This evening, at our eleventh Spring Fundraising Gala in Renton, we inducted our fifth Lynn Allen Award Honoree: El Centro de la Raza’s Estela Ortega.
Named for our late sister Lynn Allen, a founding boardmember of the Northwest Progressive Institute, these awards recognize people who have made indispensable contributions to progressive causes for a decade or more.
We lost Lynn to ovarian cancer in 2011, but her spirit has remained with us. (And so have her published works, preserved by NPI at Rebuilding Democracy.)
Lynn emphatically believed in the important work of organizing rural communities and acting on issues of concern to people living far away from our big cities and urban areas. She preached and practiced the politics of inclusion.
As communications director of the Institute for Washington’s Future, she traveled regularly to Washington’s rural counties and small towns, championing sustainable business and agricultural practices.
A skilled facilitator and gifted listener, Lynn understood the importance of and need for effective activism. Not a day goes by when we don’t miss her.
We established the Lynn Allen Awards as part of our continuing effort to ensure that Lynn’s good works will be remembered and her legacy appreciated.
Each year, we honor two outstanding individuals with a Lynn Allen Award.
In 2017, we presented the very first Lynn Allen Awards to Joni Earl and Paul Lawrence. Last year, Major General Paul Eaton (Retired) and Alex Hendrickson became our third and fourth honorees. Tonight, Estela Ortega joined their ranks.
Estela’s award commendation is as follows:
Building community has been the cause of Estela Ortega’s life. In her early twenties, she made a conscious decision to become an organizer for social justice with her husband and legendary advocate Roberto Maestas. For over four decades, she has worked to take care of the beloved community through El Centro de la Raza (The Center For People Of All Races), a community action agency based in Beacon Hill. Under Estela’s leadership, El Centro has championed transit oriented development, building over one hundred homes for people with limited means next to its historic building on Sixteenth Avenue South in Seattle. Estela’s contributions to causes like education, affordable housing, youth engagement, and public health have enriched our region and shown what can be accomplished with visionary leadership and perseverance.
Estela’s other honors include:
- Latina Symposium’s Manos Unidas Award (2019)
- Seattle Seahawks’ Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award (2018)
- NEA’s George I. Sanchez Memorial Award (2016)
Congratulations, Estela, and thank you for your tremendous service to our movement. Your contributions truly have been indispensable.