Professional Women of Color Panelists

Joyce Walker

Joyce Walker is an American women's basketball player who is most renowned for being the third woman to join the Harlem Globetrotters, following fellow LSU All American Jackie White. Walker was a basketball star at Garfield High School in Seattle in the late 1970s. As a senior in 1980, she averaged over 35 points per game, and set still-existent Washington State tournament records of 40 points, 17 field goals (twice), and 33 field goal attempts in a single game in route to a state championship, netting the still-existent single tournament records of 96 field goals attempted, 49 field goals made, 114 points scored, and 38 average points per game as well. When combined with her performance in the 1977 tournament she set the still-existent record career tournament average of 26.8 points per game. Her dominance landed her a place in the National High School Hall of Fame and the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Hall of Fame. She is considered by many to be the best female basketball player from Washington. Walker was named to represent the USA at the 1981 William Jones Cup competition in Taipei, Taiwan. Walker played on the 1983 World University games team as the leading scorer for the team, averaging almost 14 points per game, and helped the team win the gold medal. In the early 1980s, Walker played at Louisiana State University on coach Sue Gunter's first Lady Tigers team, averaging nearly 25 points a game and leading the team in scoring and steals all four years. Walker still holds the all-time NCAA women's career record of 1259 field goals. She also still holds LSU career records of 2906 points, and 2238 attempts. A two-time All-American, she is in the Louisiana State Hall of Fame. After stints playing professional basketball in Italy and Germany, Walker joined the Globetrotters, following the trailblazing Woodard and White by a mere three weeks. She coached the girls' basketball team at Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington. Her early years battling the dominant (at the time) cross-town rival Roosevelt High School team are partially chronicled (with interviews) in the 2005 documentary film The Heart of the Game. The Garfield team won the state 4A championship in 2005. She has coached the JV team and was the assistant varsity coach at Kingston High School in Kingston, Washington. She currently works at Highline High School in Burien, WA and remains very active in community outreach endeavors for youth and her nonprofit organization, ReJoyce Fundamentals Academy, teaching Stem Programs and Basketball Science Camps during the summer.

Elaine Irons-Hunt

Elaine Irons-Hunt, RN, MSN was born and raised in Lima, Ohio. She relocated to Seattle, WA in 2000. She has been a Registered Nurse for over 30 years. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Wright State University in Dayton, OH and Master’s Degree in Advanced Psychiatric Nursing from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. She also completed Parish Nurse training at Pacific Lutheran University in Seattle. Elaine has worked in areas of mental health, substance abuse/addictions, corrections, public health, School Nursing and Nursing Education. She began working at Highline College in September 2014. She is Tenured Nursing Faculty for Highline College’s Registered Nursing Program. Elaine is married, a foster-to-adopt parent and she and her husband, Luther, have of a blended family of seven children. Elaine is an ordained Elder in ministry, active in community outreach for health and wholeness connecting and educating concerning the spiritual and natural realms. She served as the Faith House Nurse and Director of Health Ministry at Paradise of Praise Ministries in West Seattle, WA for several years. She is a member of Mary Mahoney Professional Nursing Organization, a board member of African American Reach and Teach Health Ministry (AARTH), American Heart Association Faculty, and Chair of the Puget Sound Skills Center Certified Nursing Assistant Advisory Council. Elaine is also the founder of a home and community based, non-denominational ministry under development geared at meeting, embracing and educating people where they “are.” Elaine has presented at conferences, plays, radio and was a guest speaker on Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN) for televised segments in 2016 and 2017 on topics of mental health, women’s health issues and challenges of older adults.

Stephanie Ojeda Espinoza

Stephanie was born in East Los Angeles, California, and raised in Bakersfield, California where she completed her B.A. and M.A. in English at California State University Bakersfield. After completing her M.A. and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Writing, she moved to the San Francisco area to pursue her teaching career in higher education. In 2014, Stephanie moved from California to Washington for a tenured teaching position in the English department at Highline College. Stephanie has worked in various student outreach programs, such as the Umoja learning community and is currently co-coordinating the Puente program at Highline College. Stephanie identifies as Salvadoreña, Mexicana, and American. Stephanie’s passion is improving educational access and equity for students and educators.

Sarah Gray

Born and raised in Tacoma, WA, the six child of fourteen children. Passionate about helping people accomplish far more than they ever thought was possible. It is important for me to be in a career that was worthwhile, fulfilling, promotes independence, and adds value to human life. Sarah’s educational background includes a BS in Human Resource and Business Management and a MA in Business from the University of Phoenix. She’s a certified Transformational Life Coach from the Seattle Life Coach Institute. “Your choices not your circumstance determines your success”.

