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2020 Bullitt Prize Winner: Patience Malaba

on Tue, Sep 29, 2020 at 9:46 AM

2020 Bullitt Prize Recognizes Environmental Justice Advocate:
Award Winner born in Rural Zimbabwe Focuses on Affordable Housing Advocacy in Seattle

SEATTLE – The Bullitt Foundation announced today that it is awarding the 14th annual Bullitt Environmental Prize to Patience Malaba, an environmental justice and affordable housing advocate who immigrated to the United States from Zimbabwe. The Prize recognizes young people who have overcome adversity and demonstrated the ability to become powerful environmental leaders.
Malaba is the Director of Government Relations and Policy at the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County, where she leads the organization’s policy and advocacy work. Her prior work includes leading Seattle for Everyone, a coalition advocating for the first comprehensive package of affordable housing policies in Seattle, known as the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA).
“From transportation and climate change to racial equity and community cohesion, affordable housing sits at the root of many challenges facing society,” said Denis Hayes, CEO of the Bullitt Foundation. “Patience has shown the grit, charisma, and smarts needed to bring people together around a common vision.”
Born in Lupane Village in rural Zimbabwe, Malaba’s advocacy career started early with the creation of the Lupane Youth for Development Trust, an organization training young people to participate in political decision-making processes and influence government decisions. While politics could be a dangerous activity in Zimbabwe, Malaba was motivated by a passion to care for others. Based on her experience, she was accepted to the U.S. Department of State’s Community Solutions Program, which placed her with OneAmerica, an immigrant and refugee advocacy organization in Washington State. The organization was founded by Pramila Jayapal, who is now the U.S. Representative from Washington’s 7th District.
“Patience is a great example of the type of people OneAmerica looks for—people who are dedicated, resilient and who have immense potential and fresh perspectives as they help build stronger, more inclusive communities,” said U.S. Representative Jayapal.
Malaba next worked for FutureWise, where she became involved with growth management and civic planning, serving as the project support for affordable housing in the coalition. Outside of work, she volunteered in the Sierra Club Seattle Group Executive Committee focused on environmental justice in urban growth issues, along with endorsing and supporting green candidates.
“Patience is a tireless advocate for affordable housing and environmental justice,” said Seattle City Council Member Teresa Mosqueda, a frequent ally to Malaba on housing issues. “It is fantastic to see the Bullitt Foundation recognize her leadership and the importance of having her voice at the tables where policy decisions are made.”
The goal of the Bullitt Environmental Prize is to help broaden and diversify the leadership of the environmental movement. It comes with $100,000 awarded over two years. Malaba plans to use these resources to further her studies – she is currently enrolled in a Master of Public Administration program at Seattle University, with plans to enroll in a PhD program focused on the intersection of environmental law and sustainable urban planning to support affordable housing. As Seattle prepares its next update to the Comprehensive Plan in 2024, Malaba will advocate for reforms to single-family zoning, drawing on lessons from Minneapolis and Portland, to undo systemic racism in the city’s land-use policies.
Malaba is a graduate of Puget Sound Sage’s Community Leadership Institute, Institute for a Democratic Future and she serves on the Seattle Planning Commission and the board of directors of the Transportation Choices Coalition.
Past winners of the Bullitt Environmental Prize include an advocate for immigrant farmworkers, soil carbon researcher, Bahamian marine biologist, wildlife conservation leader trying to reduce conflict between wolves and ranchers, veterinarian with a doctorate in public health who studies zoonotic diseases, a researcher focused on climate change adaptation, and an advocate for organic food security.
While the Bullitt Foundation has announced plans to sunset its grantmaking at the end of 2024, it is reserving funds to continue awarding the Bullitt Prize in perpetuity.