Pramila Jayapal is a Washington State Senator representing the 37th Legislative District, one of the most racially and economically diverse districts in the areas in the country. Her campaign for State Senator was historic for the sheer scope of community outreach that engaged thousands of new voters and got hundreds of volunteers involved.
Pramila has spent the last twenty years working both internationally and domestically as a leading national advocate for women’s, immigrant’s, civil, and human rights. She led one of the largest voter registration efforts in Washington State, helping over 23,000 new Americans to register to vote. In May 2013, Pramila was recognized as a White House “Champion of Change.”
In response to hate crimes and discrimination targeting the Arab, Muslim, and South Asian communities following the tragic September 11 terrorist attacks, Jayapal founded Hate Free Zone, which later became OneAmerica and was dedicated to organizing and advocating for many diverse communities of color. Under her leadership, OneAmerica grew from a one-person volunteer operation in 2001 to the largest immigrant and refugee advocacy organization in Washington State ten years later, advocating for local, state, and federal policies that make for stronger communities, including the Dream Act, and helping thousands of immigrants become active and engaged American citizens.
Pramila has helped lead the national fight for comprehensive immigration reform and due process, as co-founder of We Belong Together – a campaign to mobilize women in support of common sense immigration policies that keep families together and empower women, serving as Vice Chair of the Rights Working Group national coalition, on the Executive Committee of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, and helping launch the National Partnership for New Americans, comprised of the country's 37 largest regional immigrant rights organizations in 31 states.
In the state legislature, Pramila has been a champion for access to healthcare, and commonsense gun safety and civic engagement as well as for women, workers, students, communities of color, low-income communities, immigrants and refugees.
Pramila has been sought out by local and national media as an expert on topics including economic justice and the minimum wage, community-police relations, as well as immigrant, civil, and human rights. She is often a guest on both NPR public affairs and conservative talk radio programs in Washington State and has interviewed with both conservative and liberal pundits on national television and addressing the Washington, D.C. press corps. Pramila is the author of a memoir, Pilgrimage to India: A Woman Revisits Her Homeland, as well as numerous essays, articles, and guest editorials, including many co-authored with national leaders, such as Gloria Steinem.
Pramila came to the U.S. as a young immigrant. Born in India, Pramila came to the U.S. by herself when she was sixteen to attend Georgetown University. She worked on Wall Street as a financial analyst and went on to earn a Master of Business Administration from Northwestern University. After working in the medical equipment industry for a year, she found her passion in the social justice arena.
Pramila lives in Seattle with her husband Steve Williamson, an Officer and Director of UFCW 21, and their dog Otis, while their son Janak visits home when he is on break from Wesleyan University.