Meet the Board
Devon Alisa Abdallah, PhD, is a Pacific Northwest native of Lebanese descent on her father's side and a fourth generation Arab American. A community activist, Devon is a founding member and past secretary of the Arab American Community Coalition, a civil rights organization founded after September 11th, a past board member of the Japanese American Citizens League Seattle Chapter, an active member of the JACL's Civil Rights Committee, and a past Commission Member of the Iraqi Community Center. For the City of Seattle, Devon is an active board member on the Immigrant & Refugee Commission and a member of the Race and Social Justice Community Roundtable. She is also a former Community Organizer (2002-2003) for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington having worked primarily on civil rights issues related to the aftermath of September 11th. Devon has spoken on numerous panels, workshops and forums on civil rights and the Arab community since September 11th. Devon enjoys research, is a published author, and holds a masters degree from the London School of Economics as well as a PhD in Organizational Psychology from Alliant International University, California School of Organizational Studies. Her true passion is experiencing life through traveling and has traveled and lived throughout the world. Most recently, Devon visited Lebanon and her father's family's village - Serhel. She was the first Abdallah to visit in 3 generations.
Habtamu M. Abdi (B.A LLM), originally from Ethiopia, East Africa, is a young activist and a well-respected community leader among East African refugees and immigrants in Northwest. A social worker and community advocate, Habtamu is a founding member and program coordinator of The Center for East African Community Affairs (CEACA), a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization serving immigrants and refugees in Seattle. For the City of Seattle, Habtamu is an active board member on the Immigrant & Refugee Commission and a member of the Race and Social Justice Community Roundtable, a Public out Reach Engagement Liaison (POEL) with the Department of Neighborhoods. Habtamu holds two master degrees in Human Rights Law (From St. Thomas University in Miami Florida graduated with Cum laude) and a second master degree in Laws of International Sustainable Development from the University of Washington. Among his many awards as an advocate for human right are the 2006 best essay of the year from Pastoralists’ Concern Association Ethiopia (PCAE), the 2009 Siegfried Wiessner Human right Award from St. Thomas University in Miami, the Crouch-Kielsgard Human Rights Scholarship award winner of the year, First Place Arya Laghaie Human right award winner of the year in 2009 and William Gates Scholarship winner at the university of Washington School of Law in 2010.
Dori Cahn is a teacher, writer, and advocate working with immigrants and refugees. A native-born New Yorker, she grew up in an extended family of Eastern European immigrants. Her Master’s degree focused on environment and development in Latin America, which she later taught at the University of Washington and The Evergreen State College. Dori’s interest in community-based education led to teaching ESL and ABE at community colleges and community-based organizations in the Seattle area. While working with Cambodian refugee communities in the U.S. to challenge the deportation of former child refugees back to Cambodia, she helped start an organization in Phnom Penh to support the returnees there. She has lived and worked in Cambodia, and continues to travel there as an advisor and mentor at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Currently the owner of her own communications business, Dori has written extensively about immigrant and refugee issues, has developed exhibits with the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, and is currently working on a history of Pacific Northwest immigration for the former federal Immigration Building in Seattle.
Jeniffer Calleja, originally from Sinaloa, Mexico, has worked in social research and community development for over 10 years. Since moving to Seattle, she has worked on issues of health equity, employment and labor, and civic engagement with low income community members, a majority of whom are immigrants and refugees. She is passionate about empowering underrepresented individuals and communities to make their voices heard and participate in local decision-making processes from reporting a broken street light to pursuing complex policy changes. Currently, she works at Neighborhood House on a project to address health disparities in public housing communities. In this work, Jeniffer supported immigrant women requesting single gender swimming lessons at a local pool, resulting in the City of Seattle and two private pools adopting the program and improving access to health and water safety to hundreds of primarily immigrant women for whom co-ed swimming was not an alternative. Jeniffer holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Washington and B.A. in Government and Political Studies from the University of Guadalajara. Her free time is dedicated to walking Seattle beaches and hills, swimming, spending time with family and friends, and cooking.
Shree Ram Dahal came to the United States as a student and has lived in Seattle area since 1999. Due to personal experiences of living in different places and the desire to stay socially connected, Shree understands the difficulties immigrant and refugee communities go through during the process of adjustment in a new country. Actively involved with Nepal Seattle Society (NSS) and representing and advocating for a community of people of Nepali origin and friends of Nepal in Seattle area and Washington State, Shree is president of NSS. NSS regularly advise new members on various personal and social issues during their adjustment in the community. Through NSS Shree interacts with other communities in the region and is also a Board member of Association of Nepali in America and a regional Delegate to Non-Resident Nepali Association - America. Both of these organizations operate on national and international level to serve the interest of the people of Nepali origin.
Mohamed Sheikh Hassan, a long-standing leader in the community and founder and Director of Afrique Service Center in Rainier Valley, with the relationships and trust to bring the African immigrant and refugee communities to the table where their issues and concerns can be addressed and their talents can be shared. Mohamed has worked tirelessly to strengthen the base of immigrants and refugees in King County through community organizing, building grassroots leadership, and advocating for issues that are very important for resources within the community. Currently, Mohamed is a Community Jobs Program Coordinator assisting refugees from Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe in partnership with the Seattle Jobs Initiative, the program assists clients in obtaining employment, budgeting skills, and guidance for social issues related to immigration. Mohamed is multi-lingual in English, Somali, Arabic, and Swahili.