Wei Peng

Dr. Wei Peng received her Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China in 2010. Then she earned her Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL in the year 2015. She received her EIT certificate in the year 2013. She has been doing interdisciplinary research in the area combining engineering and atmospheric science. Her specialized area is in developing various climatic models to capture carbon footprint and quantify carbon exchange over heterogeneous agricultural landscape. She now is the engineering department coordinator at Highline College. She is passionate in teaching and inspiring students to be leading engineers in their future!

Sara Marie Ortiz

Sara Marie Ortiz (Pueblo of Acoma) is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts and Antioch University Los Angeles' MFA program with a focus in creative nonfiction. She’s formally studied law, Indigenous education, global self-determination in Indigenous communities, journalism, radio, theater, critical theory, and film. Ms. Ortiz has worked in the realm of Native arts, education, and culture advocacy from her first days as a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts to present day, publishing widely, and also presenting widely at tribal schools, tribal colleges, conferences, universities, cultural centers, and community hubs from New Mexico to Johannesburg South Africa. Some of her proudest accomplishments include her time serving as the Program Assistant to the Santa Fe Indian School Spoken Word Team which was featured on Brave New Voices Def Poetry by Russell Simmons on HBO and traveling to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland to participate in the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Sara Marie Ortiz currently calls Burien, Washington home, is a Board member of the Washington Indian Education Association, and is the Native Education Program Manager for Highline Public Schools.

Gerry Ebalaroza-Tunnell

Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii Gerry Ebalaroza-Tunnell, MA understands the struggle of being a woman of color and growing up within an impoverished family. She is a dynamic speaker and educator who empowers young girls and women to develop the confidence and courage to be leaders and change-makers in their communities. She is the Principal Consultant of Co-3 Consulting: Co-Creating Cohesive Communities, a graduate from Antioch University’s Masters in Whole Systems Design, and a Ph.D. Student in Transformative Studies and Consciousness through the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Mary MacLean

Education: Master’s in Education with special certificates in ELL and Educational Administration

Jamicka Edwards

Jamicka was born and raised in the south suburb of Chicago, IL. After graduating from high school, she attended college for a year then joined the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Lewis – now called Joint Base Lewis McChord. She has her bachelor’s in Business Administration from Northwest University and has more than 20 years of experience in finance, administration, public service, and customer service. She is currently working for the Department of Veterans Affairs. She herself is a Veteran of the United States Army and enjoys the ability to help others who have served. Jamicka is also is a motivational speaker, a dedicated mother of 3 boys, and a competitive athlete.

Chelsey Richardson

Chelsey Richardson, a Seattle native believes that poetry lives everywhere. Her writing is influenced by but not limited to race, politics, and motherhood. In October 2007 she had the honor of winning The Gwendolyn Brooks poetry Slam at Chicago State University. In 2007, 2011 and 2016 she earned a spot on the First Women’s National Poetry Slam team stage to compete against some of Seattle’s greatest female poets. She has been published in Intersections, the University of Washington's interdisciplinary journal. In 2015 her writing was selected for 4Culture's poetry competition Poetry on the Bus. She also performed at Poetry on the Bus' 2015 unveiling of contests winners works. She was nominated by the CD Forum as a Seattle Poet Populist candidate in 2008 this said this about her, “Her writing requires you to think critically and examine the world in which we live. She is a writer that truly represents independent poetic expression. There is a cleverness and creativity in her prose that draws the reader or listener in. She is an amazing teaching artist and mentor in Seattle who is poised for a dynamic career.” – CD Forum for Arts and Ideas. She has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington and currently works as an educator at Nova Alternative High School where she facilitates a poetry committee, Naked Truth a performance group that combats stereotypes through Spoken word and mentors for the youth writing/spoken word organization Youth Speaks.

Sharon A. Rivera-Carro, Ph.D.

I am the MESA Director (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) at Highline College. I received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from SUNY Purchase College in 2003 and my Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 2008 from Syracuse University. My goal is for students to achieve their highest potential. A first generation college student, I navigated much of the academic world with little help from my parents. My mother is French and German and my father is Puerto Rican.

