Amal Mure is the newest member of the Byrd Barr Place family! As the new Energy Assistance Program Director, she manages the energy assistance programs that offer support for community members to pay water, electricity and utility bills.
In this interview, Amal shares her vision for the role, how she came into service work, and the mantra that keeps her going.
Q: Please tell us about yourself and where you grew up?
I was born in Kuwait, but my parents immigrated to Seattle when I was very young. My family was drawn to the area because of the large Somali population here. Over the years I was able to acclimate and find a community of my own. So while I was raised in Seattle and tell people that I’m from Seattle, I wasn’t born here.
Q: What drew you to Byrd Barr Place?
I have worked with a lot of nonprofits over the course of my career, and without really knowing how it happened, I found myself moving from working with nonprofits in general to working with nonprofits with a specific focus on the Black community.
I was laid off during the pandemic, so I had the opportunity to intentionally redirect, to ask myself “where do i want to go from here?” I had a conversation with someone connected to Byrd Barr Place and felt that its focus on Black and brown communities was a great fit for this next step.
Q: What are you most excited to do within your new position?
I am most excited to use our grants, contracts and money to not only help people with their energy bills, but to create spaces where people can connect to more services and resources. I want to ensure that when people come to Byrd Barr Place, they feel at home, comfortable and part of a connected community.
Q: Byrd Barr Place’s mission is to create an equitable future for all Washingtonians. What does an equitable future look like to you?
For me, an equitable future is one in which people do not feel limited by their circumstances. In an equitable future we take away the barriers that prevent people from moving forward in their lives. People look at their light or water bill and can feel limited about their next steps. By removing that barrier folks can take control of their lives, whether that looks like searching for a job, volunteering, or continuing their education.
I’m obsessed with it! It’s beautiful and bright, when you walk in you don’t feel like it’s one of those spaces where you are only seen as a number. Some offices are really dark and dungeon-like; you feel like you’re in a pacman game. Here there is a lot of natural light that is very uplifting. The Roberta room and the well-being room are particularly comfortable. You go in there and forget you’re even at work!
Q: Do you have a mantra or quote you live by?
“Everything happens for a reason.”
After getting laid off during the pandemic, I truly did not know what was going to happen moving forward, but it ended up being a good decision. If I had not been laid off, I wouldn’t be at Byrd Barr Place.
Q: What gives you hope?
My name actually means hope!
Generally, I thrive off the energy of those around me, when others are happy and encouraged, I feel happy and encouraged. My family gives me hope – I have a 7-month-old son and witnessing him see everything with fresh eyes is inspiring. We walked past a house with Christmas lights and he was just fascinated; seeing his sense of wonder gives me hope.
I also keep in mind that things are always changing. Things never stay negative, we are always moving forward. So when things are challenging I remember that it’s not going to stay that way for long and that gives me hope.