Simon Khin - Simon is one of the leaders of the fastest growing refugee populations in the US - that of Burma. Along with his family, he immigrated to the Seattle area in 1977 from Burma. He completed a BA in Architecture from University of Washington, BS in Electrical Engineering from Seattle Pacific University and Masters Certificate in Technology Management from City University. He is the Founder and President of Northwest Communities of Burma.
Since the late 90’s, Simon volunteered at refugee camps at Thai-Burma border and advocated for refugees even while working as a software engineer in the corporate world. He continues to serve his community by advocating for understanding between ethnic groups from Burma as well as with larger Seattle community. In July 2012, Simon was recognized for his work with refugee populations with the Spirit of Liberty award at the Fourth of July naturalization ceremony at the Seattle Center. In September 2012, he was honored to be personally invited by Burmese Nobel Peace Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for her Congressional Gold medal award ceremony at the Washington, DC Congressional Rotunda.
Mariya Kochubey - Mariya Kochubey earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Washington, and volunteered as a Russian to English interpreter with the Global Family Alliance for five years. During her time as a student she fundraised for and traveled to a rural community in Ecuador to help build homes. She currently works for Gryffin Solutions where she provides assistance in regards business and accounting consulting to entrepreneurs and businesses around the Puget Sound. Mariya immigrated to the United States from Ukraine as a young child, and watching her parents struggle to provide a better life for her greatly impacted her. It has made her passionate in bringing awareness to the needs and problems these communities face and helping other immigrants discover the opportunities and services available to them.
Michael T. Neguse is a trusted leader in the East African community and has worked in tandem with the City of Seattle on several projects related to housing, mental health and crime prevention. Michael is a community organizer working with all people in his community, whether it be mentoring at-risk youth, offering translation and facilitating conflict resolution among differing ethnic groups, or teaching English as a Second Language for seniors. Seattle Human Rights Day Award Winner of 2008, Michael also offers guidance for newly-arrived immigrants seeking employment and teaches U.S. Citizenship in Amharic and Tigrigna. Michael serves as Crime Prevention Coordinator with Seattle Police Department providing crime prevention and outreach services to Seattle's African immigrant communities, as well as to East African immigrants to provide information about crime prevention to parents and youth. He also recruits residents to participate in SPD's East African Advisory Council and with the African/African American Unity Group. Michael speaks many languages including Amharic, Tigrinya, Somali, and Arabic.
Roxana Norouzi has over a decade of experience in advocacy and social justice work with immigrant and refugee populations in the Seattle area. Currently, she provides strategic guidance around education policy and implementation for OneAmerica, an immigrant right’s organization serving Washington state. Her professional background includes working as an advocate for low-income families in Seattle and providing cultural competency trainings to public schools and community based organizations. Roxana serves on the board of the Children's Alliance as well as the Seattle Globalist. She holds a Master's Degree in Social Work from the University of Washington and in 2010 was awarded the Bonderman Fellowship which allowed her to travel independently to the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, East Africa, West Africa, and South America exploring identity shifts and migration trends in the developing world. Roxana is fluent in Farsi (Persian) and her experience as a first generation American informs her passion and commitment to justice and immigrant rights.
Maru Mora Villalpando, Latino Advocacy, LLC. Ms. Villalpando is a Latina immigrant organizer and consultant for non-profits working for racial justice. Ms. Villalpando is a trainer, political analyst for local Latino media outlets, speaker, and panelist on immigrant rights. She attended two Universities in Mexico and studied Computer Programming and Systems, Journalism, and Business Administration. Ms. Villalpando has conducted numerous bilingual and monolingual trainings throughout the State, ranging from basic community organizing 101, legal rights for undocumented workers, how the legislative process works, using local and national media outlets for community organizing, and developing long-term organizing strategies for social change. Ms. Villalpando organized a successful campaign in Snohomish County to ensure that interpretation for immigrants in two local hospitals is provided and lead the effort to defeat anti-immigrant bills in the 2011 State Legislative Session, she also founded and coordinated a statewide coalition that for second time will work in pro-active legislation for immigrant rights in the state. She recently coordinated a Latino voter registration in three counties, and help lead an educational campaign for equal marriage for gay and lesbian Latino couples as well as doing outreach for the Latino community in support of Referendum 74.
Tsegaba Woldehaimanot holds a Masters in Social Work degree from the University of Washington and has over seven years experience in the field of mental health, including working as a mental health therapist providing therapeutic services to children and adults. Tsegaba was born in Sudan where her family took refuge after fleeing their homeland of Eritrea because of war and violence. She and her family later migrated to America as refugees to make better lives for themselves. Witnessing first-hand the challenges faced by many refugees, Tsegaba has long been interested in issues of emotional distress in refugee populations, and how communities can best meet those needs. She is well-acquainted with both the local refugee community and community mental health system. Tsegaba currently works at Asian Counseling and Referral Service as the Outreach Coordinator for the Pathways to Wellness Project. She reaches out to various refugee communities to learn the emotional and mental needs of their members working to connect them to appropriate resources. She also connects with local mental health agencies interested in increasing their capacity to serve this community.