Education: attended Jarvis Christian College, a historically Black college in Hawkins, Texas.
Did you go to college? If not, did you receive any training that has furthered your career? I did not receive a degree. Instead, I returned home with my two kids to care for my aging parents. I got to learn quickly about leadership by volunteering on several committees and boards. By serving, I got practical on-the-job training in real time.
Who has been a significant influence in your life and career? Without a doubt, my mother. In 1963, as a single Black woman, she moved with her four kids out of "Jim Crow" Mississippi to Spokane looking for a better life. She went on to open her own business and started a church, Mount Zion Holiness Church, in east central Spokane.
Do you have a favorite quote or motto? "The ultimate measure of a man (or woman) is not where he (or she) stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he (or she) stands at times of challenge and controversy."—Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Betsy Wilkerson was first elected to the Spokane City Council in 2020 and started her duties as councilwoman for District 2 just as the pandemic began. Three years later, in November, Spokane voters elected Wilkerson as City Council president, after she ran a campaign focused on strengthening community safety, supporting small businesses, and addressing homelessness and housing.
She's an advocate for civil service with previous experience on multiple boards and committees, including the city's Public Infrastructure, Environment, and Sustainability Committee; Spokane Airport Board; Spokane Regional Transportation Council; and Spokane Transit Authority.
For over 30 years, Wilkerson has operated small business in Spokane providing housing and health care, and as a longtime public servant, she says she remains motivated by her faith and her grandchildren to use her position as an elected official to open doors and bring access opportunities to emerging leaders.
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