Meet the Commissioners
Alex Becker works as a Community Organizer with Real Change, an economic justice organization and weekly newspaper sold by people who are low-income and homeless. Born and raised in the Chicago area, he received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from The Evergreen State College and served two years as a national service volunteer through AmeriCorps and VISTA in Seattle, WA. Since 2005 he has worked and volunteered with various nonprofit and public service organizations in Washington that work on issues such as housing and homelessness policy, criminal justice reform, environmental health, racial and economic justice, and labor rights. He has also participated in student and human rights delegations to Mexico and Nicaragua. He is honored to join the Commission to help advance human rights in the City of Seattle.
Katherine Beckett is Professor in the Law, Societies & Justice Program and the Department of Sociology, and Adjunct Professor in the School of Law, at the University of Washington in Seattle. She received her Ph.D. from UCLA’s Department of Sociology and has written extensively about the politics of punishment and social control. She is the author of three books, including Making Crime Pay: Law and Order in Contemporary American Politics (Oxford University Press, 1997) and, most recently, Banished: The New Social Control in Urban America (Oxford University Press 2010). She has also published numerous articles on a range of socio-legal topics such as mass incarceration, monetary sanctions, and racial disparities in drug law enforcement. She is currently studying policy efforts to reduce barriers to work and housing for people with criminal records and to lessen racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system.
Ethel Branch is a member of the Navajo Nation and an attorney at Kanji & Katzen, PLLC, a law firm solely committed to advocacy on behalf of Native Nations. Ethel advises and represents Native Nations on a variety of issues, with a focus on restoring tribal natural resources and shielding tribal revenues. Previously, Ethel was an attorney with the Indian Law Resource Center in Washington, D.C., where she helped advance the implementation of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States and the Americas. Her primary work consisted of raising awareness of the Declaration and ways to implement it among tribal leaders, legal professionals, and scientists. Her work also included raising awareness of the issue of violence against Native women as an international human rights violation in the U.S. and before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Ethel has also served as a tribal finance associate. Her work consisted of assisting tribes in gaining access to the capital markets and in leveraging tribal assets to fund the development of critical capital infrastructure in Indian country. Ethel is a graduate of Harvard University, where she earned her B.A. cum laude in History, her Masters in Public Policy, and her J.D. As the beneficiary of tremendous public benefits and support that have helped her exceed bounds she would have never dreamed of without that support, Ethel is honored to be able to provide service to the Commission and the City. She looks forward to contributing to the advancement and protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights in Seattle, particularly among the City's most vulnerable communities.
Nika Dahlbacka was born and raised in Oakland, California, a city which celebrates diversity and political activism. From her earliest years she pursued activities that furthered equality and multi-culturalism. In high school, she joined Amigos de las Americas, working in a village of 200 in Costa Rica to promote community-based, sustainable development.
At the UW, Nika was a senator in student government, and volunteered for Washington Citizen Action, First Place School, Franklin High School, and the Burke Museum. While at UW, Nika interned at Boeing where she implemented the first 737 Diversity Council. She graduated UW with distinction and a BA in International Business and marketing. After college, Nika continued her career with Boeing, and has enjoyed her role working as a Procurement agent with International Suppliers and the Flight Test Program.
Nika is honored to be pursuing her passion for social justice and equality as a member of the Seattle Human Rights Commission.
Alejandra Gonza received her law degree from the National University of Tucumán in her native Argentina and her Masters in European Studies and Human Rights from the Pontific University of Salamanca, Spain. Currently, she serves as a legal adviser to the Due Process of Law Foundation in Washington, DC. Ms. Gonza also represents victims of human rights violations before the Inter-American human rights system. Previously, she served as a senior staff attorney at the Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (both of the Organization of American States).
Anita Khandelwal has a longstanding commitment to protecting individuals' civil rights-rights that are profoundly intertwined with their human rights. She is currently Federal Defender for The Western District of Washington. She works with indigent defendants charged with federal crimes. Anita has argued in trail court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Previously she was an attorney with The Defender Association. Anita represented individuals accused of misdemeanors. She supervises the Racial Disparity Project, Public Defender Association. She Implementing pre-booking diversion program called LEAD; providing holistic legal services to LEAD participants; advocating for criminal justice policies that reduce racial disparity in the system. Anita has successfully challenged police practices excluding youth of color and homeless individuals from public places and spaces including parks, businesses, and public transit. Anita's education includes a BA in Anthropology from Yale; Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology at Columbia; Yale Law School.
