Heather Ratcliffe, ’97 | At-large Trustee

Class of 1997, Bachelor of Arts, Geography / Information Systems

Why I Serve

Being a Husky is a family tradition. I was raised in Tacoma, Washington, where two of my cousins attended UW and played in the band. As an African-American, it was inspiring to know UW students who looked like me and were pursuing a university experience beyond sports. It further solidified for me that representation in all fields matter.

As a student at UW I continued to evolve to find my passion and placement in this world. I initially wanted to be a meteorologist, but a unique class, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), redirected my path. At the time, I was a fan of the television show, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. It spotlighted cutting-edge science and technology enabled by GIS technology. The intersection of my studies and the cool-factor of seeing it on television sparked my passion. I was all in!

Even decades later, the UW experience has shaped how I move in tech spaces. In recent years, I became a founding member of Black Women in STEM 2.0 and also helped establish, as a founding advisor the Inclusive Product Management Summit, through the UW’s Foster School of Business with the mission to create more inclusive spaces in the product management sector for historically marginalized communities.

It wasn’t until college that I really began to understand my history as a Black person. There was a Black Studies course that particularly resonated. The professor said that if serving is below you, leadership is beyond you. That remains my mantra. As a Trustee, I want to ensure representation at all levels from students to professors and alumni. Dream big! Together, let’s make UW the school of choice for future generations.

Learn more on LinkedIn.