Anastasia Cale: Living On Her Principles

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West Point grad and military veteran Anastasia Cale wants to use her planning degree as a springboard to community action and public office.

Graduate student Anastasia Cale craves “order, discipline and routine.” So, it’s a little surprising how this West Point graduate and former Army Captain ended up at UW Tacoma. “I was sitting at my computer and started typing a bunch of words into Google,” said Cale. “I didn’t know what I was trying to articulate.”

A hodgepodge of words including “community,” “planning” and “Seattle” lead Cale to the Master of Arts in Community Planning program. “I wanted to do something that focused on community,” she said. “As it turns out UW Tacoma has one of the only community planning programs in the country.”

Cale graduated from West Point in 2012 with an undergrad psychology degree. She spent the next five years serving as a signal officer in the U.S. Army. “”We’re kind of the IT people of the Army,” she said. “We provide signal capabilities like antennas and satellite internet to soldiers out in the field.”

Cale’s military service took her to Uganda, Jordan and Kuwait. “I loved my soldiers and I liked being the one people would turn to when they needed help,” she said. Cale’s attention to detail, love of order and willingness to work hard made her a natural for the title of jumpmaster. Cale parachuted out of different aircraft more than 30 times during her time in the Army. “The jumpmaster runs the logistical side of things.” she said. “It’s a very specialized group that requires a lot of training and participants must pass a rigorous test. I was the only woman in my group.”

The 2016 presidential election changed Cale’s career trajectory. She’d already made the decision to leave the military and pursue a doctorate in psychology. “I was already accepted into a clinical psychology program at Seattle Pacific University,” said Cale. “Then the election happened and I really felt called to do something that would touch more people.”

Cale came to UW Tacoma in the fall of 2017. During her first year on campus she served as an intern with the City of Tacoma’s Community and Economic Development Department.  Recently, Cale landed her “dream job” as a project manager with the Tacoma Housing Authority [THA]. “Dr. Modarres says housing is the mother policy and I agree with him,” said Cale, referring to Dr. Ali Modarres, director of UW Tacoma's Urban Studies Program. “You can’t worry about how you want a better education or how you can fight climate change if you don’t have a roof over your head.”

Crafting policy is a big part of Cale’s work at the THA. “I help people make decisions on our programs based on the data in our database,” she said. Cale is committed to tackling local problems and the housing authority fits nicely into this personal philosophy. “The way we do our community engagement is really important,” she said. “We’re going out into the community and actually having conversations with people our decisions impact and getting their opinions instead of just focusing on theory or what worked well someplace else.”

Following completion of her master’s degree, Cale plans to stay with THA. She’s interested in eventually working for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Then again, Cale is also interested in running for office. “I think I’d like to run for president,” she said. “I’d start as a representative or senator but then try for the presidency. People think the process would corrupt me but I’ve made it this long living on my principles and I don’t see that changing.”

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Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge / June 12, 2019
Photos by: 
Ryan Moriarty
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu