Dr. Gregory Benner (Education)
Professor and Executive Director
University of Washington Tacoma, Center for Strong Schools
Greg is a person of faith, father of four wonderful children (ages 9, 12, 15, and 17), and devoted partner to his spouse, Kelly. His family is very active in school, sports, and community service activities. He serves in a leadership role in his faith community. He has spent his career focused on understanding and meeting the needs of underrepresented and marginalized youth, particularly those with mental health concerns. As a Professor and in his role as Executive Director of the Center for Strong Schools at the University of Washington Tacoma, he dreams, designs, and creates sustainable systems of support for youth and families. He co-founded and currently co-leads the Tacoma Whole Child Initiative. He also just launched the Leschi Whole Child Initiative, a decade-long sustainable change process with Chief Leschi Tribal Schools. As Professor at the University of Washington Tacoma in the School of Education, he prepares school teachers and administrators who serve students in Pierce County School Districts. He has also been instrumental in building the institution of UW Tacoma as the only public University in the South Puget Sound and as a highly-regarded urban-serving institution. Along with his partner, Kelly, Greg operates a small family-owned consulting business called Academic & Behavioral Consultation. In this capacity he provides training and coaching support on social and emotional learning practices to impacted communities and school districts across the state. Greg is rejuvenated as he spends time with family, provides community service, engages in his faith, works out (weightlifting, running, wrestling), communes with nature.
Frank Boykin, Jr. (Corporate)
Enterprise Account Manager
United Parcel Service
Employed with United Parcel Service for more than 20 years, Frank has a legacy of leadership and community service. Frank has managed and grown accounts for UPS, the world’s leader in logistics at the local, regional, and national level. He is currently responsible for the relationship with one of UPS’s largest Enterprise clients: Amazon. “I love being on the forefront of innovative ideas and solutions that offer the best options for prosperity and highest quality of life,” he said.
Frank has proven his commitment to community engagement in several ways, including his past service on the Northwest Leadership Foundation’s board and the board of Annie Wright School. He was also appointed by Governor Locke to WA’s Commission on African American Affairs. He stated, “I’m confident that my leadership skills, passion for community and my business savvy can help me engage with more people. I’m excited for that chance with ALF.”
John Cummings (Criminal Justice)
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office
John is a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney at the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office. He serves as a Class A trial attorney in the Special Assault Unit, which prosecutes crimes involving child victims. John is originally from Butte, Montana, and attended Gonzaga University (Go Zags!) and Seattle University Law School. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Rainbow Center, regularly tells stories at local storytelling events in Tacoma and Seattle, and attends St. Leo’s Catholic Church. John’s husband, Ross Hiranaga, manages a non-profit sanctuary for children who are entering the foster care system. John and Ross are exploring becoming foster parents and live in Tacoma.
Sandra Eliason (Politics and Government)
Chief Marketing and Development Officer
Metro Parks Tacoma
Sandra has had the wonderful opportunity to be exposed to different cultures and diversity all of her life – this is what feeds her enthusiasm to want to learn about every individuals story. Her Story began in Korea where she was born to a single mom and adopted by her American dad. She moved to the U.S. when she was six, then moved to Japan before her English was even mastered. Her mom taught her to be strong and instilled within her a sense of compassion for all people. In her current role at Metro Parks Tacoma, Sandra believes there are a lot of opportunities to serve the community. She also mentors “a little” through Big Brothers Big Sisters. Sandra and her husband of 32 years built their family through adoption and are proud parents of their Chinese daughter and a Pilipino-American son.
Katy Evans (Arts)
Assistant Executive Director, Engagement and Education
The Grand Cinema
Katy is a nonprofit executive and writer dedicated to supporting a just and creative Tacoma. As the Assistant Executive Director for Engagement and Education at The Grand Cinema, she collaborates and builds coalitions in order to cultivate a love of independent film and to support local creators and storytellers. She has lived and worked in Tacoma, Seattle, and Olympia since 1990 and has no intention of leaving the Northwest. She is an alum of The Evergreen State College, and built her experience in leadership at Metro Parks Tacoma, Spaceworks Tacoma, The W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory Foundation, the University of Puget Sound, Read 2 Me, and the Museum of Glass. Katy loves to read, write, eat, sing, and explore Tacoma, the world, and the Olympic Peninsula.
