With heavy hearts, we share the news that Kay Bullitt has passed away. Kay was a community legend, an education reformer, civil rights activist, and philanthropist celebrated for her many contributions to make this world and the city of Seattle a more just and equitable place. In her quiet, powerful, personal relations as well as her organizing work, Kay touched many lives – not to mention her significant impact on OneWorld Now! from its inception. OneWorld Now! is honored to be one of the many movements she built, championed, and supported.
“Kay’s kitchen at her home was the venue where it all started for One World Now! twenty years ago,” Board President Herman Uscategui recalls. As a long-time leader and supporter of international peace and justice initiatives, Kay agreed to be a founding Board member of OneWorld Now! as soon as she heard the Vision of the organization.
Kristin Hayden, OWN’s founder, was grateful to have a champion who understood this vision so well: “Kay committed to the power and necessity of international education before it was even understood and valued — and she had already been leading by example in her sister-city exchanges during the Cold War and Middle East Peace Camps hosted in her own backyard.”
Kay never shied away from OWN’s bold mission, even in the fear and reactions around 9/11 – the context that inspired OWN to begin. In fact, Uscategui reminds us, “Kay inspired us to coalesce around the mission and values of OneWorld Now!”
Kay not only served on the board for many years, she also stayed in personal contact with our students’ concerns and experiences. “She never lost sight of why we were all doing what we were doing; it was for the students,” Hayden recalls. “She was interested in the OWN students first, attending many events with them and listening deeply.”
Kay’s home on Capitol Hill bustled with events for local causes, including OWN, hosting countless OWN events over the years. In her final chapters of life, she continued to host board meetings at her house, which had been, in many ways, a home to OWN over the years.
Hayden concluded her recollections with, “All this to say, Kay Bullitt – a community legend and quiet-yet-mightiest of changemakers – has been the heart of OneWorld Now! throughout the years. She will be very missed – but her legacy and impact will be forever remembered. And she will be very pleased to know the vision of OneWorld Now! is continuing strong with our students as leaders, as the ones making this world a more equitable home for all.”
Uscategui recalls his friend and fellow board member with the words: “May her life continue to inspire all of us!”
Kay Bullitt with OWN founder, Kristin Hayden