Washington State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos '85 was the 2017 recipient of The Evergreen State College’s Joseph Albert Dear Distinguished Alumni Award. Rep. Santos has dedicated her career to the advancement of civil rights, women’s rights, economic justice, environmental justice and affordable housing.
Santos was elected to the Washington State House of Representatives in 1998. She serves the state’s 37th legislative district, which includes Renton and South Seattle. She chairs the House Education Committee and sits on both the Business and Financial Services Committee and the Technology and Economic Development Committee. She also serves appointments to the Washington State Education Opportunity Gap Accountability and Oversight Committee, the Every Student Succeeds Act Consolidated Plan Team, and the Financial Education Public Private Partnership.
The Joseph Albert Dear Distinguished Alumni Award is named for Joseph Dear '77, an Evergreen graduate who died after a long battle with prostate cancer in 2014. An accomplished public servant, Dear was noted for restoring to solvency the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the nation’s largest public pension fund, in the wake of the global financial crisis. Dear also headed the Washington State Investment Board and Department of Labor and Industries, led the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration under President Clinton, served as chief of staff to Washington Governor Gary Locke, and served on The Evergreen State College Foundation’s board of governors.
At the Return to Evergreen brunch on November 4, Rep. Santos paid homage to Dear and thanked Evergreen for providing her with the tools necessary for her to thrive in life.
“This award is not just a tribute to the man that Joseph Dear is,” She said. “But it’s also a tribute to Evergreen and how Evergreen really prepares people for life beyond these campus borders.”
She went on to describe what makes Evergreen’s educational model and community unique.
“Evergreen equips people to be critical thinkers, to be effective communicators, to be reflective and to synthesize diverse perspectives, to be able to apply knowledge and transfer knowledge to a variety of settings,” Rep. Santos said. “And most of all to be agents of your own self-determination.”
Santos has previously received a number of awards for her legislative and community service, including the Kip Tokuda Award from the Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Foundation and the Leadership and Vision Award from Junior Achievement of Washington.
Photo: Rep. Santos with Evergreen President George Bridges at the Return to Evergreen brunch on November 4. (Photo: Evergreen/Shauna Bittle)