Keonna Jackson

Keonna Jackson The Coach: is committed to transforming lives by helping her clients uncover what blocks them from making their dreams a reality. She believes we are unlimited in our ability to accomplish our goals and she looks for opportunities to walk along side of you to see, point out and guide you towards those possibilities until you see them for yourself. She primary uses fitness to empower, inspire and motivate her clients to M.O.V.E into the body & life THEY desire!! Keonna Jackson The HR Consultant: is a multi-passionate Human Resources consultant for small to medium sized companies, with the unique skill of advocating for both the employer and employee. With over 15 years of human resources expertise, she is your strategic and tactical HR solutions business partner. She works with leadership to streamline HR administration, as well as provide solutions to ensure the mission, vision, and goals of the organization are met by applying fair and equitable practices.

Jean Miller-Aikens

I'm a Regional Director of Sales for an e-Learning company, Achieve3000. We support school districts scaffold literacy for all students. With the goal of students reaching their highest educational possibility and be career and college ready. Our mission is to close the Aspiration Gap, the difference in an 8th graders aspiration to go to college (95%) and the 37% who are college/career ready at high school graduation. I'm a career sales person. The solutions that I have represented for the majority of my career have been academic software programs. I have a B.S. in Social Work from Arizona State University and certification from the Executive Leadership Program, Seattle University

Ciera Graham, Ph.D.

Ciera Graham is the Associate Director of Student Affairs at Washington State University-Everett. Ciera has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, and a Master of Arts in Counseling from Washington State University (Pullman), and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Cincinnati. Ciera is proud of her accomplishment, as she is a first generation college student. She has over five years of student affairs/higher education experience in the following areas: career services, multicultural student services, admissions and recruitment, and student conduct. Her work right now at Washington State University allows her to work in these areas, while building programs that help meet the needs of diverse college students. She enjoys community involvement and engagement, and she loves empowering and motivating youth, especially those who come from historically disadvantaged and marginalized backgrounds. She has led career development workshops at the Everett Community College Youth Development Program, and the Future Leaders of the World Summer Camp held here in Everett, a program designed to promote the personal, professional, and social development of young high school women of color. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, shopping, hiking, and she is really into the arts, so spoken word/poetry, visiting art museums, dance and interior design really excite her.

Kajhyla Washington

My mother is Caucasian, and my dad is African American. As a result, I struggled very early on in personally identifying with one or the other, as I do not fit in either one exclusively. In many ways, society identifies me as African American woman, which has given shape to many of my experiences throughout my life. I am the youngest child of seven biological siblings, with an additional six brothers that are part of my "extended family". I am a first generation college student, and the first of any of my siblings to receive a college degree. I graduated from Highline in 2012 with an AAS in Paralegal Studies, and an AA for Direct Transfer. I am currently pursuing my bachelor’s degree from Central Washington University while working full-time for the Seattle Police Department in the Office of Professional Accountability, and part-time at a restaurant in Ballard. My next step is to further my education into a graduate program to pursue my JD and MBA in Public Policy. I would eventually like to have direct bearing on Public Policy as it relates to building social equity in underrepresented communities.

Alyssa Pizarro

Alyssa is a native New Yorker who worked for 10 years for several fashion companies in their corporate headquarters, culminating in a Sales Director position at Ralph Lauren before deciding to move to Seattle in 2013 to pursue her passion for yoga. It was an intensive training in Seattle with Off the Mat, Into the World (OTM) that opened her up to the world of service and yoga and also where she was introduced to Yoga Behind Bars. With social and racial justice becoming her renewed passion though these conversations, Alyssa knew this was her calling. Alyssa has a BS in Women’s Studies and Anthropology from SUNY at Albany and she received her 200hr Certification from Africa Yoga Project in Nairobi, Kenya which also has a focus on yoga and community projects. When Alyssa returned to Seattle, she was driven to bring yoga to as many populations as possible and taught yoga for a year to homeless youth and chair yoga to adults. Alyssa has attended several social justice trainings with OTM and has assisted in an OTM training in Colorado in August 2016. Alyssa is currently at her dream job as the Development Coordinator at Yoga Behind Bars, teaches yoga around the city and at a Juvenile Detention Center in Tacoma. Alyssa assists in the Race and Social Justice portion of the training with Yoga Behind Bars, and is a member of the YBB Race and Social Justice Committee. While yoga and seva are her passions, Alyssa also enjoys delicious food, reading, running and spending time with friends and family.

Amina Ibrahim

Hello my name is Amina! I am a second year student at Seattle University majoring in Journalism. I was born and raised in South Seattle. In my free time I enjoying reading, baking, spending time with my family, and being involved in social justice work. I hope to one day become a broadcast journalist and become a role model for other young women of color.

