Like many parents, Julie van Arcken became a district advocate during the last school boundary overhaul in 2013. She and her Southeast neighbors and were concerned to see the unfair displacement of students of color, students receiving special education, and English language learners. She gathered and reviewed equity data, organized door-to-door outreach within the community, and partnered with neighbors of color to voice their concerns at School Board meetings. She collaborated with outgoing District 7 School Board Director Betty Patu and a Kimball parent on a unanimously passed amendment requiring the district to engage with the diverse communities of Southeast Seattle before making any boundary changes. In 2018, she successfully advocated for the district to propose a more equitable Southeast boundary change, which is now being considered by a special Southeast boundary task force.
As an extension of her Southeast schools advocacy, Julie served as Southeast Area Director for Seattle Council PTSA. She met with parents at various Southeast schools, keeping the council up to date on issues such as a principal transfer at Graham Hill and the start of the language immersion program at Dearborn Park. She also innovated for legislative affairs, suggesting that the Council allow parents to use online forms to populate postcards that could then be used to help draw state legislators' attention to Seattle parents' priorities.
In 2018, Julie was appointed to the Advanced Learning Task Force, which was convened to explore solutions to address the lack of diverse student representation in Advanced Learning. As part of this work, Julie served on the Mission and Vision subcommittee, and drafted a proposal that the Advanced Learning Department unequivocally commit to eliminating racial disparities in all facets of advanced learning services.
When Julie isn't advocating for students at district headquarters, she works as a senior product manager at Amazon.com. As a businesswoman who has conducted over 100 hiring interviews, she understands what tech employers are looking for in job candidates, and wants to help ensure our schools are teaching those skills. She previously worked as a journalist at democracy-supporting newspapers in the former Soviet bloc. Julie graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in anthropology.
Julie's heritage is multiracial. Her Dutch-Indonesian father was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, and immigrated to the United States. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, her father enrolled in career technical educational classes and became an IBEW union electrician. Her mother was educated in a highly tracked school system in England, until, based on her track, she exited school at the age of 15. After immigrating to the United States, she held a number of domestic, clerical, and service jobs. Her parents educated Julie and her brother in their local public schools in Oregon. Based on her own family history, Julie is a proud supporter of strong public schools, union jobs, immigrant families, and both college prep and career technical education options for all students.
Julie and her husband, Arthur, are raising their soon-to-be-middle-school daughter on Beacon Hill, where they have lived for 14 years. Besides advocating for school kids, Julie has also partnered with South Seattle neighbors on dozens of other community efforts over the years.
Image description: Adult with dark hair is shown holding up a sign that says "I support immigrant rights... because my parents are immigrants!"
Julie at the Opportunity Youth United Seattle booth at the Othello Block Party on 7/27/19.