March 4, 2020 9:52 am

As a student at Pierce College Puyallup, Lauren Adler had no intention of getting involved in student government. In fact, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to attend college in the first place. “I was a first-generation college student from a single-parent home,” said Adler. “What propelled me to go to Pierce College was my father passing away unexpectedly in 2008. His union benefits helped fund my college education.”

Today, Adler serves as the District Director for Congressman Denny Heck. “Basically, I am the eyes, ears and face of the Congressman in Pierce County and beyond,” she said. “I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d go to work for a Member of Congress.”

A third-generation Puyallup native, Adler decided her “home town college” was the logical place to pursue her education after high school. She enrolled in 2009 and worked towards her associate degree (DTA) in 2012.

“Between dealing with my father’s passing, attending Pierce  full-time and working part-time, I didn’t intend to get involved in student activities on campus,” she said. “But the joke was on me.”

After talking with friends involved in Student Life and Government at Pierce, Adler ended up applying for and being named vice president for Government Affairs and later served as Student Body President at the Puyallup campus. “Getting involved helped me establish great relationships with staff, faculty and students that really enhanced my time at Pierce College,” Adler said. While in school, she also helped create the Washington State Community & Technical College Student Association.

“At the time, there wasn’t a student organization in Washington state specifically representing the voices of community and technical college students,” she said.  “Our collective voices were particularly important back in 2009-10 when the state was having to make deep budget cuts to the higher education system. We spent a lot of time  meeting with legislators,  conveying the message that the worst thing they could do is cut funding for community and technical colleges during an economic downturn. We believed that community and technical colleges were the “solution” to helping folks gain necessary skills and re-enter the workforce. Advocating on behalf of all Washington State Community Technical College Students became a daily experience.”

Adler carries forward that passion for advocacy in her present-day work. “I always want to make sure everyone’s voice is heard,” she said. “Even at Pierce, I worked hard to ensure that we had a voice in decision-making and college governance. Thankfully, the chancellor and the presidents really welcomed our voices and sought student input. That’s what I try to do now in my role, reflect the views of constituents back to Congressman Heck.

“I appreciate the opportunity to help people tell their stories. Personal stories are so powerful in helping legislators really understand the issues.”

After graduating from Pierce College in 2012, Adler worked for the Iron Workers union and did some political consulting. In April 2013, she joined the local staff of Congressman Denny Heck, four months into his first term. She has since held several positions with the Congressman’s office, all focused on community outreach.

Congressman Heck recently announced his decision not to run again when his position is up for re-election this fall. “I’m very fortunate to have worked for him and will be here until the end of his term. We still have plenty of work to do,” Adler said. She trusts something will work out for her next career move and she intends to stay in the Puyallup community, where she currently lives. Adler maintains strong ties to Pierce College Puyallup as well.

“I have really good relationships with former instructors and administrators," Adler said. "I’m proud to attend Pierce College fundraising events and donate to the college Foundation. I like to think of myself as the biggest Pierce College fan in our Washington state congressional staff delegation. What I love about Pierce College is that it’s small enough where everyone knows you, but large enough to force you to think bigger. I continue to appreciate Pierce College as a world-class institution, for all of its offerings.”