Geysar Gurbanov (Entrepreneur)
Argus Investment and Trading, LLC
Geysar was born in Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic and earned a law degree from Baku State University. From 2005-2006, he studied Administration of Law and Justice in the United States through the fellowship program of the U.S. Department of State. Before running for local elections in Azerbaijan, he was a director of the NATO Information Center. As a consultant, he advised the Council of the European Union in matters concerning human rights and political issues in Azerbaijan from 2008 to 2011. In 2013, he became a Rotary International Peace Fellow and received admission to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He obtained his master's degree from Duke-UNC Chapel Hill Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies (CSEEES) and a graduate certificate from Duke-UNC Center for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution. He researched communal violence and civil wars during his studies at Duke and Harvard. In 2017, Geysar started two businesses: Argus Investment & Trading LLC based in Washington State and Argus Logistics LLC based in Ohio. Currently, Geysar lives in Tacoma, Washington and serves his community via Rotary International and local nonprofits in Pierce County. In his free time, he publishes articles on immigration, religion, and politics. His writings have appeared in multiple national and local news outlets. He speaks English, Russian, Turkish, Polish, and Azerbaijani.
Dr. Joseph Huang (Healthcare)
Regional Primary Care Medical Director, MultiCare Medical Associates
MultiCare Health System
Joseph is the oldest son of Taiwanese immigrants, born in Michigan, and raised in Southern California. Joseph was inspired to pursue medicine for underserved populations based on his experience with the families of migrant and immigrant farm workers in his community, and worked with farm workers in Oregon for ten years as a clinician prior to moving on to a leadership position. Joseph’s family decided to move to the Puget Sound region to live closer to his wife’s family, and an opportunity presented itself to work for MultiCare in Tacoma. Joseph loves the community, its diversity, and all the natural beauty that surrounds it. Joseph and his wife are avid dragon boaters, and are actively involved in a local paddling club, which provides a source of community, exercise, competition, and a way to enjoy our beautiful waterways. Joseph is looking forward to this wonderful opportunity to grow as a person and a leader, and to become better connected with his community.
Sara Irish (Non-Profit/Community Activist)
Organizer and Parent Engagement Coordinator
Stand For Children
Sara was born and raised in Mexico, her father was Lebanese and mother from Spain. She is divorced and has three children ages 24, 23 and 13. Sara has been in Tacoma for 22 years and is involved in the community through boards and social justice causes. Women’s empowerment is her gem. Sara loves soccer—both watching her son and playing sometimes. Sara’s other passion is dancing, that never gets old. She wants to become and improve the version of herself, and be a role model for other Latinas.
Dr. Eric Jackson, Sr. (Religion)
Bethlehem Baptist Church
Eric is a native of Alexandria, Louisiana, and currently resides in University Place with his wife, Rev. Evette Jackson and one of two sons, 17-year-old Eric, II. Eric has served in several ministerial capacities such as associate minister, assistant pastor, youth pastor, and singles’ pastor. He was also the founding pastor of the Greater Heights Christian Church in Lithonia, Georgia, where he served for eight years. After leaving Georgia, he served as the senior pastor of the Gospel Congregation in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, while serving a tour of duty in Hawaii. Now, Eric serves as Senior Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Tacoma. Additionally, his ministry has reached abroad to include pilgrimages throughout Israel and missionary work in Haiti. In 2003, Eric earned a Master of Divinity degree (cum laude), with a concentration in Psychology of Religion and Pastoral Care and completed additional course work in Homiletics, at Morehouse School of Religion at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta. In 1992, he received a Bachelor degree in Computer Information Systems from the University of Louisiana. In May 2012, he earned a Doctor of Ministry degree (summa cum laude) at the ITC, where he specialized in Pastoral Counseling. Eric has spent over 32 years in the military – over 27 years as an officer. In 2008, he completed a tour of duty in Iraq. After leaving Iraq, he became an Army Chaplain and currently serves in the Army Reserve. Eric’s personal mission is to educate, empower, and encourage all people. Consequently, he has devoted his life to God’s service and people.