Blossom Caballero

My name is Blossom M. Caballero, and I am currently a Customer Service Assistant with a Major Airlines here in Seattle. Through out my journey in life I have always dedicated my time to the Hospitality Industry, whether it was being employed or volunteering! My Passions are Polynesian Dancing, which I have done through out my life time and Outrigger Paddling, which I also volunteer as a Keiki Coach (children's) and an Assistant Women's Coach. Working with a Major Airline Company has allowed me the opportunity to grow and experience much more in life! Much Aloha, Blossom

Sarina Tung

Hi, my name is Sarina and I grew up in Federal Way Washington and moved the Bellingham for Western Washington University. Briefly a Kinesiology major, I became interested in income and health inequality, and the epigenetics involved. I graduated with my Bachelors in Biocultural Anthropology with a Medical Anthropology emphasis and with a minor in Chemistry in Fall 2016. I am now serving the community as an AmeriCorps Member with United Way of King County where I am promoting financial health and stability across King County.

Shirley Lui

Shirley Lui is a current AmeriCorps member with the United Way of King County serving as a College Access Coordinator intern with the Puget Sound Educational Services District. She is a recent graduate of St. Olaf College majoring in Sociology/Anthropology and Race and Ethnic Studies. In addition, she is a first-generation college student and a TRIO alumni of the Student Support Services (SSS) program.

Elizabeth Sanchez

Hello my name is Elizabeth Sanchez and I’m currently an Academic Administrator and school leader for a public charter school in Washington State. I was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States with my family when I was 8 years old. I attended San Diego State University where I double majored in Criminal Justice Administration and Spanish. I also obtained a M.S from Mercy College and a M.Ed from Bank Street College of Education. My work experience includes being a college recruiter and program coordinator for the University of Florida and an School leader and Special Education Bilingual teacher for the New York City public school system.

Laura Escalona-Flores

I believe in respect and human rights. My goal in life is to support our communities to thrive. I am a bilingual Mexicana-Americana, the daughter of immigrant parents from Oaxaca. Born and raised in the PNW, growing up I worked in the fields picking berries and walnuts. I am the first in her family to complete college from Seattle University and received my Masters of Social Work from Loyola University Chicago. Currently I work as a licensed mental health therapist and am in love with my job at the Seattle World School.

Nisha Daniel

Nisha Daniel is a teacher in Seattle Public Schools. She holds a Masters in Teaching degree from Seattle University, as well as, Bachelors in Women’s studies from Washington State University (Go Cougs!). Her family is from the beautiful state of Kerala in the Southern region of India. In 2008 she started working at the YWCA GirlsFirst program where she became a mentor to 3 young girls and 8 years later she is still their mentor! In her spare time she is an active volunteer with the American Cancer Society and her own Kerala community here in Washington. She also loves to play her guitar and sing for her many friends all around the country!

Tsewone Melaku

My name is Tsewone (pronounced tsee-yon) Melaku and I’m a senior at the University of Washington majoring in Human Centered Design & Engineering with a minor in Education, Learning, & Society. My parents immigrated from Ethiopia about 25 years ago and I was born and raised in South King County, specifically Tukwila and South Seattle. I graduated from Chief Sealth High School in 2013 and plan to graduate from UW in June 2018. I am really passionate about social justice issues, specific to creating equitable classrooms and opportunities for students from underrepresented backgrounds. After graduating, I hope to work in the tech industry, receive two Master’s degrees, and eventually get my PhD.

Tanya Powers

Tanya Powers (MPA) is mixed heritage St. Lawrence Island/Siberian Yupik and Irish. She received her Bachelor and Master of Public Administration at Seattle University and her Associate of Arts degree at Seattle Central College as a first generation college student. Tanya has spent most of her career in higher education with a focus on working with low income students first at Seattle Central College and now at Highline College. She is interested in access and retention for under-represented students in higher education. She is also the mother of two strong daughters. Kelsey is a sophomore at Georgetown University and Morgayne is a sophomore in high school with a passion for junior roller derby.

Vhonda McElroy

My name is Vhonda McElroy and I hail from Tacoma Washington. I graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Comparative Ethnic Studies, minoring in Womens Studies. I currently work at the Client Relationship Management System Administrator for the Seattle Community Colleges District. I am a mother, an education advocate, and a black feminist. I believe that everything I do, everything that I experience and have experienced has led me to be immensely passionate about freeing black and brown people. Since I was young I have participated in marches, rallies and strikes. As a mother, my focus has shifted to immersing myself in institutions to shed light and make a space for us, by us. I come from a line of union men and women, educators, pastors, and hood stars. I stand on their shoulders and I expect you all to stand on mine. My story is my story, but I hope that the efforts that I put forth will make your stories heard.

