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Black History Month Spotlight: A Conversation with Partnership Analyst Elise Washington

Black History Month Spotlight: A Conversation with Partnership Analyst Elise Washington
  • Donovan Gomez

Celebrating Black History Month

February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the many contributions and accomplishments of the Black community. This month provides an opportunity to acknowledge the impact of Black leaders, reflect on the challenges faced by the community, and celebrate the resilience and achievements that have shaped our collective history.

As a Partnership Analyst at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), Elise Washington manages day-to-day relations with SFPUC community partners, internal departments, and tenants in support of the Southeast Community Center. Her role sits at the intersection of communications, operations, partnership management, and special projects. 

When she is not managing relationships on behalf of the SFPUC, she serves as a Well-Being @ Work Champion, alongside an incredible group of employees. Well-being @ Work Champions foster a culture of health and wellness across various work sites through communications, events, and workshops.     

Elise shared the importance of celebrating and honoring Black History Month.

Black History Month Spotlight: A Conversation with Partnership Analyst Elise Washington

Question: What does Black History Month mean to you?
Answer: To me, Black History Month is one of many festive times throughout the year to celebrate and uplift Black history and culture. As a kid growing up in Southern California, Black History Month was a celebratory time, sort of like a second Christmas (without the gifts). My family and I attended community events, like the annual Black History Month parade, cookouts at the park, and other communal festivities. 

As an adult, Black History Month is still a celebratory time. One of my all-time favorite ways to celebrate is at the Black Joy parade in Oakland. The Black Joy parade is a beautiful activation and cultural event featuring performances, a pop-up healing village, games and grooves, and top tier seasoned food.

Question: What are you most proud of about your culture?
Answer: I am most proud of the spectrum of diversity and expression of Black culture across the world. From Africa to South America, the Caribbean, North America, and other pockets of the world, Black culture has a myriad of expressions. Through travel, I’ve expanded my awareness of Black culture outside of the Western world.  

Travel is one of my greatest teachers. I’ve learned there is more than one way to celebrate Black culture. In fact, Black culture is so wide and vast, to define it is to put a cap or limit on it. Black culture is vibrant and renews itself each day.

Question: What advice would you give to young students looking to start a career in City Government?
Answer: I would advise early career professionals with an interest in city government, to research City departments and learn about their function. Then, they should identify a list of departments that tackle problems they are most passionate about and find ways to get involved. This can include attending Board of Supervisor and Commission meetings. I also recommend attending events to network with City staff, especially those who are early in their career.