February 11, 2020

“Learn to be a Master of Yourself:” A Q&A with Abel Pacheco (MPA ‘12)

What would you consider one of your greatest professional successes?

My appointment to the Seattle City Council was a transformative experience.

I’ve been fortunate to work on projects that have been personally meaningful, and alongside great teams and leaders. Each project, success, and lesson learned from the organizations I’ve been a part of – like The Seattle Foundation, the Seattle Police Foundation, and the UW’s Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity –led to my appointment to the Seattle City Council. Serving as a councilmember was a humbling experience. As a young millennial of color, an advocate for education and police reform, and a dedicated public servant, it was an incredible opportunity to put my experience to work to enhance our communities and our city.  

What contributed to your decision to pursue a career in support of the public good? Was there a defining moment in particular?

At 19 years old I was almost kicked out of college, and I was working the graveyard shift at a grocery store restocking shelves. One night, one of the guys I worked with asked me what I was doing with my life, and it caused me to reflect deeply on what I was really doing with my life. Driving home that morning after work, I cried as I processed my thoughts.

I thought about all the people that did the advocacy and work for programs and organizations that my family benefited from. As a first-generation college student, I felt a sense of responsibility to my family to do something with the opportunity before me and to give back. Irrespective of the major or career choices I made, I needed to use my knowledge and skills to contribute to the public good. 

How does your Evans education impact how you approach your work today?

The Evans School, and the relationships the Evans School fostered with faculty and peers, have been instrumental to my professional growth. The Evans School’s sharpened my memo writing skills, deepened my ability to do stakeholder analysis, and refined my leadership skill set.

If you could give Evans School students one piece of advice, what would it be?

Learn to be a master of yourself. The more you dive into identifying your needs, wants, strengths, weaknesses, values, motivations, etc., the more effective you’ll be in your endeavors.