Marsha McDowell

HRTS MA Student

Marsha McDowell has a BS in Applied Psychology from Arizona State University and is currently a student of the Human Rights Practice Master’s program at U of A. She lives in the Seattle, WA area but has previously lived in Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Oregon, Iowa, and California.

While completing her undergraduate studies Marsha worked in the financial industry managing internal auditing and project management teams and then became a stay-at-home parent in 2008 when her first child was born.  While raising her two children she volunteered in a variety of capacities with local public schools and, after moving to Washington State in 2018, she decided to become more involved in her community and social justice activism. She started volunteering at a local food bank and after being accepted to the Human Rights Practice graduate program in 2021, she  joined the board of GLSEN Washington State as the Treasurer. Her work with GLSEN, a nationwide network that supports LGBTQ students, has extended to participating in professional development programs for educators, promoting the Rainbow Library to get LGBTQ books into school libraries, and as a certified “IN*clued” sexual education facilitator. Most recently, she became a volunteer coordinator with Social Justice Sewing Academy to assign quilt blocks to quilters and sewists who make quilt blocks to memorialize people who have been killed by the police, domestic violence, or because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Marsha has always felt pulled to helping people who are facing struggles in life regardless of why they are struggling. She believes everyone deserves to live a life of dignity and humanity which has drawn her to focus on mass incarceration in the United States and how previous trauma, discrimination, and prejudice are often the reason why people become involved with the justice system. She hopes to continue her work with GLSEN Washington to educate teachers and administrators to understand their role in the School-to-Prison Pipeline and also work with LGBTQ youth to help support them through activities and workshops. She plans on continuing her education by attending law school with a focus on civil rights.

Read a Q&A with Marsha McDowell about her work with GLSEN.