Natalie Kenoyer: An Influential Emerging Voice in State Politics


Peiran Liu

SU Student Natalie Kenoyer

When discussing students who are likely to make a major political impact after graduation, Natalie Kenoyer is bound to be mentioned. The fourth-year political science and history double major is the leader of Young Democrats on campus, a national organization that encourages students in colleges to advocate for progressive issues and to network within their communities. 

Kenoyer came to Seattle U with an interest in city politics and was motivated to find a way to make a difference in her community through political activism.

“I am from a rural area outside of Portland, where there is not a lot of policy discussion taking place beyond the school board. I came to Seattle U wanting to get involved in real policy that affected people and improved their lives,” Kenoyer said.

Kenoyer spoke about how she initially started the journey to establish a chapter of the Young Democrats on campus in the hopes of providing a forum for students. While Seattle U is often characterized as a hub for social justice organizing, the campus did not have a club for students belonging to the Democratic Party. 

“We needed a Young Democrats club on campus, we had a conservative club so we needed that party representation, so that’s how I got started with King County Young Democrats to see how a chapter should be run,” Kenoyer said. 

Since creating the club, Kenoyer has created a valuable resource for progressive students on campus. Shasti Conrad, the state chair of Washington’s Democrats, was hosted by the club in February in 2022. The club also co-hosted a rally advocating for abortion rights in the month preceding the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Kenoyer has also been an important voice on campus. She penned an opinion editorial arguing that Seattle U’s campus needs to be more navigable for all students, and has served as a regular expert voice on state politics in The Spectator over the past four years. 

Her impact has not gone unnoticed by the state party. At the Young Democrats of Washington Conference hosted in Spokane May 19-21, she won Young Democrat of the Year. Given this resume, Kenoyer is worth keeping an eye on for anyone interested in the next generation of political leadership in the northwest. 

At that same conference, Seattle U Young Democrats Chair Claire Cox, first-year history and women, & gender and sexuality studies double major, was elected to the College Democrats of Washington Board as Membership and Fundraising Director.

Kenoyer notes that the Young Democrats offers a number of opportunities for students looking to get involved with local political campaigns, including a lobby day and door knocking for candidates, and hopes to encourage other Seattle U students to participate.

“It was so rewarding to get out to see the broader community outside of Seattle U. Political activism does not stop in November, the Washington state legislature meets from January to April (next year); that is a great way for students to be student lobbyists. They can send emails to their legislatures, even if they’re not a registered voter they can still have their voice be heard,” Kenoyer said.

Kenoyer stressed the importance that anyone can make an impact in their community. 

“Getting active in the legislature, attending meetings where you advocate for bills that you’re passionate about are ways you can get involved.” Kenoyer said. 

Aside from leaders in Young Democrats, there are several other notable graduating student activists who have made waves while at Seattle U. Isabella Maffei, a fourth-year public affairs and political science double major, has worked in the Washington State Senate internship program, and was the manager of campaigns in Sammamish, King and Pierce counties, as well as working in state and federal activism. 

Ruby Berliner, a fourth-year public affairs and philosophy double major, has made an impact working as a fellow at the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, and as an intern at Newman Partners, a fundraising and strategy firm for progressive political campaigns. 

In addition, Braelyn Scheer, a graduating political science major, has become a vocal advocate in campus politics as president of Seattle U’s Student Government. Most recently, Scheer sent a campus-wide email arguing that the university should be more transparent in its tuition increase regimes. All of these students are poised to emerge as significant civic influencers post-graduation. 

Seattle U has produced several local, state and federal political leaders. As Kenoyer prepares to graduate in just two weeks, it is clear that there is still a great deal of civic influence still being produced at Seattle U. Those interested in the future of the state would be well-served by continuing to follow the efforts of the Young Democrats club and campus activists.