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Meet City Year Seattle Executive Director Tarra Mitchell

Tarra Mitchell, long-time education leader in Seattle Public Schools, joined City Year Seattle/King County as our new Executive Director this week. We are thrilled to welcome her aboard! We sat down with Tarra to learn about her own educational experience, what drew her to this leadership role at City Year, and her aspirations for the impact City Year can have in our community.


Real Talk with Tarra Mitchell, City Year Seattle’s new Executive Director

City Year Seattle/King County(CYSKC): How has your educational experience impacted your journey to becoming City Year Seattle’s next Executive Director?

Tarra Mitchell (TM): I have had an unconventional journey in education. My experiences living and working in various capacities around the world have provided me the opportunity to experience many facets of the educational system, and I have learned that changing student experiences in school for our students of color and historically underserved populations requires innovative strategies and a community of support. I believe that City Year has the ability to be a part of this change.

CYSKC: What drew you to City Year and what are you most excited about in your new role at the organization?

TM: What drew me initially to City Year and continues to excite me about being the new Executive Director of City Year Seattle is the potential for reciprocal, multi-generational impact and change.  As our AmeriCorps members serve in communities, students see a vision of a potential future, AmeriCorps members see members of these communities as complete people and families, and then take that knowledge forward to create opportunities for students like those from the communities they served. Corporate and individual donors that may be unconnected to education have the opportunity to learn about the communities around them, and ideally our work at becoming an anti-racist organization has an impact on their organizational culture as well.

CYSKC:  In this moment where students continue to face a global pandemic and challenging learning environment, how do you see City Year making an impact?

TM: The multiple pandemics (health and racial) are affecting everyone in our society.  As we have spent so much time isolated, and often must continue to intermittently isolate, connection is critically important.  I believe City Year is impactful because AmeriCorps members are able to be an additional layer of connection for students as well as instructional support during this challenging time.

CYSKC: Why do you believe so deeply in the experience and impact AmeriCorps members have?

TM: I truly believe that the City Year model of service has the ability to change our world.  Again, it comes down to the reciprocal relationships that can be nurtured through partnership and service. Many of the racist, ableist, sexist, (add any -ist here) things that continue to plague our society are a result of the ability to dehumanize and “other” someone or a group of someones. Regardless of what career field the AmeriCorps members chose to pursue after their year of service, the students and families they get to know will always be real people, and I believe that will carry forward in hiring decisions, leadership decisions, and personal interactions as they move forward in the future. This also holds true for the students they serve.  As near peers, it is easier for students to see potential futures for themselves as they interact with AmeriCorps members over the course of their educational career.

CYSKC: What are some of your aspirations and dreams for City Year’s impact in the Seattle/King County community?

TM: My biggest dream is that more of the students that have been served by City Year Seattle chose to serve as AmeriCorps members in the upcoming years.  I would love for our students to be even more connected to that potential future I mentioned before. I also want us to actualize being an anti-racist organization.  We have a good structure, and I think we are poised to operationalize our desired vision. I am also looking forward to increasing our brand in the community. Our mission and vision is closely aligned with many local companies and organizations, and I believe that if these companies and organizations understood what we do, and what we can do, it would be very impactful on our fundraising efforts.

Want to meet Tarra and learn more about City Year’s work in Seattle’s schools?

Join us for a Virtual School Visit:

Date: Thursday, February 17th

Time: 1:00-2:00pm PT

Location: Zoom

RSVP: Email Aubrey Beals to receive the Zoom link

Learn more about Tarra and City Year Seattle’s impact in schools:

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