Sändra Washington

Sändra Washington by Erica Thompson

“I’ve been in public service for most of my professional life, and the only way I know to build trust with the public is to be authentic,” says Sändra Washington, who, as a member of the Lincoln City Council, is the first out Black woman elected in the state of Nebraska. “Being myself gave me a foundation on which to build honest relationships with conservation partners, coworkers, and now with constituents. Even though I’ve been out for over 40 years, it still feels like I’m frequently in situations where I need to come out again, but I do so now from a more confident place than I did in my 20s and 30s. Being out has given me practice in truth-telling, and I think it’s made me a more compassionately honest public servant.” Originally appointed to the council to fill a vacancy in 2019, she easily won re-election earlier this year as the top vote-getter for one of three vacant seats. Her focus on the council has been to address concerns such as affordable housing, climate resiliency, and pandemic response. Among her accomplishments, she worked with her colleagues to pass a ban on conversion therapy for minors, developed a community platform to talk about race and equity, revised the community police advisory board for greater transparency, and increased funding for emergency mental health response. The most rewarding part of her work is community-building, “whether it’s helping to build stronger neighborhoods, tackling policies to ensure our city is welcoming to all, improving government transparency, building a more robust emergency mental health system or adding to our terrific system of local parks and trails. If I can assist in bringing groups of people together to creatively solve problems that improve the lives of our residents,” she says, “then I’ve had a good day.” —RK

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