Community Liaisons – New Name and Bold Vision

Community LiaisonsAs we welcome the new year, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods continues working to strengthen Seattle by engaging all communities. With that said, we have an announcement regarding our Public Outreach and Engagement Liaison (POEL) program.

With much anticipation, we are pleased to reveal our new name: Community Liaisons.

With this name, we signal our bold ambition to organize the most comprehensive engagement model for historically underserved communities in the country and more aptly express our identity as a team—62 community liaisons (and growing) who are passionate about civic leadership and empowering underserved communities.

If you are unfamiliar with Community Liaisons, they are independent contractors who are experts at navigating historically underrepresented communities. Each are fluent in their respective languages and respect their community’s culture. Their work in equitable outreach and engagement is conducted in a culturally-specific manner providing community members some familiarity and trust while navigating the City’s processes.

In building this comprehensive engagement model, we launched Community Conversations, an innovative model that brings City resources directly to where underserved communities are already congregating instead of asking folks to come to us. With the assistance of Community Liaisons and our community-based partners, we engage in conversations in-language about issues of importance to them, such as housing and transportation. In 2016 alone, we reached over 2,000 people in 16 languages—60 percent of whom had never interacted with City government before! A big heartfelt thank you to our community partners; we could not have done this without you!

Additionally, we have developed specialized engagement for underserved businesses, piloted a liaison model tailored to a specific neighborhood, and developed a team of liaisons devoted to Seattle Public Utilities Department.

Public Outreach and Engagement LiaisonIn 2016 we tripled the number of City projects and more than doubled our recruitment of liaisons—adding a suite of new languages and affiliations. To date, we have liaisons for African-American, Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese), Ethiopian (Amharic, Oromo), Eritrean (Tigrinya), Filipino (Tagalog, Ilocano), French, Cambodian (Khmer), Korean, Japanese, Native American, Senior, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Youth communities and just recruited liaisons for Bhutanese, Burmese, Congolese (French), Chichewa, Farsi, Gujarati, Harari, Hindi, Iraqi (Arabic), Nepali, PLWD – Blind and Autism,  Punjabi, Polish, Russian, Sikh, Swahili, Ukrainian, Urdu, and Thai communities.

And we are still recruiting for more!

We are seeking liaisons for American Sign Language, Cham, Hmong, Homeless, Laotian, LGBTQ, Mien, Tagalog-Filipino, and Toisanese communities. We need your help. If you know of anyone, please reach out to DON_Liaison@seattle.gov.

Learn more about Community Liaisons at http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/community-liaisons.