The 2015 ESO Advisory Council

The ESO Advisory Council was created at the end of 2013 to link the ESO work of legislators with resources provided by Women In Government and the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF). The Council includes representation from across the country (as seen in the map below) and the political spectrum. 

The issue areas addressed by the Council include but are not limited to juvenile justice, child welfare, affordable housing, workforce development, and homelessness. Council participants are engaging with WIG and AECF to determine activities that can be implemented in their individual states to begin addressing many of these issues


2015 Council Members 

Representative Patricia Bellock 

Representative Bellock has served in the 47th district in the Illinois General Assembly since 1999. She is a community activist in education and juvenile justice. She has hosted town hall meetings on Illinois pension and budget issues. Representative Bellock joined the Advisory Council in 2014. 

Representative Dee Dawkins-Haigler 

Representative Dawkins-Haigler has served the 91st district in the Georgia House of Representatives since 2008. She is an advocate for youth. She previously served on the Juvenile Parole Board for the state of South Carolina after being appointed by Governor Jim Hodges. Representative Dawkins-Haigler is also the chairwoman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. Representative Dawkins-Haigler joined the Advisory Council in 2014.

Representative Becky Edwards 

Representative Edwards has represented the 20th District on the Utah House of Representatives since 2009. She is the Chair for the Economic Development and Workforce Services Standing Committee, is a member of the Higher Education Appropriation Committee, and also a member of the Utah State Workforce Investment Board. She is an advocate for education and economic growth. 

Representative Marcia Hovey-Wright 

Representative Hovey-Wright has been a psychotherapist and a licensed social worker and spent her career helping families in the Muskegon area of Michigan. She is serving her third term in the Michigan House of Representatives and represents the 92nd District. She is the Minority Vice Chair for the Families, Children, and Seniors Committee and also a member of the Criminal Justice Committee. Read more about her bill to combat youthful offender recidivism, here. 

Representative Helene Keeley 

Representative Keeley is a member of the Delaware House of Representatives, representing the 3rd District since 1996. She is on the House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance/Commerce Committee, Labor Committee, and the Housing & Community Affair Committee. Representative Keeley has also served as a State Director for the National Foundation for Women State Legislators (NFWL). 

Representative Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff 

Representative Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff represents the 47th District in the Colorado House of Representatives since 2013. Representative Navarro worked as an educator for the Colorado Department of Corrections and Las Animas High School. She serves on the Business, Labor, Economic and Workforce Development Committee. To learn more about her bill to address the rehabilitation of the youthful offender system, read here. 

Representative Melissa Sargent

In November 2012, Sargent was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly representing the 48th Assembly district. She is a founding member of Make Room For Youth (MRFY) an advocacy group for homeless, unaccompanied youth. Representative Sargent joined the Advisory Council in 2014. 

Representative Peggy Sayers

Representative Sayers was first elected to the Connecticut General Assembly’s 60th House District in 1999. Rep. Sayers currently serves as House Deputy Speaker. Her community work includes serving as a Justice of the Peace and as a former member of the Windsor Locks Planning & Zoning Commission and past chair of the Committee on the Needs of Aging. Representative Sayers joined the Advisory Council in 2014.

Representative Jacqueline Sly

Representative Jacqueline Sly has served in the South Dakota House of Representatives since 2009. She is the House Majority Whip. As a member of the Legislative Planning Committee, Representative Sly has worked on a workforce development plan for South Dakota. Representative Sly joined the Advisory Council in 2014. 

Representative Keisha Waites

Representative Waites was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives of the 60th district on February 6, 2012. Since taking office, Representative Waites, has secured a community grant from the Home Depot Foundation, sponsored a regional Job Fair, and hosted numerous community clean ups. Rep. Waites has also secured in-kind sponsorships for the youth of district 60 to attend many premium venues in Georgia at no cost to the students, parents, or taxpayers. Representative Waites joined the Advisory Council in 2014. 

Senator Jackie Winters 

Senator Winters was first elected to the state legislature in 1998 and served as a State Representative until 2002. In 2002, she was elected to the State Senate and has served in this capacity ever since. In 2013, Oregon’s Governor John Kitzhaber appointed Senator Winters as Convener of the Mid-Willamette Valley Regional Solutions Center (RSC) Advisory Committee. In this role, Senator Winters has played an active role working with and funding the Marion-Polk Food Share, which is a regional food bank serving the Marion and Polk counties of Oregon. Senator Winters joined the Counil in 2014. 

 At our regional conferences, Council participants from that region will share their experiences in trying to address ESO issues through legislative work. The conference will provide a space for discussion of these topics, allowing all legislators to engage with and learn from one another with the Council acting as a resource. 

The Council is also an opportunity for legislators to engage with diverse perspectives and stakeholders. Council participants are encouraged to reach out to other women legislators in their states, particularly those in a different political party, to collaborate on ESO activities.