Find Posts By Topic

HSD Employee Spotlight—Edwin Obras

Selfie image of Edwin Obras with a bridge over a river and and buildings in the distance in Florence, Italy.

What is your role at Seattle Human Services?

I have worked in the department for 15 years. In my current position, I serve as a strategic advisor, providing budget and policy expertise in order to reach our divisional goals which ultimately serve the community.

What made you want to work in human services?

I have worked in the human services field since graduating from college many years ago. I have a deep passion for working with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities and ensuring they have the tools to gain access to resources to attain equity for their community. This passion came from growing up in an immigrant household and experiencing the many facets and difficulties of navigating spaces and not understanding how institutional racism was so prevalent until later in life.

Selfie of Edwin Obras with clouds, distant landscape, and Mount Rainier in the background during a hike.

How has your job changed in recent years?

The Safe and Thriving Communities (STC) division is my third division in the department which I joined when the division was created 1.5 years ago. I have gone from supervising a large contract team in my last position to not supervising anyone in my new role as a strategic advisor. A huge change!

In this position I now have a much broader view of the issues and understand intersecting bodies of work, not just in STC and one division but across the department and even the City.

What do you love about your job?

I focus on our investments in the community and in ensuring that they have direct impacts on the lives of the people of Seattle. It’s fulfilling hearing directly from providers about their work and the transformational changes to community as a result of funding by the City of Seattle.

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

Edwin Obras dressed up in a formal suit and speaking at a podium with a sign that says Filipino Community of Seattle

I am deeply involved in community and bring a racial equity lens when trying to dismantle systemic racism. I have served on a board for a BIPOC-led community-based organization for several years helping to develop a strategic plan that ensures inclusion and working across all communities toward access. Today the organization’s participants are a true reflection of the community offering a broad range of services.

What motivates you or keeps you going?

My relationships inside and out of the City and knowing we are in this work together.

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

Lean in, ask a lot of questions, and take opportunities to grow and learn new areas you are unfamiliar with. Your curiosity is the backbone for learning and growth.