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Seattle’s Most Influential People 2018: Seattle Silence Breakers

Denise Krownbell and Gina Petry, leaders of Seattle Silence Breakers, are pushing our city to tackle sexual harassment, assault and gender-based discrimination

By Erica C. Barnett October 20, 2018

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This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of Seattle Magazine.

This article appears in print in the November 2018 issue, as part of the Most Influential People of the Year feature. Click here to subscribe.

The #MeToo movement, which gained national momentum in the wake of sexual assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, has reverberated throughout workplaces across America, including the city of Seattle, where a group of women—led by City Light employees Denise Krownbell and Beth Rocha (who has since left the city but is still active in the group) and Radical Women organizer Gina Petry—started meeting last year to share their stories. When they did, they noticed a pattern: Women (and men) who reported discrimination or sexual misconduct to the city were often reassigned, offered settlements or subjected to investigations of their behavior.

The group, now known as the Seattle Silence Breakers, staged a series of actions, pressuring the city to tackle sexual harassment, assault and gender-based discrimination. Mayor Jenny Durkan has been responsive, placing new restrictions on sexual harassment settlements and forming a new, citywide anti-harassment team. The Silence Breakers, however, are keeping the pressure on, pushing the city to make the Office for Civil Rights independent of the mayor’s office and to hire an ombudsperson to handle city employees’ discrimination and sexual harassment complaints. 

This story was updated on 10/29 and reflects Beth Rocha’s continued involvement with the Seattle Silence Breakers.

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