Tanisha Jumper (Politics and Government)
Interim Director, Media and Communications
City of Tacoma
Tanisha was born in Seattle and a is graduate of Steilacoom High School. Tanisha left Washington at 17 to attend Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, OH. Wilberforce is the first privately owned Historically Black College in the United States and the experience fundamentally changed her as a person. The lessons learned at Wilberforce set her on a course to public service. Tanisha has over 19 years of experience working with children and families and has loved every minute of it. Tanisha came back to Tacoma almost three years ago to manage the implementation of the City’s strategic plan, Tacoma 2025. She is currently the Interim Director of Media and Communication. In addition to work, Tanisha is the proud parent of three amazing children. Tanisha loves being home in Washington and is looking forward to doing great work here.
Dr. Kimberly Keith (Arts)
Kimberly was appointed Executive Director of Hilltop Artists in May, 2017; she is a Tacoma native who has worked in the arts and culture sector since 1992. Kimberly earned her PhD in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, researching how US and UK museum practitioners develop and engage diverse audiences in relation to disparate organizational cultures and strategic policies. She also holds a Master of Non-Profit Leadership from Seattle University and a BA from The Evergreen State College with a focus on art history and studio art. Kimberly worked in museums developing and delivering educational programs, most specifically for at-risk youth and diverse audiences, at the Children’s Museum of Seattle and the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. She is a former Trustee on the board of Black Cultural Archives in the Brixton area of south London, and served on its capital project board to raise 7 million pounds to build the UK’s first national black heritage center, which opened in July of 2014. She has curated many exhibitions of contemporary and archival photography, including Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience, 1950-1990s, which was the culminating activity of a seven-year collaborative project between Black Cultural Archives and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Kimberly serves on the Advisory Board and Bridge Builders Advocacy Group at Oasis Youth Center and is a weekly volunteer in Oasis’ drop in program.
Alicia Klein (Healthcare)
Health Center Manager
Alicia lived in Tacoma all of her life. Alicia graduated from The Evergreen State College Tacoma in 2005 and Chapman University in 2008 with Masters in Healthcare Administration. Alicia has worked in healthcare for 20 years. She is the mother of a sophomore in college. Alicia is a founder of the Tacoma Urban League Young Professionals and current President of the Tacoma Urban League Guild. She is a firm believer that healthcare should be a basic right for all humans, especially women!
Adalberto (A.J.) Losoya, Jr. (Corporate)
Senior Vice President, Regional Manager
A.J. is a new arrival to Tacoma having transferred with Columbia Bank (CB) in early 2017. A Senior Vice President and Regional Manager, his financial career began as a teller right out of college with a bank in Canby, Oregon that was later acquired by Columbia Bank. As the first in his family to complete high school and college, he has always been a vocal advocate and participant in local education, even being appointed to the Redmond School Board in Oregon. He was also Board President of the Latino Community Foundation.
Melissa Malott (Environmental)
Citizens for a Healthy Bay
Melissa Malott is the Executive Director of Citizens for a Healthy Bay, and she is relatively new to Tacoma, having moved here from Wisconsin in mid-2015. This is Melissa’s first gig as an Executive Director for an established organization, and it has been fascinating for her to step into this role as a newbie to this community, especially since Tacoma is growing and developing more. Outside of work, Melissa enjoys going to film festivals, fishing, and getting to the mountains.
Joe Martinez (Labor)
Joe is the Executive Director for CIERTO, a non-profit farmworker recruitment and training organization that recruits, trains and dispatches farmworkers to agricultural employers in Mexico and the United States. This is a comprehensive approach that creates additional value and quality throughout the agricultural supply chain-benefiting workers, growers, retailers and consumers alike. Previously, Joe was the International Labor Advocate/Mexico Program Director for United Farm Workers. He coordinated and directed all of the union’s activities in Mexico and assisted in coordinating the UFW’s international work directly under Erik Nicholson. Joe has worked closely with NGOs, the U.S. and foreign governments to address issues related to how farmworkers are recruited and dispatched to the U.S. and to establish labor agreements between Mexican State governments and the UFW. Joe has a B.A. in Political Science and Comparative History of Ideas from the University of Washington. He is based in Tacoma.
Matthew Martinez (Media)
Director of Content
KNKX Public Radio
Matt is the Director of Content for KNKX public radio, overseeing all editorial channels. Before KNKX, he spent 15 years as a producer at NPR in Washington, D.C producing and running shows like: All Things Considered, Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon, and The Bryant Park Project. A hiking trip to Mt. Rainier in 2011 inspired him to move to Tacoma, where he lives with his two dogs in the North End. Tacoma is the perfect basecamp for his hiking and trail running adventures. He serves on the Washington Trails Association’s Board of Directors. He graduated from Northern Arizona University with a BA in English.
