My name is Bernadette and I recently moved to Seattle from sunny California! I grew up in the Bay Area, studied Economics with a minor in Human and Community Development at UC Davis, and graduated a year early. After almost 2 years working at Amazon, I decided to transfer to Qualtrics where I work in recruiting. Outside my professional life, I'm very passionate about fashion and culture. I spent an unforgettable summer studying fashion marketing in Paris, traveled throughout Europe, and did runway modeling for local fashion shows. I'm a sucker for exploring vintage mom & pop coffee shops where I can explore the corners of my mind through blogging and reading. Extremely excited for my profound decision to tap into another creative art of expression through public speaking.
I am a South End born and raised, Khmer American daughter of a resilient refugee and political revolutionary—both of whom are survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia. Growing up in my parents’ household, I was instilled with the importance of pursuing knowledge for the purpose of transforming the world to become a better place for future generations to inhabit. As a young girl, my father would always pose the question, “What will you do for the benefit of all of us?” which was not simply limited to our family, but visioning the ripple effects of what global transformation could look like. My family would often tease me for explaining things so incredibly detailed for my age, that I would make a great teacher, although they did not want me to be a teacher! Many years later, after an arduous personal journey navigating the roadblocks of life and institutional barriers of higher education, I finally earned my baccalaureate degree in Political Science with Departmental Honors. It is worth noting that after my father died when I was eleven, my mother single-handedly raised me and put me through college, while continuing to work full-time and keep the house I was raised in.
When I started working at Rainier Beach High School as an Academic Mentoring Coach after college, I realized how similar my childhood story was to the students whom I served. My heart and my mind aligned to know that Rainier Beach was a place that I could find healing and closure in places I had suppressed, by being present for students who were experiencing the same challenges I did. I also fully understood for the first time how a lack of resources, whatever they may be, can create major obstacles to the actualization of one’s goals. It is because of my own personal and educational experiences that I was called to serve the high school students in my community of Rainier Beach, dedicating my time to making sure they had access to more resources and mentorship opportunities than I did.
As a local resident, anti-racist community organizer, and educator in the Rainier Valley, I am firmly rooted in the understanding that we must work together to empower our communities by way of transformative education and building intergenerational leadership--through our connection with young people. I believe we must raise up our young leaders and support them through their educational journey by providing them with resources and opportunities to attain their goals, so they may one day reciprocate the same support back to their respective communities. I have had the opportunity to reimagine what this could look like through my practice with developing and implementing interactive, culturally-infused curriculum and enrichment programming as a Servant Leader Educator at the Children’s Defense Fund summer Freedom School at Rainier Beach High School. In addition to facilitating critical social justice-centered dialogues, I am experienced with conflict resolution and implementing restorative practices to foster a safer and more equitable learning environment. My role as a Servant Leader Educator is to embody what it means to be a transformative agent of change, and empower the youth I work with to channel the education they receive to create innovative solutions to our worldly problems.
My mentorship role is not just limited to the schools, but is expanded to community outreach as well. As an Outreach Worker for the community grassroots organization, Rainier Beach Action Coalition, I work alongside a team of Youth Engagement Workers who live in the Rainier Valley and are active participants in making our community a more beautiful and safe place to live. In this role, I work to empower and build capacity in our youth, through our strategic planning and implementation of weekly community “Corner Greeter” events in five “hotspot” locations in the Rainier Beach Area, in addition to supporting the quarterly held Rainier Beach Town Hall meetings. More specifically, this role requires that I network and interface with community members, organizations, and government workers, to name a few.
As a deeply motivated self-starter, I am a passionate leader who loves working with young people and seeks to serve others first. Central to my values is modeling what it means to be a transformative social justice educator. As the Bailey Gatzert Success Coordinator, I devote my efforts into the personal and professional development of undergraduate volunteers and tutors to ensure they are equipped to serve children from diverse populations and life experiences, so they can educe the potential that is beaming within our young scholars. In this role, I am responsible for maintaining community partnerships between Seattle University and Bailey Gatzert, and provide powerful after school enrichment programming for scholars to build upon their academic and socio-emotional growth. Leading by example and encouraging a very dialectical environment to flourish are extremely important to me, as they are central tenets to the cohesiveness and fluidity of a team. I use my love and passion for transformative education as a platform for creating spaces where solution-oriented conversations can take place, and where people of all ages can truly feel that their voices and opinions matter.
I grew up in the streets of Seattle, WA, left home at 13 years old, bought my first car at 14, first apartment at 15 and had my first kid at 16, living the life of a hustler at a very early age.
When I registered my sons for football, I ended up coaching and watched the young men going through my program end up on the streets doing the same things I was doing at their age. I couldn't let them fall into the same traps so I started talking to them and mentoring them. Years later I became one of the co-founders of the 180 Program which keeps youth with misdemeanor charges out of the justice system. Now I am co-founder and executive director of Community Passageways which helps youth charged with felonies avoid entering the system. We also work in schools to eliminate expulsions and suspensions and offer opportunities for formerly incarcerated or gang-involved adults to serve as Community Ambassadors to help youth avoid the same mistakes they made when they were their age. I spent my life doing damage to my community and now I am spending my life healing the community.
