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HSD Employee Spotlight—Natalie Thomson

Photo of Natalie with her husband and daughter
Jocelyn (Jocie), Scott, and Natalie Thomson

What is your role at Seattle Human Services?

As a Planning Manager in the Youth and Family Empowerment Division of Seattle Human Services, I’m responsible for the investment of millions of dollars in food banks, meals, child nutrition, farm to table-nutrition education, Fresh Bucks To Go, community connectors, and the innovation fund.  My priorities are deeply rooted in food justice. I envision a city where all people have equitable, self-determined access to fresh and nutritious food.

How has your job changed in recent years?

Though it seems like forever, I have been at HSD a total of 14 years in two separate stints. Fun fact: I have had 12 positions within HSD. This makes me laugh. I started out as a temporary Administrative Support Assistant, and have worked my way up in grants and contracts before moving over into planning.

The pandemic changed the way we interact with each other. We now do much more virtually. With that, we have the opportunity to be much more intentional in all our interactions, virtual and in-person.

What do you love about your job?

I love the people at HSD. As a community, we are passionate and believe in the vision that ALL communities thrive. I’ve made many friends here, and I believe them to be lifelong friendships. I love the work. My mother taught me that it is an honor and a deep responsibility to be a public steward. I treat that with reverence.

How do you contribute to HSD’s overarching goals related to racial equity?

Natalie poses with former HSD Director Jason Johnson and her 2019 HSD MAX Award for Racial Equity
Natalie received a 2019 MAX Award from her HSD colleagues honoring her racial equity work.

I believe that racial equity and undoing institutional racism start with love and trust. You must consciously and continuously build relationships based on love and trust with those you are organizing alongside. Then, you remember we are all human and that we will make mistakes when we do hard things. So, when I do inevitably make mistakes, I hope I own up, minimize harm, and move on. That’s how I believe we keep the humanity in Race and Social Justice.

What motivates you or keeps you going?

I see the new generation of leaders and I am so hopeful! They motivate me. Our community who shows up again and again motivates me. And there is much to do. That motivates me, too.

What’s one piece of advice for HSD newcomers or recent graduates in your field?

Build relationships. Invest time and energy into people. Learn about them. I try to mentor, train, and support individuals in the planning unit whenever I can. I encourage them to develop critical thinking and organizational skills, and offer my knowledge and experience where it might help move our work forward. This allows you to exercise that muscle that builds compassion and courage and take right action. This will motivate you to build skills, too.

Smiling group photo
At a recent employee baby shower for Pamela and Raj Maskara. Front (l-r): Raj Maskara, Angela Miyamoto, Pamela Maskara, Natalie Thomson. Back (l-r): Ann-Margaret Webb, Tan Mei Teo, Stephen Song