Meet the Team: Katie Usalis

By RepresentWomen on June 23, 2021

My name is Katie Usalis, and I am an intern on the Outreach & Advocacy Team. After growing up in Cincinnati, OH and working as a Special Education Teacher in Colorado after undergraduate school, I have spent the last six years living and working in international development in Southeast Asia and Europe. I am currently living in Barcelona, Spain, where my husband and I relocated for my master’s studies. I will graduate this summer with a Master’s in International Development from the Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (Barcelona Institute of International Studies).

 

My experience in developing countries, combined with the knowledge gained through my master’s program, opened my eyes to the power of policy in shaping our daily lives and futures. I saw how governments all over the world, including the US, fail to both physically and substantively represent their people, leading to numerous problems in nearly every aspect of life. I saw how this lack of representation creates systems of compounding barriers, inequality, exclusion, and poverty traps for the most vulnerable, who are almost always minority women. Therefore, working to improve governance through the meaningful inclusion of women, especially women of color and women with disabilities, became the heart of my passion. I believe female participation in politics not only improves democracies, but is a ‘structural catalyst’ to sustainable, equitable growth and is essential for addressing issues that simply aren’t a reality for the majority white, male politician. Following this drive, I chose to focus my master’s thesis on analyzing the mechanisms that influence the effectiveness of gender quotas through comparative process tracing analysis of Argentina and Brazil, with the idea to contribute to better implementation of gender quotas in similar contexts.

 

This led me to the work of RepresentWomen and, after realizing our shared convictions, I couldn’t pass up the chance to learn and work alongside the team. I am most excited about working on electoral reform, creating linkages between female politicians and feminist organizations to further embed gender parity in politics into US feminist agendas, and anything related to changing systems of oppression and exclusion!

 

I have an insatiably curious nature, so outside of work you can find me exploring and trying new things. I’m a full-fledged plant-mom who is slightly addicted to rock climbing and being in nature! I also enjoy studying Spanish, having tapas and wine with friends on the plaza, and learning new things through interesting and thoughtful conversations with people from all around the world.

 

“...feminism isn’t just academic theory. It isn’t a matter of saying the right words at the right time. Feminism is the work that you do, and the people you do it for who matter more than anything else.” - Mikki Kendall, Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women White Feminists Forgot