Alumni StoriesCori Tingstad ’14

Cori Tingstad ’14: Imagining Social Justice

Change. Growth. Justice. These three words not only speak to Cori Tingstad, but are words that have guided their life. Currently, Cori works at Seattle’s Civil Rights Justice Center, assisting attorneys on employment discrimination and prison condition cases. Cori’s compass has always pointed towards common good. This direction sprang from their time at The Bush School.

“I know he’s retired now, but Gardiner Vinnedge and his civics class had a huge impact on me,” Cori says. “It’s during his class that, for the first time, I thought policy could be something I could focus a career on, as opposed to something I’d approach through volunteering or as a hobby. Bush introduced me to peace circles and restorative justice and fundamentally changed my views on how social change is made.” At Bush, Cori was able to look to the past, and this directed their future. They minored in History at the University of Chicago and recently spoke at Bush’s History Day, coordinated by Upper School History Faculty Nancy Bowman. Through their studies, Cori was able to look to the past, synthesize it, and not only imagine a better future, but also take steps to help create that better future. At the University of Chicago, Cori received a B.A. in Public Policy. There, they researched fair housing law and the history of poverty law in the United States, becoming a research assistant at the Sargent Shriver Peace Institute. In their current work for Civil Rights Justice Center, Cori pays particular focus to healthcare access for those incarcerated. “Any move towards social justice,” Cori says, “requires imagination: How can we imagine a better world? What can we imagine can help get us there?” Once one can imagine that, Cori says research and testing can begin. “Is the policy currently in place demonstrably doing what we hoped it would? If not, what do we imagine might change that? Will this policy, or that practice, move us towards the world we imagine?” Change. Growth. Justice. Cori’s guiding compass toward a more just future was polished in their youth by The Bush School. “It gave me a foundational respect for intentional, interpersonal communication as a mechanism for social change. Talking to someone can make an impact.” They appreciate the freedom at Bush to discover that what one is passionate about can make an impact. “Small things add up when you try and improve the lives of people around you.” These days people are self-isolating to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Even so, Cori continues to think of ways to strengthen the bonds of disparate communities. “I’ve been thinking a lot lately about food supply chains, food access, and food justice.” Food access is a human right, they firmly believe, and some policies in place undermine that access. Their research from home taught them about Seattle’s Tilth Alliance, whose mission is to work with local farmers, gardeners, and eaters to build a sustainable, healthy, and equitable food future. Cori, once the confinements lift, plans on getting involved with the organization. Change. Growth. Justice. Cori, seeds of common good in one hand, compass in the other, is finding the next plot of soil to begin planting.
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