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Tough & Tenacious

A career of tackling big problems

Jessyn Farrell is a progressive who gets things done. A former legislator, working mom, and leader of the state’s COVID economic recovery task force, she has spent her career tackling big problems.

Jessyn is tough and tenacious. Jessyn was born with a hole in her heart the size of a quarter, struggling to breathe, run and play. At age 7 she got life-saving open-heart surgery at Seattle Children’s Hospital, but those physical struggles imprinted upon Jessyn a deep understanding of both what it’s like to be left behind and what it’s like to have help and support. Later in her life, she was one of a handful of women to give birth while being a representative in the state legislature, and now raising her three kids as a single mom.

Jessyn helps small businesses. As a widely-respected policy advocate on housing affordability, child care, tax reform, and economic security, she was selected by Gov. Inslee to lead Washington’s COVID economy recovery task force, helping small businesses and working families during the coronavirus pandemic. She helped create the $50 million Washington Recovery Fund to get economic aid to small businesses, focusing primarily on Black, Indigenous and people of color owned small businesses.

Jessyn fights for workers and jobs. While in the legislature, Jessyn championed living wages, the rights of workers, and mass transit. She sponsored legislation to increase Washington’s minimum wage and to establish universal portable benefits. She was a lead negotiator on Washington’s landmark Paid Family and Medical Leave law that gives working parents and caregivers the flexibility to do their jobs and care for a loved one.

Jessyn works for families. As one of the only women to ever give birth while serving in the state legislature, Jessyn is no stranger to the hardships working moms face. With the added pressures of the pandemic driving women out of the workforce in droves, Jessyn knows the policies she’s fought for that support working moms are more important than ever. As a state legislator, Jessyn passed laws to protect pregnant women at work, made childcare more affordable and expanded paid family and medical leave. She also fought for $500 million in education funding for low-income and homeless youth.

Jessyn has bettered the environment and helped our communities thrive. As Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition and as a legislator, Jessyn successfully led advocacy that has resulted in $80 billion of new investments in light rail, buses, walking and biking infrastructure. She’s also created groundbreaking affordable housing policies that now needs to be expanded to make Seattle a more affordable place to live.

Jessyn knows the status quo isn’t good enough. Jessyn’s passion for advocacy came from a childhood steeped in the environmental movement in Seattle in the 1970’s and 1980’s: she was born and raised in Lake Forest Park and the Lake City neighborhood, fostering a love for Washington’s unique outdoors that spurred her to start her career in environmental and transit policy. After graduating from the University of Washington where she led the saxophone section in the UW Husky Marching Band, she worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer and site coordinator for the Youth Tutoring Program at Yesler Terrace working with 80 high-risk students in Seattle public housing. With a JD from Boston College Law School, Jessyn has spent the last 20 years in the non-profit, private and public sectors advocating for thriving, equitable communities. Jessyn lives in Northeast Seattle with her three kids, their dog Felix and cat Sylvia Poggioli.