2023-2024 Public Policy Fellows
Jessica Gutierrez Elias
CHCI Public Policy Fellow Presented by United Food and Commercial Workers
Hometown: Wenatchee, Washington
School: Gonzaga University
Degree: B.A. in Communication Studies
Placement: The Office of Congressman Darren Soto
Jessica (she/her/ella) is a proud Chicana lucky to call both Lynwood, California and Wenatchee, Washington home. Raised by her hardworking mother who immigrated from Nayarit, Mexico, she quickly learned the limitations and privileges of being a first-generation American. Jessica’s life, as well as her family’s, has been profoundly influenced by numerous policies, sparking her interest in civic engagement from an early age and providing the motivation to pursue further education. Navigating systems that were not built to provide adequate or sustainable resources for migrant, undocumented, or low-income families helped her seek opportunities to learn more about her community’s history of unmet needs and to intentionally center them to create narratives of change. She is grateful to her ancestors and family members who helped pave a path for her and her passion.
Jessica received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies with a minor in Critical Race & Ethnic Studies from Gonzaga University and is a first-generation college graduate. Throughout her undergraduate career, Jessica was involved in many student-centered organizations such as the Building Relationships in Diverse Gonzaga Environments (BRIDGE) mentoring and orientation program and the Undocumented Community Support Coalition. She also served as a Rogers High School Postsecondary Summer Outreach Fellow and recently completed a Pre-Law Diversity Fellowship with Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. Her senior year consisted of working at the Center For Cura Personalis, a facility for students in need of resources. Attending a predominantly white institution was an enduring journey that helped Jessica always remember her roots and use her personal experiences to campaign for better university accommodations for future students.
As a CHCI Public Policy Fellow, Jessica hopes to continue her passion for advocating for those who are often left behind in the legislative process while familiarizing herself with government policy. Leveraging her educational background and, more importantly, applying the knowledge she has acquired, she aims to contribute back to her own community in the state of Washington in the future.