For Bellingham City Council President Hannah Stone, finding common ground between herself and others, and recognizing the interconnectedness of work and family are key to seeking peace, togetherness, and growth.
Stone, the Ward 1 representative for Bellingham, was elected to the council in November of 2019. She will serve a four-year term as the Ward 1 representative. Stone was elected by her fellow council members to serve as president of the council in January of 2021.
Stone grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and completed her undergraduate degree in international studies at Meredith College. Four years after graduating, she decided to take the LSAT and ended up attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
After law school, Stone and her husband decided they wanted to move somewhere new. Their shared love of the outdoors drew them to the Pacific Northwest.
Shortly after moving and taking the bar exam in 2006, Stone received a job in Fairhaven as an attorney. About a year later, she opened her own practice in the area of immigration law, a field that had long interested her.
As an immigration lawyer, Stone assists with family-based immigration, naturalization, deferred action, and asylum cases. She also represents individuals in removal proceedings and advises criminal defense attorneys on various immigration consequences.
Shortly after relocating to the Pacific Northwest, in 2005, Stone and her husband welcomed their son. Three years later, they welcomed their daughter.
“Being a mom was like my first and foremost full-time job, and then my practice as a solo practitioner,” Stone says.
In 2018, Stone was appointed to fill a vacancy on the city council. She joined the council while continuing to work in immigration law. The decision surprised some people, since her job as an immigration attorney was already quite stressful.
“The opportunity to run for city council was a way to refocus my time and energy on the local community and where my kids live and where they’re growing up, and where our family lives,” she says.
Council added balance to her life because she was able to help clients navigate the federal immigration system while remaining engaged in the local community. Stone believes it’s important to stress the “service” part of public service. She loves having the opportunity to help people and provide the community with “access to a microphone that’s unmuted.”
“For our family, volunteerism and sort of that civic engagement have always been just a part of who we are,” Stone says.
Being on council is interesting to Stone because each of the seven council members has a unique perspective. She is inspired by the council’s ability to acknowledge all seven perspectives, and then find common ground, despite their differences.
Through her city council position, Stone hopes to increase communication between Bellingham community members and the council. She believes the best way to accomplish this is through increased engagement and transparency.
“Increased engagement will require a wide variety of opportunities for community involvement, and development of new engagement efforts will require active collaboration with the community we serve. Similarly, increased transparency will advance public knowledge about local government priorities, processes, and policies,” Stone says.
In order to achieve meaningful change, Stone believes we must act with intention and remember that we are all connected. Looking back on her positions as a council member and as a mother, Stone reflects on the importance and value of recognizing interconnectedness.
“The work I do at home as a mom benefits my children, but it also benefits the broader community by raising them to be the incredible human beings that they are,” Stone says.
On a similar note, she hopes the work she does with council will benefit future generations, which will, in turn, benefit her children. In this way, her work is always enriching her home life, and her home life is always enriching her work. 210 Lottie St., Bellingham, 360.778.8211, cob.org