Courtney Hernandez

Hi, my name is Courtney Hernandez. I am from a small town in Eastern Washington called Selah. I graduated from Selah High School, and then attended the University of Washington. I majored in Social Work and American Ethnic Studies, and minored in Diversity. During my time there I studied abroad in Ghana and Costa Rica, conducted research, and worked with the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity. I am heading to graduate school this summer to get a Masters in Teaching. In my spare time I play the guitar, sing, read, watch movies and shows and spend time with my family and friends. I also enjoy traveling and sports.

Aaliyah Freeman

My name is Aaliyah Freeman. I was born in California and raised in Georgia. I have recently moved to Tacoma, Washington to start my freshman year in college and help my family with our new addition. I enjoy to take pictures, ceramics, write poetry, shop, explore the town, and binge watch my favorite shows. My professional goal is to become an accountant at Ernst & Young and my dream is to open my own pet supply/grooming/boarding business.

Jessica Lum

Jessica Lum is a reference and instruction librarian at Highline College. She earned her Master's in Library and Information Science with a special interest in Asian American and Native Hawaiian information resources from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Before moving to Seattle, she worked at the University of Hawaiʻi Library and Kapiʻolani Community College Library in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. Her professional interests revolve around empowering underrepresented students and exploring ways in which race, ethnicity, and culture affect the way we interact with libraries.

Lamia Barrington

My name is Lamia Haddadi Barrington, born and raised in Algiers, Algeria for the first 13 years then moved to Seattle, Washington with my parents and 3 younger siblings. I speak French, Arabic, English and Berber. I attended Seattle University from 2003-2007, where I majored in political science. I was very active on campus as VP of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and then later President. I was also an OMA mentor for 2 years. I built many strong friendships over the four years at Seattle University and a year after I graduated, I married my best friend whom I met at our first math class freshman year. Today, we have two beautiful girls, Aaliyah (6) and Laylah (3). I started my career at Perkins Coie LLP, a law firm in Seattle in 2007. I worked there for over five years as a legal secretary/paralegal in the immigration department. While contemplating whether or not to go to law school, I found contract management, my dream career. Today, with over five years just in contract management, I work for a software company where I negotiate all types of different agreements on behalf of the company. My experience includes working for a few software companies and a pharmaceutical company since I graduated Seattle University almost ten years ago. In addition to being a wife and a working mom, I volunteer as a Wish Grantor for the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Greater Seattle. An awesome organization that's making a huge difference in many children's lives. Personally, I love cooking, running, rooting for my favorite sports teams (huge Seattle sports fan) and spending time with my family.

Veronica Very

Veronica Very is a Seattle native with more than twenty years of local, national and international professional experience designing and directing events and programs. Veronica has established an impressive career that intersects hospitality, politics, entertainment and beauty. Corporations such as Starwood Hotels & Resorts; Nordstrom, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, MAC Cosmetics and Stellar International Networks have all benefited from her creative project, branding and business management expertise. Veronica has been seen organizing global women leadership conferences for Stellar International Networks; managing special VIP brand relations at W Los Angeles Hotel; arranging high level logistics for various celebrities and political figures; growing and positioning small companies into large and managing million dollar cosmetic businesses in Seattle, Los Angeles and Washington, DC area markets. Highlighted events include key organizer for President Barack Obama's Re-election Luncheon at the Seattle Paramount Theater in 2011; Stellar Women Leadership Delegations to China for 2006, 2008, 2011; organizing C200’s Pacific Northwest Conference in 2010 and Seattle Sweden Week featuring Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria. In March 2016, Veronica organized and launched a global movement called Wonder of Women to inspire women and girls to find their voice; stand in their truth and celebrate their wonder by telling their story. Wonder of Women events have been held in Seattle, Washington DC and Johannesburg, South Africa. Veronica’s dedication to excellence and enthusiasm is infectious. She embraces the beauty of diversity and leads through collaboration.