Marsha Teresa Mavunkel
Marsha Teresa Mavunkel has worked within the human rights realm both domestically and internationally for the past 10 years. She graduated from Seattle University School of Law in 2009, and has been working primarily in immigration law since that time. She has worked with human rights non-profits such as the World Organization Against Torture and the International Rescue Committee during her years in undergraduate and law school. During law school Marsha worked with the Seattle University International Human Rights Law clinic and traveled to San Jose, Costa Rica, as part of a team to present an oral argument before the full panel of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Directly after graduating from law school, Marsha worked as a Visiting Professional for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in San Jose, Costa Rica. Marsha has been a Seattle resident for seven years and enjoys working within her own local community in the human rights arena. She hopes to help community members and our local government with human rights initiatives and to inform and educate our city on human rights issues.
Naomi McMillen is currently a paralegal at Carney & Marchi, an immigration law firm. As a part of her work at Carney & Marchi, One America and the Strategic Asia Program, she has conducted extensive research and advocated for a wide range of individuals including women that have fled across four borders to escape domestic abuse, children who are seeking a new life in our country and more. Naomi would like to take this experience and put it to work on the Human Rights Commission's Discrimination Appeals Committee.
As a WSBA Governor, Catherine reinvigorated work on ethics rule prohibiting inquiry into immigration status in civil litigation; co-authored resolution denouncing Arizona's anti-immigration laws; co-sponsored resolution supporting adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; sponsored expansion of legal services delivery to the working poor through the "modest means" program; supported ACLU's request to endorse legislation restoring the voting fights of felons; and removed institutional barriers to bar leadership by women and minorities. While working as a Policy Advisor to Councilmember Conlin, Catherine contributed to the development of the Paid Sick and Safe Leave legislative proposal for City of Seattle. Catherine has served as Refugee Women's Alliance family law clinic volunteer, Northwest Women's Law Center legislative committee volunteer, and a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco.
Andrea Negrete is a Research Coordinator with the University of Washington Division of Public Behavioral Health and Justice Policy coordinating projects aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of children and families served by child welfare. Andrea holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington, Seattle. Her personal experiences growing up as an immigrant in a small farming town in Central Washington has fueled her passion for social change and working to improve the lives of underserved youth and families.
Since youth Martin has been passionate about linking people to each other and to ideas in ways which create an environment where the voices of the most marginalized are heard and respected. Following studies in international law and human rights Martin joined the work of securing those rights on the ground level. Martin's professional experience includes conflict resolution work in Israel and Palestine, minority rights research in France, operations and translation in public health in West Africa and microfinance in India and East Africa.
Greg Ramirez works as a Union Organizer for SEIU Local 6. He is committed to fighting for employee rights and to ensure that workers are treated with dignity, respect, and have equal access to livable wage jobs. He previously worked at YouthCare as a Job Developer/Employment Specialist where he focused on breaking down barriers to employment for homeless, disadvantaged and other marginalized youth. Greg was born and raised in Seattle, Washington and is a graduate of John F. Kennedy Memorial High School and Western Washington University. While at Western he studied Pre-Law / Law & Diversity at Fairhaven College. In addition, he has served on Sound Transit's Diversity Oversight and Project Labor Agreement Committee and Seattle Housing Authority's Section 3 Oversight and Advisory Committee. In his spare time he enjoys playing golf and spending time with his wife, family and friends.
Christina Ygona holds a B.A. in Business Administration and B.S. in Communications from the UW. Christina most recently worked as an event coordinator at the World Affairs Council. Christina previously served as a Research Scholar with the U.S. Fulbright Program in the Philippines where she researched the community-based ecotourism industry. Christina was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic for three years. There, she developed educational courses, workshops, and camps for Dominican young adults and coordinated events. Christina looks forward to bringing her social media management, strategic planning, and workshop facilitation skills to the Commission.
Jennifer Yogi was born and raised in Seattle, and received her law degree from the University of Washington's School of Law in 2001. For the past ten years she has worked as a staff attorney with Northwest Justice Project, a nonprofit legal services organization providing free legal representation to low-income persons in Washington State. Ms. Yogi's work is focused on advocating for the rights of Native Americans in Federal, State and Tribal courts. In addition, for the last 9 years she has worked as a volunteer with the King County Bar Association's Neighborhood Legal Clinic in the International District, providing free legal consultations to members of the Asian and Asian-American communities in King County. Ms. Yogi has also served on the Board of Directors for the Unemployment Law Project for the last six years.
How To Get Involved
The Commission welcomes your interests and ideas. Individuals or organizations who want to introduce ideas may contact Ronald Ramp at 206-684-4537 or Ronald.Ramp@seattle.gov.
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