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Holly Cousens

Cousens selected to serve Association of Washington Cities

Business Technology Instructor and Yakima City Councilmember Holly Cousens was recently selected to serve on the Association of Washington Cities (AWC) Board. Cousens represents the eastern part of Washington State and serves on behalf of several cities and towns.

A passionate educator, Cousens was drawn to this role as a way to continue helping educate and serve her community and state.

“Education is truly at the core of who I am,” said Cousens. “AWC not only helps elected officials connect to legislators and organizations, but they hold seminars and educate on topics that affect us all. I know firsthand how it feels to be newly elected, having the responsibility of the entire city coupled with the frustration of how to best serve our community.

“AWC was the tool I needed to overcome that frustration. They give newly elected officials training and help them build a road map to success. Being part of the solution has always been inside me. AWC helped me in my success, and as a seasoned council member, I want to help give that to others.”

The role of an AWC board member is to oversee the discharge of the general responsibilities of AWC, including adoption of the legislative priorities, annual budget, review and direction of member programs, adoption and monitoring execution of the AWC strategic plan, and providing direction regarding other policy issues.

As a board member, Cousens will have the opportunity to voice Yakima’s needs before state legislators, the state executive branch and regulatory agencies. It will also give her a larger platform to share the needs of Yakima Valley College.

Cousens is excited about the opportunity to bring her experience from serving on the board into the classroom.

“My experiences on council have already brought so much to the classroom and our students,” said Cousens. “I am able to share their concerns with our governing body as well as encourage our students to get involved in the community. After being elected in 2015, I have had many experiences which I have been able to share with our students.”

Among the powerful experiences Cousens has  used to motivate YVC students to continue to pursue their own dreams are peaking on stage with President Obama and being invited to South Korea where she set up a sister city relationship between Hadong and Yakima.

“I attended their green tea festival, which is known across the world,” Cousens said. “I sat at a head table full of men in black suits from all over the world, Japan’s ambassador was to my right and China’s was on my left. When the announcer got to me, he stated, ‘And representing the United States of America, from Yakima, Washington, is Holly Cousens, the first female to ever sit at this table.’ It was a moment I will never forget!

“I tell my students to never stop reaching for what they want in life. I share my story and encourage them to stand up and lead, that we all a fire in us sometimes we just need someone to help us light it.”

Her term on the AWC Board runs through 2024.