Phuong Tran

Parents immigrated from Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Grew up in Yesler Terrace, central district Seattle, Surrounded by gangs and drugs in neighborhood Became very independent at a young age Parents separated at the age of 7, witnessed physical abuse with Mom and Dad. Dad moved out, Mom took older sister and I to Renton, hoping sister and I behaved better. K-12 attended high poverty, diverse, urban public schools. Rebellious, reckless behaviors grades 7-10. Sister drops out of high school at the age of 16. Grades 11-12 snapped out of it and took school more seriously. Graduated with honors and cum gpa of 3.8. First high school graduate in immediate family. Rewarded 2 scholarships and full-ride scholarship to UW. Double majored at UW with BA in Psychology and Sociology (2008). First generation college graduate Masters in Teaching at UW (2010) 9 years so far in education Taught grades 1,4/5, and 6 for 8 years National Board certified in LA (2015) Masters in Guidance Counseling at City U (2016) Counselor intern at Sylvester Middle School Current 9th grade counselor at Mount Rainier High School Member of district’s crisis response team Building lead for Forefront Suicide Prevention program Goal in 4-5 years: admin to help serve our underrepresented students of color, help close the achievement gap, advocator of equality and equity

Martha Molina

Martha Molina’s passion for advancing Latinos in higher education lead her to her work to mentor Latina students. Being a first generation immigrant, she quickly learned that being a traditional good student would not be enough in her efforts to earn a Bachelors Degree one day. Martha and her family immigrated to the United States from Guatemala in 1989. They first resided in Los Angeles and experienced the L.A. Riots as a child in 1992, as well as Proposition 187, one of the contemporary racially charged laws that intended to exclude immigrants from access to health care and K-12 Education. In 1995, her family found refuge in Seattle, WA and for the first time in her life, was a student in an integrated classroom. Los Angeles schools did not begin full efforts toward racial integration until 1994. In 2008, she graduated from the University of Washington earning a degree in Political Science, Political Theory emphasis and a minor in Spanish. Previously, she completed her AA at Highline Community College, where she was a writer and editor for the Thunderword. Martha stumbled into a career as a Workers Compensation Professional after graduating from the University of Washington. She volunteered as a scholarship mentor for the Miss Hispanic Seafair program for over 10 years. When she is not conquering the world of workers comp for Seattle City Light, Martha enjoys attending sporting events with her husband Mario Magallanes and long walks with her 3 year-old Chihuahua, Buttercup.

Adaurennaya C. Onyewuenyi

Adaurennaya C. Onyewuenyi is 4th year Doctoral Candidate in the College of Education at the University of Washington, Seattle. She is currently the RA and co-instructor for the Graduate School’s contribution to the Race and Equity Initiative. In addition to teaching and TAing various undergraduate and graduate courses in education, psychology, and sociology, she has also provided trainings and workshops for university personal and K-12 teachers on Implicit Bias, Microaggressions, and Power, Privilege, and Oppression.

Alessandra Gonzales

Alessandra Gonzales | She/Her Pronouns | First Generation Filipina I’m a Fourth Year at Seattle University; majoring in Business Management w/ Entrepreneurship & Public Affair Minors. I have an interest with providing services for low income communities to help with their future success and to one day have my own Filipino Cafe. For three years, I was a D1 College Track and Field Athlete. Currently, I’m the Event Coordinator at Hing Hay Coworks, an Adult Ally for Powerful Voices, and the Cultural Awareness & Female Empowerment Chairs for the Sisterhood of Pi Nu Iota, which is a Filipina-interest sisterhood between University of Washington and Seattle University. I have a deep interest in learning about different cultures so I’ve always been volunteering for major cultural events on my campus.

Hilary Edwards

Hilary Edwards | She/Her/Hers Pronouns | Native American. Hilary is in her last quarter at Seattle University, majoring in Business Management and minoring in Entrepreneurship. She is from the Swinomish Tribe located in La Conner, Washington. For the last two summers, she has interned with her tribe’s casino and lodge, and golf course. After undergraduate school, she plans on working with a tribe in southern California to learn the necessary tools needed to bring back to her community. Hilary plans on attending graduate school to master in business administration while in California. In ten years, Hilary sees herself serving her people of the Swinomish community. She is very involved in various roles on campus, such as the President of the First Nations club, Academic Advisory Chair of the Costco Scholars Leadership Advisory Board and a Peer Mentor for the Connections Leadership Program. Today, Hilary believes that it’s essential to invest in young leaders so they can later have the necessary resources to give back to their communities.

Tremaine Frazier-Stanley

Tremaine Frazier-Stanley is a dedicated and passionate educator who works to provide equal access to education as well as higher education for all students. One of her life missions is to inspire and empower students of color and young women to become the best people they can be and to become men and women of strength. She wants to help transform educational statistics for underrepresented populations. She spent the last 4 years in education cultivating and engaging students academically, socially, and emotionally through various supports to help students graduate from high school, college and succeed in life. She is a proud Alumna of Washington State University, and was the first in her family to attend and graduate college with a Bachelor’s Degree. She obtained her degree in Criminal Justice with a double minor in Political Science and Women’s Studies. She continues her work as a College Preparatory Advisor with the College Success Foundation.

