About Pramila

Pramila came to the United States when she was 16-years-old by herself. Using their savings, her parents sent her to this country from her birth country of India. Pramila attended college at Georgetown University and went on to earn her MBA at Northwestern University. She worked as a Wall Street financial analyst after college, but she began looking for a way to apply her skills to advance social justice and after other private sector work, she began working at Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) in 1991. Pramila became the director of the Fund for Technology Transfer, a multi-million dollar fund that provided capital for socially responsible health projects in countries across Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Later, Pramila was named a Institute of Current World Affairs Fellow, and she lived for two years in villages and small towns across India. 

ORGANIZER

FOUNDED ONEAMERICA (FORMERLY HATE FREE ZONE)

In 2001, in response to hate crimes and discrimination targeting the Arab, Muslim, and South Asian communities following the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks, Pramila founded Hate Free Zone, which later became OneAmerica and was dedicated to organizing and advocating for many diverse communities of color. OneAmerica is now the largest immigrant rights advocacy group in the state. 

SUCCESSFULLY SUED THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION OVER SOMALI DEPORTATIONS

In 2003, Pramila, as Director Of Hate Free Zone, organized the pro bono legal effort that won a ruling that declared the Bush Administration’s deportations of Somali immigrants were illegal. The ruling, which stemmed from a case in Seattle on behalf of four Somali men slated for immediate deportation, blocked the deportation of more than 2,700 people nationwide. 

TRAINED 12,000 STUDENTS AND 1,000 TEACHERS

With OneAmerica, Pramila helped design and lead the Youth Program, which trained high school students across the Puget Sound Region to engage with political leaders to advance their values of democracy and justice. Youth leaders attended Immigrants’ Day at the State Capital, advocated on behalf of the DREAM Act at the Federal Way School Board Meeting, and gave testimony during the redistricting process in 2011.

HELPED REGISTER 23,000 VOTERS

Pramila led the largest voter registration drive in Washington State history in 2008. Working with OneAmerica (formerly called Hate Free Zone) across Seattle and the Puget Sound region, OneAmerica registered over 23,000 new and young Americans to vote. 

ESTABLISHED THE WASHINGTON NEW AMERICANS INITIATIVE AND THE CITY OF SEATTLE’S OFFICE OF IMMIGRANT & REFUGEE AFFAIRS

Pramila helped establish the Governor’s New Americans Policy Council in 2008. Viewing immigrants as contributors to public life in Washington State, lawmakers and activists collaborated to create the Council in order to develop strategies to better provide services such as career-reentry and language accessibility to immigrant communities across the state.

Pramila also helped create the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs and served on the Mayor’s Committee to appoint its first Director. The Office serves Seattle’s immigrant and refugee communities by streamlining access to services, encouraging immigrant communities to participate in city life, and receiving the input and contributions of immigrant communities.

SERVED ON THE 2007 POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY REVIEW PANEL

Pramila served as a member of the 2007 Police Accountability Review Panel that implemented police oversight in Seattle. The Committee conducted a comprehensive review of Seattle’s police accountability system and proposed additional measures to encourage a more effective citizen-complaint process.

In 2012, Pramila called for continued reform of the Seattle Police Department upon findings of officers’ excessive use of force. She called for an independent monitor to oversee the implementation of the proposed plan to reform the Seattle Police Department.

IMMIGRANT’S RIGHTS ARE WOMEN’S RIGHTS: CONNECTING GENDER & IMMIGRATION REFORM

Pramila launched the organization, We Belong Together, to forge a partnership between the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. With We Belong Together, Pramila introduced a gender lens to the immigrants’ rights movement. The organization led a lobbying initiative in Washington D.C. that brought together women’s rights organizers to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. Pramila helped coordinate national groups such as the National Organization for Women, the Y.W.C.A. of the USA, and the National Council of Jewish Women to sign an open letter to women in the Senate to urge them to vote for immigration reform.

