🍎 Whole WA Board Retreat – Recap!

This summary is to catch you up on what went down and what’s ahead. When an organization spans the state like Whole Washington, it’s often hard to meet in person, but a few weeks ago, on Sunday, October 29th, we did it! Board members, long-time volunteers, and campaign leads met in Eatonville for an all-day retreat to ground ourselves and plan for the work ahead.

For the first time, we took a long view in months & years, and made a commitment to a thoughtful, inclusive, and collaborative approach to winning Universal Healthcare. We’ve accomplished a lot, but there’s still so much to do, and we’re determined not to squander the work we’ve done or lose this moment.

What does that mean? It means we’ll continue to direct efforts into strategy teams (Universal Health Care Commission, State Legislature, Ballot Initiative, and Federal Congress), we’ll develop our Board and fundraising efforts, we’ll build bridges with other healthcare groups, and we’ll continue to broaden and strengthen our base via a massive, state-wide townhall endeavor.

So Are We Running an Initiative?

Many of us still feel the burn-out and exhaustion of the petition drive. While interacting directly with our fellow Washingtonians activates our urgency, we fully realize collecting signatures can take a toll. Following three attempts, we’ve learned some lessons. Namely, we can’t be powered by passion alone. We know what’s needed to be successful, and we’re going to define very specific criteria before flipping the switch on an initiative campaign.

Examples of Go / No-Go Criteria

  • Adequate funds
  • Pledged Signatures
  • Trained Volunteers
  • Paid Field Staff
  • Other milestones yet to be named

What’s the Plan and Timeline?

This was a valuable and fruitful exercise. Looking at least two years out, we identified known dates that are meaningful to progress, like UHCC reports, legislative session dates, Pride events, etc. so we can begin the critical work of determining our priorities. Two dates stood out:

  • The UHCC analysis of the Washington Health Trust due by 6/2024 and
  • the annual UHCC report due by 11/2024

This makes the culmination of years of study available just before the 2025 legislation session.

Consequently, 2025 could make for the most vital legislative session in the state’s history for the healthcare justice movement, but it will require relentless pressure and engagement. We’ll need to find and grow universal healthcare champions in our legislature–not just sponsors and co-sponsors, but champions. To that end, we officially encourage the formation of a Universal Health Care Caucus (If anyone has any background in this, we’d love to hear from you.)

To fire up the ground game, we’ll be taking town halls on the road all over the state. This will take significant prep work! So if you’re into logistics, event planning, public speaking, facilitating or tabling, please get in touch with us. Either fill out the Volunteer Form or send a quick email to [email protected].

Thoughts from the Retreat Attendees

After we’d had time to think about our immersive planning experience, we gathered our thoughts to share with you:

Pam Ketzner: I was so grateful to be surrounded by others who want the same as I do, Healthcare for everyone. I listened with both my heart and my ears. I heard the love, concern and hope to get this accomplished here in our beautiful state. I am so grateful for all these new people in my life.

Carey Wallace: I’m so excited about how well the retreat went. The chance to meet in person and work collaboratively planning for the next few weeks/months/years was so worthwhile. I also really appreciate the willingness to step into conversations about Medicare for all as anti-racist policy and how the Washington Health Trust can remove the tiered insurance scam that has been actively contributing to all kinds of oppression for decades.

Lisa Gaynor: I was especially happy to see the compassion, real ideas, and specific work set to go forward with the next round of work. The specific committees were hard at work with plans. The energy was so good and we were very empowered to keep moving and pushing forward.

Jason Call: In-person meetings have the capacity to build community and solidarity in a way online meetings can’t. Our board retreat was deliberative and productive, and I’m looking forward to engaging with the multiple opportunities we have in front of us to pass universal healthcare in Washington State.

Christa Erwin: Great presentations on racism and healthcare, great getting to know each other conversation, and great planning meetings. Not much stress and the pizza was good. I would love to do it again in 6 months!

Kathryn Lewandowsky: So excited to be working with such dedicated Health Justice advocates! We can do this! With a little help from our friends!

Jen Nye:  The retreat was a valuable experience in seeing that passing universal healthcare could take shape in different ways. Collaboration and expansion will be huge no matter what. We have a verifiably racist and harmful system that has to be repaired, but I believe can get this done.

Lana Bostic: There was so much passion and positive energy and good work.  We are on the path to getting Universal Healthcare in Washington.

Elizabeth Reisner: I was especially grateful for the time spent on committing to anti-racism as a key pillar of WW universal healthcare policy. Learning about the history of activists who have been fighting for healthcare equality for generations makes this work even more meaningful to me. When the group collaboratively developed a timeline and strategic vision with clear milestones, it helped me feel energized to keep volunteering. I was inspired to continue to find ways to help move this work forward.

Raleigh Watts: Being in the room with brilliant and passionate advocates gave me hope that someday soon Washington State residents will benefit from universal health care.

Please note our Executive Director Andre Stackhouse is traveling out of the country but we’ll get him to weigh in upon his return.

Update from Board Chair – Carey Wallace

It is my privilege to use this space in our newsletter to honor and pay a small tribute to the life and work of Ady Barkan who sadly passed away November 1, 2023 from complications of ALS.

Ady Barkan, an activist and attorney known for his advocacy on healthcare reform and disability rights, was an inspiration to so many of us involved in this movement, in this moment. This loss will be felt by so many – from those closest to him to those who are just learning of him as the news of his death makes headlines.

I ask you to take a moment today to remember Ady, to mourn the incredible loss, and then to recommit to this cause.


“To honor his life, let us dedicate ourselves to completing his work”

-Senator Bernie Sanders

Upcoming Events

See the Calendar for times/details/links

Volunteer Meeting – Mon 12/4

Fundraising Meetings – Wed 11/22, 12/6, 12/20

State-Based Universal Health Care (HR 6270) Webinar – 11/17

Commission Team Meeting – Wed 12/6

UHCC Meeting Thurs 12/14

Save the Date! Whole Washington will be hosting an online showing of the documentary film Speaking of Slay the Dragon🍿 Sunday, January 21st, 2024 🍿– more details to come.

Whole Washington has also submitted a request to show Not Going Quietly in December in honor of Ady Barkan – we’ll keep you posted as a date and time become available.

Thanks for reading this long update, and thank you for staying involved! Now, we want to ask if you’ll consider a recurring donation. Especially if you’re unable to contribute time or if you simply want to help create a steady stream of support for this long-haul effort, we would be very grateful for a recurring donation. $5 a month, $10 or $20 a month, goes a long way!

Donate Today Button

And as always, we’d love to hear from you.

Whole Washington

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