Courtney Wooten

Courtney Wooten

A ‘mother interested in helping kids’ hopes to end stereotypes

Edmonds activist and consultant Courtney Wooten advocates for children throughout Snohomish County.

This is one of the top four of 12 finalists for the Herald Business Journal’s annual Emerging Leaders award, which highlights and celebrates people who are doing good work in Snohomish County. The winner is to be announced during an online event on Thursday. Meet the other finalists.

Courtney Wooten, 37

Community organizer, Suburbia Rising/Stories of Self & Self Solidarity

Courtney Wooten likes to start the conversation by describing herself as “a mother interested in helping kids.”

“As a Black/bi-racial mother and head of a multigenerational household in Snohomish County, I get multiple perspectives on our community, our common values and shared struggles,” said Wooten, an Edmonds resident and the mother of two daughters, ages 5 and 8.

Three years ago, Wooten launched her business, Suburbia Rising/Stories of Self & Solidarity.

“That’s the company I founded to have an umbrella to fit over the work I’m doing in Snohomish County,” Wooten said.

“Courtney works as a consultant with many churches and nonprofits in the region,” said a nominator. “She is collaborative, selfless and talented.”

Wooten serves on the Snohomish County Children’s Commission, which aims to help children and families in poverty, and is a member of the Edmonds School District’s Leadership Team for the Equity Alliance for Achievement, which advocates for the success of children in the district.

“Edmonds School District is a majority/minority district that’s struggling with growth,” she said. “I want to help with how decisions around that are made.”

Wooten is active in the national discussion about the treatment of young, Black girls and other girls of color in the nation’s public schools.

Black girls are seven times more likely to be suspended from school and four times more likely to be arrested on a school campus, according to a U.S. Department of Education report. Overall, Black students are 2.3 times more likely to receive a referral to law enforcement or be subject to a school-related arrest than white students, the report said.

Wooten recently organized a screening of “Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School” for the Shoreline Black Lives Matter group.

The 2019 documentary examines the effect of negative stereotypes on young Black girls and explores what teachers and school officials can do to change course.

“Race is still the biggest predictor of educational success,” Wooten said, “and it shouldn’t be.”

Wooten, who grew up in Oakland, California, earned a degree in sociology from Stanford University. In 2003, she moved to the Puget Sound area, settling first in Everett and then Edmonds.

“I love Snohomish County, but it’s facing a lot of challenges — housing, education, poverty levels … opioids, transportation — there’s a lot of work to be done,” she said.

One obstacle she’s observed is the tendency for some longtime residents to indulge in nostalgia.

To be sure, there was a time when local cities were less crowded, rural even, and distinguished by single-family homes, Wooten said.

“We need to stop sentimentalizing the past and go forward. We can’t go back,” she said. “What we can do is build a community where people know and value one another. I hope to get us to a point where the future is bright.”

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

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