Clark Mather (Politics and Government)
Community and Government Relations Manager
Tacoma Public Utilities
Clark serves as Community and Government Relations Manager for Tacoma Public Utilities. In that role, Clark and his team assist TPU with local, state, and federal relations for one of the largest and most diverse public utilities in the United States. Prior to joining TPU in 2012, Clark served for more than 11 combined years as a senior staff person for U.S. Representative Norm Dicks and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell. Clark is a graduate of Washington State University and a native of Spokane. Clark and his wife Alexandria live in Tacoma with their two dogs and enjoy traveling, golfing, and time with their friends.
Arron Neville Wilkins (Education)
Principal, Boze Elementary
Tacoma Public Schools
Arron finds it easiest to speak about himself in terms of the titles that bring him the most joy—he is a husband, father, and friend. Each occupies great importance in his life. Arron is proud of other accomplishments in his life, but not like these. He is blessed to be married to a beautiful soul, Shannon Wilkins. Somehow, persistence, humor, and sincerity convinced her to accept his hand in marriage and hold onto it after marriage. Together, they are raising four children—two girls and two boys. These children consume their thoughts, hopes, fears, and give them great laughter. Lastly, Arron has friendships that run deep, but loose enough to allow for room to breathe. He loves spending time with his friends because the time is marked by conviction, humor, and flexible thinking. As friends, they know what is core and what is not essential; therefore, the time spent together is not wasted on the superfluous.
Carrie Prudente Holden (Non-Profit)
President and Chief Executive Officer
Boys and Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound
Carrie was born and raised in Spanaway, graduated from Washington High School and earned a BA in Recreation and a BS in Environmental Studies: Experiential Education from Western Washington University. Together with her husband Greg she has three children Devon (24), Emily (9), and Tristan (6). Carrie has had the privilege to help young people build great futures during her 22-year tenure with Boys and Girls Clubs. She began as a Program Director at the Al Davies Branch in Tacoma and has served the local organization in a number of roles including Branch Director, Director of Program Services, Director of Operations and COO. Carrie took the opportunity to serve youth nationally and internationally during a five-year period of work with Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Today, Carrie holds the title of President/CEO with Boys and Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound. She supports the daily operations of 14 sites serving some 1,500 youth every day and almost 7,000 youth annually in Pierce, Kitsap and Mason Counties. When not working she can be found organizing field trips around the area with her kids and helping her mother check off items on her “bucket list” around the world.
Kathleen Simpson (Professional)
Chief Financial Officer
The Russell Family Foundation
Kathleen is the youngest of five children and daughter of Irish Immigrants. She has lived her entire life in Kitsap County and married to her husband, Garrett for 25 years. They have two children and a pack of three dogs. Kathleen has spent her career balancing family, community and professional development. She feels that we all have talents that we can share with our community and the talent she most enjoys sharing is her financial skills. Kathleen has participated on several non-profit boards, usually as the treasurer. Building community and connections are a high priority to her. When not working or volunteering, Kathleen enjoys spending time hiking with her family and dogs.
Dustin Stoker (Politics and Government)
Chief Operations Officer
The Northwest Seaport Alliance
Dustin, originally born in Oklahoma, is a native of Washington State growing up in Auburn from six months of age. Dustin graduated from Auburn Senior High and then attended and graduated from the University of Washington. He met his wife Callie in college and they were married in 1999 at their home church, St. Luke’s Lutheran in Federal Way. Dustin has worked in the Shipping Industry for over 18 years and currently serves as Chief Operations Officer for the NWSA. His career has allowed their family to work/live in Los Angeles, Holland, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Canada. He has three sons ages 9, 7 and 5 who were all born in different countries during their travels. His family has chosen to settle in Sumner, Washington where they plan to raise their children. Dustin remains active in service at their church and is passionately involved in CrossFit.
