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Jolene Unsoeld among outstanding Washingtonians to be honored

Jolene Unsoeld
Jolene Unsoeld Courtesy of John Hughes

Olympia’s Jolene Unsoeld, a former state legislator and member of Congress, is included in a collection of Washingtonians in the profile series “Who are we?” by Legacy Washington.

Legacy Washington began as an oral history program run by the secretary of state’s office, spokesman David Ammons said.

“We just took down a World War II heroes exhibit, “ Ammons said. “The new exhibit, ‘Who we are,’ is about remarkable Washingtonians.”

The exhibit featuring Unsoeld and other honorees launches at 3 p.m. Thursday (Aug. 25) in the State Reception Room on the third floor of the Capitol.

After the launch, attendees can view the exhibit in the front lobby of the secretary of state’s office on the second floor of the Capitol. The privately funded exhibit will be on display through July.

Three of the exhibit’s profile subjects will speak at Thursday’s event: disability activist Duane French; JoAnn Kauffman, who has championed Indian health and justice for more than 40 years; and Bill Ruckelshaus, who was the first head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Ruckelshaus profile is scheduled for release in October, according to a news release.

In addition to Unsoeld, other “Who are we?” profile subjects will be honored at the launch, including:

▪  The Rev. Samuel B. McKinney, the Seattle civil rights activist.

▪  Young Latino winemakers Amy Alvarez-Wampfler and Victor Palencia.

▪  Hank Adams, an Assiniboine-Sioux member who has been involved in key events involving Native Americans, from the 1973 Wounded Knee standoff to the landmark Boldt Decision to salmon preservation. The Adams profile is slated to go online in September.

▪  Rudy Lopez, who achieved the highest enlisted rank in the Air Force — command chief master sergeant — and directs the Veterans Cemetery near Spokane.

▪  Aberdeen Mayor Erik Larson, who was elected a year ago at age 23 and is the youngest mayor of a sizable city in state history.

▪  Asia Pacific Cultural Center founder Patsy Suhr O’Connell.

Unsoeld made a reputation for championing open government and environmental issues. In 1988, she was the third woman from Washington to be elected to Congress.

Unsoeld became interested in politics in 1970, when her husband, mountaineer Willie Unsoeld, joined the faculty at The Evergreen State College. Her curiosity over lobbyist influences led her to write “Who Gave? Who Got? How Much?” She received the James Madison Award from the Washington Coalition for Open Government in 2008.

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