This is the first post in an ongoing series featuring local heroes in Washington and the people who have helped shape their lives.

On a soggy fall day in a small Seattle coffee shop, I met Cheri Cornell for the first time. At this point, all I knew about Cheri was that she was an amazing volunteer for the Initiative 594 campaign who, among other brave advocates, had a compelling gun violence story. After hearing her story, I wanted to learn more about Cheri. More importantly, I wanted to find out who the heroes that helped shape her life were. So, this is Cheri and these are her heroes.

“I’ve always been interested in politics and campaigns. I like the slumber party atmosphere of campaigns, the sense that we will all be here 24/7 until we get this job done. As a young person working on campaigns, I was one of those kids who was amazed by the generosity of “mature” volunteers. Now I’m on the mature side and understand that patience (and quiet persistence) is the only way you reach your goals, whether it’s passing an important social justice initiative or gathering enough volunteers to staff your Sunday phone bank.

Who are the heroes who have shaped you and your life?

“First, I’d have to say Dan Evans. After Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson passed away, I jumped on his campaign and he taught me how to bravely stand behind well-reasoned policies that keep the public good at the forefront, regardless of political pressures.

I guess another hero of mine would have to be my good friend Roberta “Robbie” Riley. She is truly a visionary and big thinker. She’s so smart, smart enough to work with people. I appreciate how when working with others, she recognizes where they’re coming from, she understands their limitations. She’s also just conquered so many personal challenges with her bravery and more importantly with humor. She’s taken some big chances while advocating for women’s healthcare and pushed her ideas until someone listened – she’s so persistent.

Lastly, I’d have to say my grandmother. Who is still alive, I might add – she’s 101 and could still beat me at a foot race down the road! She’s simply amazing. She lost a son at a young age and I didn’t know about this until I was much older and understood how huge this loss was a part of her life. She dealt with it in a way that kept her whole still. My grandmother was an incredibly positive force in my life. You know, she worked really hard all of her life, she was always a steady force and always maintained her strong faith. She’s always been ahead of her time, bravely examining and standing up for issues like gay rights, something others her age might have simply waved off as issues the next generation would have to worry about.

All three of these people taught me to be brave in different ways. My grandmother taught me to be brave and go out, have my adventures, get away from the family and then come back. Dan Evans showed me that I could take on the hard subjects and ask the really hard questions in public, to be brave and not be scared of doing that. Roberta makes me brave by encouraging me to think outside of the box and look for all the endless possibilities.”

After Cheri left, I started to wonder, who’s been that hero in my life who valued bravery? Which also makes me wonder: who’s been a hero in your life that’s taught you or encouraged you to test the waters, think outside of the box and ahead of your time, never stop looking for the endless possibilities and be brave?