Lien-Wei Ford

Lien-Wei Ford, born NC, raised in Sea WA. BA in Public Administration. Has been working for the WA DOC since 2004. Began as a Temp Office Assistant Lead, hired full time as a Sec Senior, then promoted to a Community Corrections Officer and worked in a Work Release and Field Office setting. Recently promoted to a Hearing Officer 3.

Diana Tran Nguyen

Diana Tran Nguyen. I am the eldest of four girls and my parents are Vietnamese immigrants. I am currently a sophomore at Seattle University studying to obtain a Bachelor's of Art in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting. I chose accounting because I love numbers and working with people. I was born and raised in Seattle. I work at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the epidemiology research. In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with family and friends, enjoying the beauty of nature and photography.

Mandy Kwan

Mandy Kwan graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont last May where she majored in Spanish and minored in Psychology. She is from Beacon Hill and attended Garfield High School. Throughout her high school career, she participated in programs that allowed her to explore various interests and supported her as she navigated life, such as the unchartered territory of college and work. She believes that the positive role models and fulfillment of her curiosities equipped her with experiences that helped her develop her own sense of self as a high school student. To this day, Mandy still credits her lifelong curiosity of the world and passion for learning in and out of the classroom as the impetuses to many of her experiences. During her senior year at Middlebury College, she saw and experienced how stressful and nerve wracking it could feel finding a job after college. Listening to her curiosity she wondered, “What is it like to be on the other side of the job hunt?” Currently, she is gaining exposure to exactly that at Zillow. Mandy is glad you are here and wishes that this Young Educated Ladies Leading Female Summit existed when she was in high school. After all, who wouldn’t want to celebrate all of the young women of color who will be leading our future communities all under one roof?

Leilanna Barrientes

I am currently a union operating engineer in the construction field. I have come from a tough past and enjoy talking to other young women that may have faced the same obstacles that I did. I became a mother at a young age face legal issues and many other issues that we as women face. I am fairly new to speaking but most recently was a guest speaker at the EmPower Women's Leadership Conference that was recently held. I also volunteer with my union as well as a program called ANEW which focuses on empowering and training women in apprenticeship and non-traditional employment. I have so much more to tell but not sure how in depth I should go. I am open to answering any questions about myself.

Ida McRae

Ida McRae, MSW LSWAIC is a social work professional and travel enthusiast dedicated to social equity, community development, and lifelong learning. Her family background and participation as a youth in several non-profit organizations such as Seattle Young People's Project, One World Now!, and Global Visionaries ignited her passion for justice, intercultural communication, and community organizing. Graduating with a BA in International Studies from the University of Washington, Ida spent the majority of her undergraduate experience traveling the world to over 10 countries studying public health, Spanish, Portuguese, Race and Culture studies. Accepted into the Institute for International Public Policy fellowship, Ida took graduate courses in public policy and after graduation spent two years working in marketing and outreach within the healthcare industry before returning to graduate school at the UW School of Social Work to pursue a MSW. Currently, Ida works as a youth mental health counselor and is pursuing her independent clinical social work license. Through her social work practice, Ida strives to give back to her community, destigmatize mental health for communities of color and Muslim families, and provide culturally competent services that foster healing and community preservation.

Maria Toloza- Meza

Maria Toloza- Meza is from a family of 11 members ( 6 sister and 3 brothers + parents). Her family imigrated from Guadalajara Jalisco, to the United States 20 years ago . She is a single mother of 2 children. She has the passion to help others and to advocate for those who are in need. Her favorite thing to do is to give back to the community by voluntering . She is involved in schools PTA’s( Policy Council), a childrens faith teacher at church, and gives young adults dance lessons. Beside being a single mother and trying to give back to the community. she is also persueing her dream of being an educated Women. She wants to becaome a police officer. She wants to be able to educate those who are uneducated about the law and how to protect their citizens rights.