SUCCESSFULLY HELPED PUSH COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM THROUGH THE U.S. SENATE

In 2010, Pramila worked with members of the U.S. Senate to craft legislation on comprehensive immigration reform. She helped write pieces of the immigration bill that passed the Senate with 67 votes. The bill aimed to fix the broken immigration system by creating a pathway to citizenship for more than 12 million undocumented immigrants.

 

STATE SENATOR

WON $5.25 MILLION FOR PRE-APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS

During Pramila’s first year as a State Senator, she fought to secure funding for pre-apprenticeship programs to ensure that women and people of color have access to well-paying union jobs. Pramila was the sponsor and chief architect of the legislation that required the Department of Transportation to allot funding for pre-apprenticeship programs and recruit women and people of color to participate. Governor Jay Inslee signed the bill into law during the 2015-2016 legislative session.

FOUGHT FOR MEDICAID REIMBURSEMENTS FOR CONTRACEPTION FOR LOW-INCOME WOMEN

Pramila stood up for women’s health equity by working to ensure that Medicaid recipients have access to reproductive health care. Pramila was the primary sponsor of SB 5806, which safeguarded contraceptive coverage for women on Medicaid. Pramila fought for women’s right to choose what form of contraception makes the most sense for their medical needs, regardless of their income. After the bill stalled in the Republican controlled State Senate, Pramila worked with the Governor and Planned Parenthood NW to ensure this was included in the budget.

PUSHED FOR LANGUAGE ACCESS FOR STUDENTS & PARENTS

Pramila worked to foster an equitable educational system that reflects the multilingual communities in Washington State. She served on the Equity and Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee, where she led critical conversations about equity in education policies. Pramila was the primary sponsor of SB 5787 and asked for model policy to be crafted and procedures for language access by limited-English proficient parents. When the bill stalled, Pramila worked with budget writers to turn the entire bill into a proviso in the budget so that it would still move forward and model policies in school districts would be created for interpretation and translation to limited English proficient parents.

FOUGHT AGAINST A BILL EXPANDING PAYDAY LENDING

Pramila took on Payday Lenders' attempt to profit off of working families and low-income people. Pramila introduced dozens of amendments to stifle legislation that imposed repayment plans and additional fees that would make consumers more vulnerable and place them in a deeper cycle of debt. 

PUSHED TO MAKE THE RAPE KIT PROCESS MORE EFFICIENT

Pramila served on a bi-partisan committee established by Legislative Intent to look at the issue of untested rape kits in the state.  Out of that committee, several pieces of bi-partisan legislation were agreed to for sponsorship in the legislature.  Pramila contributed to Rep. Tina Orwall’s legislation that paved the way to justice for Washingtonians to set a national example of what services should be available to survivors of rape and sexual assault including the testing of untested rape kits, and then worked to help pass the bill in the Senate. Pramila maintained the importance of giving survivors more security and control: “By empowering survivors to keep track of the progress of their kit, some of that sense of control can hopefully be regained, and ultimately ensure justice is served.”

CHAMPIONED LEGISLATION INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE

Pramila was part of a very small group of advisers who met with the Ed Murray mayoral campaign beginning in August 2013 to put together an economic-issues agenda, including a commitment to phasing in a $15 minimum wage. This was before Murray was elected and before the Income Inequality Advisory Committee was even established. Mayor Murray then appointed Pramila to serve on the Committee that developed the successful proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15. Pramila helped form a strong and diverse coalition by organizing immigrants in Seattle to support the measure. 

On Pramila’s third day in the State Senate, Pramila introduced legislation to raise the minimum wage in Washington State. Pramila was the primary sponsor of SB 5285, which would increase the state minimum hourly wage to $12 over four years. This legislation laid the groundwork for a broad coalition to push for a state initiative on raising the minimum wage, now called Initative 1433.

