Ruth Woo Fellowship in the Governor’s Office

“Over many, many years, Ruth Woo was a wonderful friend and mentor to countless Washingtonians. She was a trusted leader with a remarkable talent for bringing people together. Ruth was generous with her time, her ideas and advice.

“Ruth worked to create a space where everyone could step up, speak out and get involved. She worked tirelessly to make our communities stronger and more inclusive. Trudi and I send our condolences to her family and friends. She will be missed by all who knew her, yet her influence will live on.”

Governor Inslee on the passing of Ruth Woo
July 14, 2016

About Ruth Woo

Ruth WooRuth T. Woo was born November 28, 1926 in Kalispell, Montana to Tom and Riki Oya. She graduated from Hunt High School while interned at Minidoka Relocation Center, along with thousands of other Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. After the war, she married Hiroshi Yoneyama, who died in 1960. They had two children, Teresa and Janice. When the Yoneyamas tried to buy a house in South Seattle, their agent called to say they were not welcome by neighbors due to their race and ethnicity.

Ruth became involved in politics when she worked as a secretary for then-Seattle Mayor Gordon Clinton in the late 1950s, and then moved to Olympia to work as a receptionist for then-Governor Dan Evans. In 1975, she married Benjamin Woo, an architect and an influential leader in the Seattle Asian American community and father of five. Ben died in 2008.

A civil rights leader, Ruth, who was known to many as “Auntie Ruth,” believed in achieving social justice and equality for all people. She mentored would-be school board directors, county executives, state Supreme Court justices, and governors, particularly emerging leaders and people of color. Her influence led to more diverse leadership and inclusive policies in state and local government, which will continue to make a positive impact for decades to come.

Ruth passed away in Seattle on July 13, 2016 at the age of 89.

About the Fellowship

Start Date: Fall 2017, 15-20+ hours per week
Location: Office of the Governor, Olympia, WA
Salary and Benefits: Unpaid Fellowship

Course Credit: College course credit may be available. We will work with the students’ academic institutions to help them earn any academic credits for which they may be eligible.

Process: The top candidates will be contacted directly to interview for this position. Because the selection will be based on information provided by you, it is in your best interest to identify the knowledge, skills and abilities that address the mandatory and desirable qualifications described below.

Interested applicants should submit the following:

  1. Submit a statement of purpose describing your reasons for applying, expectations of the fellowship in furthering your goals and career or academic objectives, and any other relevant interest in public service. Also, please indicate which department you are most interested in:
    1. Boards and Commissions
    2. Communications
    3. Constituent Services
  2. A current resume detailing applicable experience and education
  3. One short writing sample

Please send completed application packets by mail or email to:

Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs
P.O. Box 40925
Olympia, WA 98504-0925

Applications to be received by: We are no longer accepting applications for this opportunity.

For more information about this position, please email

Position Description and Duties:

The Ruth Woo Fellowship in the Governor’s Office is a unique opportunity for currently enrolled college and graduate students to gain a hands-on learning experience in the Governor’s office. Fellows will be placed in a department within the Governor’s Office and have the opportunity to meet with staff at the Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs.

Individuals selected for the fellowship will have an opportunity to make important connections with mentors connected to Ruth Woo and to learn more about her life and legacy.

In continuing Ruth’s legacy, the office of Gov. Jay Inslee is looking for individuals who are committed to public service and achieving social justice and equality for all Washingtonians.

Fellowship Opportunities: Individuals may be placed with the following departments within the Governor’s Office:

Boards and Commissions

Boards and commissions are designed to give citizens a voice in their government and provide a means of influencing decisions that shape the quality of life for the residents of our state. Washington State has 200+ boards and commissions to which Gov. Inslee appoints citizen members. Fellows will assist the Director of Boards and Commissions in the fulfillment of office responsibilities including, but not limited to: soliciting, receiving, organizing, processing and responding to applications, assisting in outreach to board and commission members and researching board functions.


The Communications office works with the media to keep Washingtonians up to date on what’s happening in Gov. Inslee’s office. A fellow in the Communications office will assist with creating social media content, drafting press releases and speeches, assisting with media events, media tracking and other related duties as assigned.

Constituent Services

The Constituent Services division receives and processes 80,000 to 100,000 contacts each year. Fellows will assist with research, data entry, constituent responses, agency referrals and ceremonial letters from the Governor and other duties as assigned. Constituent Services fellows are expected to have a high level of interpersonal, writing and research skills.

Preferred/desired qualifications:

  • Interested in public policy and social justice issues impacting diverse, underserved, and/or underrepresented communities
  • Outstanding verbal, written and leadership skills
  • Ability to handle multiple priorities and meet established deadlines
  • Ability to work well and creatively, in a team environment and independently
  • Good judgment, ability to manage sensitive situations, professional and highly personable
  • Committed, with a passion for public service

The Office of the Governor is an equal opportunity employer. We strive to create a working environment that includes and respects cultural, racial, and ethnic, sexual orientation and gender identity diversity. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, persons of disability, persons over 40 years of age, and disabled and Vietnam-era veterans are encouraged to apply. Persons needing accommodation in the application process, or who wish to receive this job announcement in an alternative format, may call 360-725-0158 or the Telecommunications Device for the Deaf: 711 Relay