Community Liaisons

Overview and Background

Seattle is a diverse city, with many different racial, ethnic, economic, and linguistic communities.  While the City government exists to serve all of Seattle's communities, in practice, it is often the communities with the most resources who have the most access to City information, resources, and decision-making power.

In 2009, the Community Liaison program (formerly known as the Public Outreach and Engagement Liaison program) was created to help the City do a better job of engaging with and serving historically underrepresented communities.  Modeled after other "trusted advocates" programs, the Community Liaisons are embedded community leaders from a variety of immigrant and refugee communities, communities of color, and communities of seniors, youth, and people with disabilities. The Community Liaisons bring deep expertise on their communities' needs and concerns, trusting relationships with community members, and an ability to build bridges between City government and community interests.  The first Community Liaisons were contracted to engage communities in Southeast Seattle in neighborhood planning efforts as the new light rail system opened there.  The Liaisons' efforts generated valuable feedback from more than 1,200 members of 16 different communities on their hopes, fears, and aspirations for their neighborhoods with the arrival of light rail.  

Since 2009, the Community Liaison program has continued to evolve.  Most recently in 2018, the Community Liaison program counted more than 80 liaisons on its roster representing 40 different communities and languages.  In 2018, Community Liaisons worked with 15 City departments on 48 outreach and engagement projects. 

Community Liaisons at Work

Community Liaisons are paid at competitive wages as independent contractors for their work.  Staff from the Department of Neighborhoods manage Community Liaison work in partnership with staff from other City departments. Community Liaison work is wide-ranging and includes such tasks as:

  • Advising on outreach materials and plans
  • Participating in and convening focus groups
  • Conducting door-to-door outreach and survey collection
  • Online and social media engagement
  • Working with ethnic media
  • Participating in committees and advisory bodies
  • Translating and proofreading documents
  • Interpreting at events