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

The Governor’s Leadership Academy is a unique internship program for currently enrolled college and graduate students to gain a hands-on learning experience in the Governor’s office. One Leadership Academy participant in the Governor’s office in Olympia will be selected as a Ruth Woo Fellow. In addition to the Leadership Academy experience, the Ruth Woo Fellow will have an opportunity to make important connections with community leaders and elected and public officials connected to Ruth Woo and to learn more about her life and work. 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. Read more about the Governor’s Leadership Academy.

Start dates: Fellow may begin their 10-week program on June 4 or June 18, 2018.

Location: Office of the Governor, Olympia, WA

Salary and benefits: Fellow will earn $15.00 an hour, for their 28 hours/week (4 days/week, 7 hours/day). No benefits are available. Course Credit: College course credit may be available. We will work with students’ academic institutions to help them earn any academic credits for which they may be eligible.

Process: To be considered for this opportunity, students must be applying to work in the Governor’s Olympia office. They must submit the Leadership Academy application materials and include in their letter of interest specific reasons why they would like to be selected as a Ruth Woo Fellow within the Governor’s Leadership Academy.

Applications to be received by: February 12, 2018

For more information about this position, please email

Preferred/desired qualifications:

  • Interested in public policy and social justice issues impacting diverse, underserved, and/or underrepresented communities
  • Outstanding communication 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