COMMUNITY COLLEGES

Pramila was the chief proponent of legislation to provide tuition-free community college for Washington residents without a bachelor’s degree, because she knows that a high school diploma, while foundational for every student, is not enough to equip many young people to navigate today’s economy. Answering President Obama’s call to expand educational opportunity, Pramila designed legislation that would make Washington students eligible to receive aid to attend community and technical colleges if they maintain a 2.0 GPA.

RENAMING RACIST PLACE-NAMES

Pramila worked with the Department of Natural Resources to create a system to review racially offensive place-names across Washington State. Pramila used renaming as a way to celebrate the people and cultures of Washington and remove racial epithets from the official map and everyday conversation. The first set of 36 names are set to be renamed by the end of 2016.

Racist names to be scrubbed from Washington maps, Crosscut: http://crosscut.com/2016/03/breaking-racist-names-to-be-scrubbed-from-washington-maps/

AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION

Pramila worked alongside Republican Secretary Of State Kim Wyman to push for legislation that automatically register eligible voters who have an enhanced driver’s license, commercial driver’s license or apply for benefits for certain programs through the Department of Social and Health Services or the state Health Benefits Exchange. Participation in these programs already requires citizenship verification. State and federal law restrict voting to citizens, 18 and older. Pramila also proposed using the state health benefits exchange system to identify potentially eligible voters with proof of citizenship. The Yakima Herald-Republic reported Pramila’s bipartisan leadership as a sign that “legislators have stepped toward mending … relationship[s]” across the aisle in Olympia.

LED NEGOTIATIONS ON THE WASHINGTON VOTING RIGHTS ACT

While at OneAmerica, Pramila worked to help craft the first version of the Washington Voting Rights Act. When Pramila joined the Senate, the bill had stalled for several years in the Legislature. Pramila led negotiations in the State Senate to come closer to agreement than ever before on all but one provision. In the end, Pramila and the coalition of advocates stood firm on ensuring provisions that would guarantee “teeth” in the bill around a right for State Courts to have the authority to review boundaries of proposed districts to protect fair representation for minorities and prevent gerrymandering.

ADDED A $205K BUDGET INSERT FOR RAINIER BEACH’S INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE PROGRAM

Pramila wrote a state-budget insert that provided a $205,000 grant for high schools with an IB (International Baccalaureate) Programs with 70 percent of their student population comprising of low-income students. Rainier Beach High School in Seattle and Davis High School in Yakima are eligible for funding. Seattle is the only large school district in the Pacific Northwest that offers an IB program but does not offer district funds. 

INVESTING IN MULTIMODAL TRANSPORTATION

Pramila helped secure investments for electric vehicle infrastructure during her service on the Transportation Committee. Pramila co-sponsored SB 5444, a bill that would allot a portion of sales tax generated from car purchases to an infrastructure bank to build charging stations along highways across the state.

NAMED "CHILDREN’S ALLIANCE CHAMPION" FOR STATE SENATE WORK

Pramila was named a Children’s Alliance Champion in the State Senate for her efforts to pass the Early Start Act. SB 5452, later signed into law by the Governor, provided $158 million for early childhood education in Washington State and helps parents find high-quality care and prepare their children for kindergarten

FINDING SOLUTIONS TO KEEP SOCIAL SECURITY SOLVENT

Pramila supported funding for a study to examine long-term care solutions for Washington’s growing senior population. Pramila worked with her colleagues in the State Senate to identify long-term solutions for care for seniors in Washington State.

SE SEATTLE OPPORTUNITY CENTER

Pramila helped fund a new Southeast Economic Opportunity Center. With limited access for many in the community to educational and job opportunities, individuals and organizations from the community came together to advocate for a new vision: a center in the middle of the Rainier Valley that would be a hub for a vibrant education campus, small business development center and commercial space, a central location and affordable rent for multicultural service organizations, and workforce housing, along with services from the State, County and City. Pramila pushed for $1.5 million of funding in this year’s capital budget to support the center, which was matched by almost $1.9 million in City of Seattle funding.

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