Jeanne Kohl-Welles

Meet Jeanne

Jeanne was born in Wisconsin to a public school teacher and a roofing construction contractor. The family moved to California when she was a young child and lived there until Jeanne moved to Seattle in 1985. Currently, she lives in Belltown with her husband of 33 years and has five children and four grandchildren.

Jeanne served in the Washington State Legislature for 23 years, holds a Ph.D. in Sociology of Education and an M.A. in Sociology from UCLA, and was a public school teacher in Los Angeles. She was an adjunct professor at U.W. and Pacific Lutheran University, and principal investigator on school sexual abuse and women and girls in school sports research. Jeanne has served as an expert witness in Title IX/sexual harassment lawsuits and as a Humanities Washington Speaker on human trafficking and women as political change agents.

Prior to moving to Seattle in 1985, she taught in the California State University system, was Assistant Dean of Women’s Programs at UC Irvine, served as an Educational Equity Specialist for the U.S. Department of Education assisting school districts in implementing Title IX, and was a consultant with the U.S. Office of Civil Rights on nondiscrimination in education laws

Jeanne has always been personally and professionally dedicated to equity and social justice, which led to her involvement in public policymaking and politics.

Jeanne serves as the Chair of the King County Board of Health and of the King County Council’s Health, Housing & Human Services Committee, and is Vice Chair of the Council’s Committee of the Whole. She also serves on the Council’s Mobility and Environment, Budget and Fiscal Management, and Government Accountability and Oversight Committees. In addition, Jeanne serves on the Regional Policy Committee and represents the Council on the Growth Management Planning Council, the Woodland Park Zoo Board, and the MIDD (Mental Illness and Drug Dependency) Advisory Committee.

She continues to be very involved in the community, e.g., on the U.W. Harry Bridges Labor Center Visiting Committee (currently), Transportation Choices Coalition Board, Queen Anne Helpline Board, and as a “Lifetime Honored Member” of the Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle.

Jeanne has received numerous recognitions and awards, including:


Lifetime Achievement Award, Low Income Housing Alliance (2015);

Outstanding Cannabis Activist for Outstanding Achievement in the Advancement of Washington Law Reform from Seattle Hempfest (2015);


Most Effective Democratic Senator in the Washington State Senate 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);
Pacesetter Award, Women’s Legislative Lobby (2002);
Marching toward Equity Award, Washington Federation of Teachers (2001);
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).

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