Marcus Harden is currently a Student & Family Advocate at Interagency Academy. Marcus has worked for 15 years in Social Services & Education, his first year as an intern in the United States Senate for Hillary R. Clinton and the last 14 in various roles as a counselor, IB Outreach coordinator and leadership consultant. Marcus is a proud uncle, mentor and Seattle native, self-professed Mayor of the south end of Seattle & most of Skyway, resident Batman and proud alumni of Rainier Beach High School and the University of Washington. Marcus currently serves as a Student & Family Advocate focusing his work on creating better culture and climate for students, families & staff, restorative justice practices and Mindset & Resiliency as necessary skill sets for anyone in education. Marcus' aspiration is to help others tap into and find the greatness that lives inside of all of us and manifest it on their own journeys. Marcus sees himself as a servant leader and a life long learner. He is inspired by all of the lives he is honored to encounter, he believes he is but a shallow reflection of the lives he's encountered. His goal is to help change the world through education and empowerment, hopefully compete on a Gameshow and win, just to say he did it. His hobbies are reading, fellowshipping with friends, the gym, New Edition songs at Karaoke and mentoring youth.
I am a computer engineering and computer science student at Seattle University. I grew up in an inner city public school education system and never really had all of the tech or extra classes you see in some of the schools around here in Seattle. Last summer I became heavily involved in the local virtual reality scene. The way I became involved was through a hackathon centered around blending virtual reality and education. My team and I made an interactive story to help students learn sentence structure and grammar by actually living through and interacting with this world we made in virtual reality. We ended up winning the category for the best blend of virtual reality and learning. I have also been working at a middle school for over a year now, and the one thing that it very apparent is that everyone learns differently and that one of the most challenging aspects of teaching is keeping students engaged. I love teaching and I love technology, I believe that the two go hand in hand. Virtual reality is a way for me to combine those two passions, allowing me to create new avenues of learning to keep students engaged.
Raymonda C. Reese is a mental health clinician and a University of Washington School of Social Work graduate. As part of her advanced social work training, Raymonda was a research fellow in the school-sponsored, five-year Communities in Action initiative. In this role, she collected critical data for evidence-based programs designed to help prevent the social, academic and mental health problems among young people in Southeast and Central Seattle. She also collaborated with parents, students, and local school staff in the area to provide important social and academic support. Raymonda graduated from Carleton College in 2009 with a degree in African-American studies and a minor in education. Soon afterwards, she began work in The Schuler Scholar Program, which equips bright, motivated young people—typically first-general college-bound students of color from low-income families—with the support they need to gain access to and succeed at selective colleges and beyond. She later served as a research associate with the Spencer Foundation in Chicago, which invests in education research to improve public policy, practices and, ultimately, the student experience. Raymonda hopes to continue to build a career on her passion for improving the behavioral health of adolescents and building community capacity to address pressing social and educational issues facing today’s youth. In 2015, she was awarded the School’s National Leader in Behavioral Health Award.
I am a white, heterosexual, American, male who grew up in an upper class home with married, loving parents. These facts mean I am one of the most privileged people on the planet. I went to college and built a successful career working at places like Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Cingular. 11 years ago, however, I decided I wanted to work with opportunity youth. So I moved into the urban core, changed careers and went to work at a local community center. The work opened my eyes to the challenges that urban youth face just in order to survive, much less succeed. It was one of the best decisions of my life. Living on both sides of the racial and financial divide has given me a unique perspective on the issues African Americans face. The lessons I learned working with urban youth for seven years helped shape the mentorship program we launched in 2012, M.U.S.T. (Mentoring Urban Students and Teens). I live with my wife and four sons in the Rainier Valley. My ‘free’ time is gladly spent with my family, going to the kids basketball games, baseball games, piano practices and band performances.
Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Will left for Seattle in 2013 to pursue secondary education at Seattle University. Quickly falling in love with the city, he has not looked back since. A “jack of all trades”, Will bide his time working in the service industry as a janitor, cook, cashier, and dishwasher at various restaurants until he began to see better possibilities for himself. Never giving up, Will was able to spend his Freshman summer with the Sierra Service project, where he empowered youth and local homeowners in South Central Los Angeles, teaching youth to use power tools and make repairs for struggling homeowners who desperately needed expensive repairs they could not afford, all free of charge. He both planned and executed well over 50 jobs for the Los Angeles community that summer. Eventually, Will landed a teaching position at Bailey Gatzert elementary, where he works with underleveled english language learners after school to help them stay on track in their path to literacy. Always loyal, Will has maintained this position for four years now, and hopes to pursue a Master’s in education following his graduation later this year. Will most recently worked in partnership with the United Way of King County and the United States AmeriCorps in the “Fuel Your Future” summer meals program for underprivileged children in King County, where he coordinated and ran his own meal site at Peppi’s Playground in the Central District in Seattle, where he provided children with academic enrichment and free meals for the length of the summer. He earned an award for outstanding achievement from the United Way, City of Seattle, and Americorps for his service last year. In his free time, Will pursues a career as a musician.