ChrisTiana ObeySumner for Seattle City Council District 5
I was born in Alaska in 1986 to a single mother. Growing up, my family faced financial struggles and disability challenges. As a Black, economically disadvantaged, and non-verbal child, I had difficulty attending school, as special education services were not well-established prior to passage of the American Disabilities Act in 1990. Despite testing high, I did not qualify for services, and lacked diagnoses for learning disabilities. My mother and I were often unhoused, moving frequently, and I was often exiled from classes.
After living in several states, I moved to Seattle in 2010 and attended Seattle University. I became involved in social justice advocacy and organized on campus. My advocacy work became personal when my Uncle Wayne went into a nursing rehab facility for disabled individuals who were incarcerated. I advocated for the facility not to take away his wheelchair and dehumanize him, but sadly, my Uncle passed away as a result of gross negligence on the part of the facility.
I would then go on to work in the permanent supportive housing space, where I administered assessments and coordinated services with other providers. However, I saw how the grants received for the work did not match the needs on the ground. This experience led to me realizing that the systems we have in place actually end up perpetuating the disparities we see in action today. This inspired me to become the CEO and principal consultant of Epiphanies of Equity LLC -- A social equity consulting firm that particularly specializes in social change, intersectionality, antiracism, and disability justice.
As a recognized expert in my field, I have served on panels for organizations like the Housing Development Consortium and Seattle Center RSJI; given guest lectures at the University of Washington, Seattle University, and M.I.T.; and have been featured in the Seattle Times, Crosscut, Seattle Arts, Seattle Magazine, and Diverse City LLC’s online learning series.
I am also the former co-chair of the Seattle Disabilities commission, and former co-chair of the Seattle Renter’s commission. I have also previously or currently serve as a member or lay-leader on the following boards: the King County Transit Mobility Council, The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, The Seattle University African American Alumni Association, and the King County Board for Developmental Disabilities Legislative Council.