jeanne is also a published author of academic and general readership books. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology of Education and 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.

Jeanne worked as a public school teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District where she was a training and demonstration teacher and earned a school administration credential at California State University Fullerton. Jeanne was an adjunct faculty member in the Women 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.

Before 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 currently serves on the Board of the Women’s Legislative Network of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), having previously served as President. She also currently serves on NCSL’s Foundation Board, and had served as NCSL’s overall vice Chair of the Standing Committees and as an Executive Committee member. She was a member of the Center for Women Policy Studies’ Legislative Leadership Council on Women and HIV/AIDS and a fellow with its Foreign Policy Institute and Global Power Program. She also was a fellow with the Center for Policy Alternatives’ Flemming Fellows Program and Eleanor Roosevelt Global Leadership Institute.

Jeanne is an international speaker on women in politics and public policy and human trafficking and recently took part in the Multidisciplinary Intellectual Exchange on Human Trafficking for Women Leaders from the U.S., Japan, South Korea and the Philippines in Hawaii and spoke on trafficking and domestic violence at the 2007 Vital Voices Global Partnership Women’s Leadership Summit in Kiev, Ukraine. Her legislation regulating international matchmaking organizations (mail-order bride protections) was the first enacted in the United States and served as a model for the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act, enacted in 2005 and sponsored by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, D-WA, and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-WA. Thirteen of her anti-trafficking bills have been enacted into law since 2002.

Jeanne has been very involved in the community, e.g., currently serving as a member of the Queen Anne Helpline Board, (past Metropolitan Democratic Club Board) and the U.W. Harry Bridges Labor Center Visiting Committee, and speaker with U.S. Department of State International Visitors Program, World Affairs Council, Seattle.
She recently co-founded a new organization, WWW (Win With Women) PAC that is working to help get progressive women elected to the Washington State Legislature.

Jeanne has received numerous recognitions and awards, including: Most effective Democratic in Washington State Legislature from the Washington Post (2014); Lifetime Achievement Award from the Metropolitan Democratic Club (2013); the Visionary Leadership Award from the Committee for Children (2013); an A+ score from the Children’s Campaign Fund (2013); Washington’s Most Progressive State Senator by the Progressive Democrats of America (2013); an “A” rating on the Racial Justice Report Card from the Washington Community Action Network (2013); Legislator of the Week, Washington Low-Income Housing Alliance (Feb. 25-March 1, 2013); Woman of Courage Honoree, University of Washington Women’s Center (2012); Legislator Wine Integrity Award, Family Wineries of Washington (2012); Legislative Champion, Mockingbird Society (2013, 2012); Housing Hero, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance/Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness (2013, 2012 and 2011); Lincoln Freedom Award, Seattle Against Slavery (2010); Leadership Award, Statewide Poverty Action Network (2010); Legislator of the Year, Humane Society of the U.S. (2010); Special Recognition, UAW, Graduate and Professional Students of the U.W. (2010); Legislator of the Week, Washington BUS (March 6, 2009); Shining Star, Planned Parenthood (2009); Washington Sizzle Award “Committee Chair of the Year,” FUSE (2009); Legislator of the Year, Progressive States Network (2007); Pacesetter Award, Women’s Legislative Lobby (2007); Ancil Payne Leadership Award, Washington CeaseFire (2007); Public Policy Official Recognition, Jewish Federation of Seattle and King County (2007); Louise Miller Arts Advocacy Award, Washington State Arts Alliance (2007); Angel for Children Award, Parents for Safe Child Care (2007); Champion, School Meals Access Coalition (2007); Legislator of the Year, SEIU 775 (2006); Legislator of Year Award, AFT-Washington (2006); Anchor Award, Washington Credit Union League (Feb. 2006); Legislator of the Month for human trafficking legislation, Center for Policy Alternatives (June 2005); Good Deeds Recognition, Washington Conservation Voters (2004); Queen Anne Citizen of the Decade, Queen Anne/Magnolia News (November 2002); Humane Hero Award, PAWS, Washington State (2002); Marching toward Equity Award, Washington Federation of Teachers (2001); Pacesetter Award, Women’s Legislative Lobby (2002); Honorary Advisory Board, National Education for Women’s Leadership Program (NEW Leadership), Washington State University (2001-02); Legislator of the Year, Washington Student Lobby (1999); Child Care Champion Award, Child Care Works (1998); Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Women’s Conference Circle (1995-98); YouthCare Advocate of the Year (1995); Washington Defenders Association and Washington Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys Advocate of the Year (1995, 1996); Woman of Achievement Award, Business and Professional Women—Washington State (1995).