Noah Struthers (Non-Profit)
Noah is a bike mechanic, carpenter, community organizer, and artist from Tacoma. He grew up in the rural Gig Harbor area but has been living in Tacoma since 1999. Noah spent his formative years bouncing around; working various construction jobs, bike shops, odd jobs, and freelancing as an artist. He worked for REI for seven years as a bicycle mechanic, quality control auditor, and team leader. Noah is self-taught; he does not have a traditional academic background. Noah is the co-founder/Executive Director of Second Cycle Community Bicycle Shop. He has seen the organization through from a non-entity garage project to a healthy, vibrant, established non-profit organization with partners ranging from the Juvenile Court to Tacoma Public Schools. Noah continues to make art in his spare time; designing posters, creating material for the Second Cycle, and other personal projects. Noah is interested in communal ownership of property, equitable housing for all, active transportation, and using design to better our communities.
Megan Sukys (Media)
Vice President, Communications
Greater Tacoma Community Foundation
Megan agrees with Muriel Rukeyser that, "The Universe is made of stories not atoms." Growing up in the south, she steeped in the storytelling tradition and learned that stories have the power to both bind us to the past, and help us blaze a bright, new future. After a after a career in public radio, including 12 years at KUOW-NPR Seattle, Megan co-founded Tacoma's true-to-life storytelling stage show, Drunken Telegraph, and spent several years as an independent producer and story consultant. Prior to her radio career, Megan worked as an actor, stage manager, and fundraiser. Megan joined Greater Tacoma Community Foundation as Vice President of Communications in February 2017. A native of North Carolina and a graduate of The University of the South-Sewanee, Megan moved to Tacoma in 1999 seeking refuge from the ‘Y2K bug’ and ended up making it her home. She shares her home, the first community townhouses built in Tacoma, with her husband, son, daughter, three cats, and a stockpile of grits.
Lindsay Morgan Tracy (Non-Profit)
Vice President of Community Impact and Engagement
United Way of Pierce County
Tracy is the Vice President of Community Impact and Engagement at the United Way of Pierce County. Tracy is leading the agency’s shift from transactional work to transformational to quantify and qualify all of the impact work to break the cycle of poverty. Critical to this shift is the focus on continuous learning to improve systems. Tracy entered the workforce as a high school teacher. After teaching, she moved into college administration. During her tenure at the university, she served on the Colorado Governor's Commission on Community Service, the Denver Mayor's Office of Strategic Partnerships and became a founding board member for the Foundation for the Prevention of School Violence. Prior to moving to Washington in 2014, Tracy worked at the United Way in Denver overseeing a federal grant, which compared children/families receiving an intervention versus those who did not receive services. Her zeal for education and volunteerism commenced when she was 18 when a family member informed her "...philanthropy will get you nowhere." Tracy did not listen and volunteered to help start a camp for kids. The camp is now the largest national camp for children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. Tracy is busy outside of the classroom trying to learn new things and failing miserably at some. She cannot geocache to save her life. She can, however, make a mouthwatering loaf of artisan bread. Tracy is a mother of two boys who are always getting in and out of trouble.
Queena Tupou (Healthcare)
Marketing and Outreach Specialist
Carol Milgard Breast Center
Born and raised in Tacoma, Queena has been in healthcare marketing for over five years. She recently moved back to Western Washington after living in Cheney/Spokane for nine years where she attended Eastern Washington University and worked for a health system in Spokane. Queena currently oversees the Marketing and Outreach for the Carol Milgard Breast Center and assisted with the implementation of the breast center’s FaithHealth in Action program which is an outreach and education initiative that partners with the local African American churches in Tacoma. She also serves on the Executive Committee for the Leaders in Women’s Health and on the Diversity Advisory Committee for Harmony Hill. Queena met her husband Semisi Tupou (also known as Tupua) in his father’s church when they were in high school. They recently celebrated their union on their 11th anniversary and will soon celebrate their first year of marriage. They both come from strong faith backgrounds and enjoy spending time with their very large Samoan family.
Shellie Willis (Military/Labor)
Director of Quality Assurance and Certification
Shellie is a U.S. Army Retired Master Sergeant. She is the Director of Quality Assurance and Certification for WorkForce Central, a workforce development council, Associate Director on the Harborstone Credit Union Board, and is the CEO and Founder of Redefining Your Future, LLC and The Redefining You Foundation where she assists transitioning servicewomen, women veterans and military spouses to their NEXT. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Studies from the University of Maryland. She is a Certified Defense Financial Manager and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. Shellie is a wife and mother of two children. Shellie believes that being redefined means SHIFTING your lifestyle and perspective while embracing the next phase of life.