- First openly gay public official in Washington state
- Created one of the nation's first mental health courts
- Leader on Referendum 71, which marked the first time same-sex couples won domestic partnership rights through a popular vote
Anne Levinson has been a dedicated advocate for social justice her entire life. As an undergraduate at KU in the late 1970s, she led the battle for Title IX compliance in the athletics department. Ten years later she became one of Washington’s first openly gay public officials. And as one of the state’s first “out” public officials, Anne has been a leading voice for LGBTQ equality in Washington for many years. In 2009, for instance, her leadership on Referendum 71, which brought domestic partnership rights to same-sex couples, was the first in the nation to be passed by popular vote.
Anne grew up in a home that stressed the idea of tikkun olam—repairing the world—and that idea guided her career. This has included serving as Deputy Mayor of Seattle under Norm Rice; serving as a civilian auditor for the Office of Professional Accountability, an agency that investigates police misconduct; a stint as Chairwoman of the Washington Utilities & Transportation Commission; and a judgeship on Seattle’s municipal court. Anne was also a founding board member of the Seattle Girls’ School and the Center for Children & Youth Justice, and led the successful effort to keep the WNBA Seattle Storm in Seattle, creating and serving as the founding chair of an all-female local ownership group.
When Anne was appointed to the bench as a Seattle Municipal Court judge, she again discovered a need to advocate for fairness. She saw that increasing numbers of individuals with mental illness were ending up in the criminal justice system due to a lack of housing and other services in the community. So she developed one of the country’s first mental health courts, a court designed to divert the mentally ill away from jail and by connecting them to treatment and services. A groundbreaking and at times seemingly impossible endeavor, it succeeded and has served as a model for other communities.
Anne’s work in social justice has inspired many, including her nominator, twelve year old Henson Burk-Fawcett, who told the selection committee that “whenever there is an obstacle, Anne Levinson will find the most direct way to fight through it. I hope to follow in her footsteps.”