Sui-Lan Ho'okano is from the Island of Hawaii. She has over 20 years of experience developing and facilitating cultural, environmental, and STEM educational programs and curriculum, including organizing outreach events with over 4000 participants, e.g. Earth day, OceanDay, Manowai O Hanakahi, and Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES). Sui-Lan current space is Green River College’s Outreach Department as a College Access Coach and Outreach Specialist. Sui-Lan has established strong relationships with students, co-workers, Muckelshoot tribal members, Auburn, Enumclaw, and Kent district school, as well as diverse populations and local community partners, e.g., Community in schools, College Bound, Kent Providers, among others. She currently serves on the leadership committee for UPRISE Peirce County Summit 2016 for Pacific Islanders; National Pacific American Leadership Institute (NAPALI); and Green River Diversity & Equity Council (GDEC), Muckleshoot Career & College Fair Committee. She earned a BA in Psychology and Political Science from the University Hawaii Hilo, with additional degrees in Administrative Justice and Environmental Studies, and she is able to communicate in Chinese, Spanish, Hawaiian, and a little German. Sui-Lan is committed to providing students and family’s information and access to resources in order to succeed in their academic journey. Sui-Lan continues to provide students the opportunity to explore cultures of others through workshops; advancing knowledge by understanding the interconnectedness of indigenous communities and responsible actions through historical stories and current movements.

Sabrina Lawton

Sabrina Lawton is a Transcendental Speaker, and Founder of Evolve To Love, a spiritual advising organization founded on the principle that “every problem has a spiritual solution.” Sabrina began public speaking seventeen years ago while working in leadership for multiple Fortune 500 companies including ADP, DirecTV, and Virgin America. Sabrina teaches the transformative power of Self-Love as she guides her audience deeply within themselves to discover their genius and their unique path to success. She has received countless testimonies about how individuals, marriages, families and organizations have evolved as a result of her work. Sabrina speaks with love, wisdom, understanding, and compassionate clarity about sexuality, race relations, and empowering “the least of these.” Her life was rooted in the painful experiences caused by such factors, yet she counts it all joy! God allowed these things to transpire so that she could make her mess her message! When you embody the intangible skill of self-love, you can transcend any experience. Book Sabrina today and accelerate your efforts to guide those you serve to a new and refreshing understanding of what it means to win in life!

Elizabeth Rangel

The oldest child, born in Klamath Falls, OR and raised by a single mother. She was uprooted out of her home state and moved to Nespelem, Washington in the middle of her freshman year in high school. While in high school she found a mentor, through the Upward Bound Program, that pushed her to find education as her way out of her abusive home life. As a first generation student, with many setbacks along the way, she persisted through her education while working full time. She attended Big Bend Community College the summer after graduating high school and then took almost a year off after receiving her Associates before going back to finish her Bachelors. She graduated from Central Washington University after many years of failures and hardships with a Bachelors in Art, a minor in Spanish and a beautiful little girl, she calls her greatest accomplishment. She has been working with students and in every level of education since attending CWU. She now works as an Admissions Advisor at Highline College. She has cultivate her career and her life around her passion of giving back to her community and helping students understand their full potential. One of her biggest dreams in her life was to make one difference in one person’s life. She has been blessed to see what can be done with high expectations, inspiration and persistence.

Missy Takahashi

Missy Takahashi works a member of the Clinical Research Team at Cardiac Dimensions, Inc. (CDI) in Kirkland, WA. CDI conducts international medical device clinical trials of the CARILLON® Mitral Contour System®, which treats functional mitral regurgitation in people suffering from heart failure. Missy earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Washington, with a special emphasis in cognitive neuroscience. She has worked for over 15 years on various academic and industry research projects in areas including: electrophysiology, clinical oncology, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, cognitive neurolinguistics, and child development. Missy lives with her POSLQ (Person of Opposite Sharing Living Quarters) of 10 years in Bellevue, Washington. In her spare time, she enjoys training and playing with her two German Shepherd puppies: Toph and Mako. She also likes to stay active by playing competitive dodgeball, swimming, and yoga.

Rocío Carrión

My name is Rocío Carrión and I have found that my purpose in life is to serve and inspire students. I have lived in this country for 24 years and I am still undocumented. However, I was one of the “lucky” ones to receive a work authorization permit through the DACA program. As an undocumented Latinx woman I struggled and I failed in some areas but I have learned to embrace every challenge, leading me to a happier life and becoming a stronger individual. My dream is to travel the world and take my organization to inspire youth wherever I go. I am the Director and Co-Founder of I AM Empowerment LLC. I have worked with a diverse student population over seven years. I have worked with elementary students to university students including special education students, first-generation college students and homeless youth in after-school programs, bilingual leadership programs, and college-readiness programs. I graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 2010. Today I own my own business and continue to work hard to fulfill my dream of traveling the world through I AM Empowerment by touching the lives of youth. I would not have made it this far in life without my mentors and family role-models.