By Molly Lewis
Before working at Hanford Challenge, I had never heard of Hanford. I had never considered the aftermath and logistical nightmares that nuclear cleanup might entail, and certainly what not who would be doing the cleanup. In researching Hanford before my job interview, I was astonished to learn just how much a 600 square mile space in Eastern Washington has consequences for human and nonhuman life in the Pacific Northwest and the country.
For several years, I was an English PhD student in Washington DC with a specialization in medieval literature. In my life before grad school though, I had interned at the Jane Goodall Institute and worked in several communities in South Carolina for the American Cancer Society. I was inspired to work with and for the public by my grandfather, who was a doctor by trade but a tireless crusader for public health, education, and access for the most vulnerable populations during his 60 year plus career as a pathologist. His consistent war cry was that medicine should be centered around the patient ultimately stemmed from his belief that a government should be working for and accountable to the people, not the other way around.
Though I learned so much in my time as a graduate student about systemic injustice, I wanted to take my work from theoretical and conceptual to practical, real world experiences. Once I moved to Seattle, I decided I wanted to find work that brought more meaning to my life in this current political environment and stumbled across the Hanford Challenge job listing of development coordinator. In reading Hanford Challenge’s mission statement and the scope of their work, I immediately felt drawn to the passion and commitment to hold the government accountable and to do better by the people and environment of the Pacific Northwest.
Before my grandfather passed away last September, I was able to send him Hanford Challenge’s website and the job listing. Although he was 91, he was always at his computer, sending off emails to me with various articles linked about current events and wanting to hear my thoughts. Although he died before he could respond with his thoughts on Hanford Challenge, I know that he would be very invested and proud of all the work that our organization does. I am thrilled to continue my grandfather’s legacy in my work with Hanford Challenge, fighting for worker and whistleblower protections, holding government agencies accountable, and informing the public to ensure an environmentally safe and effective cleanup.
About the author: Molly Lewis works as the Development Coordinator at Hanford Challenge and is responsible for carrying out all aspects of the fundraising and development for Hanford Challenge. She manages the Hanford Challenge fundraising events, as well as donor communications.