Meet the Commission
Mohamed Adan was born to Somali refugees in Kenya. When he was four years old, he and his family were resettled in the United States. Mohamed has a strong passion for peace and social justice and has volunteered his time with a variety of local organizations. Most recently Mohamed served on the Seattle Youth Commission, spent a year tutoring and mentoring third graders as a City Year corps member, and assisted East African and Vietnamese residents prepare for the naturalization exam at the Refugee Women's Alliance. Currently Mohamed is perusing an Associate of Arts degree at Seattle Central Community College, where he serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the student publication, the Central Circuit.
Susana Mercado Alvarado - Graduated from Mexico City's, Escuela Libre de Derecho where she obtained her Degree as a Mexican attorney and is licensed to practice law in the 32 states that constitute Mexico. Susana also holds an Advanced Studies Degree on Environmental and Sustainable Development Studies from Universidad Iberomericana and a certificate from Escuela Libre de Derecho in Legal Translation from English to Spanish. She currently works as a Law Clerk providing advice on Mexican Law and support in the different immigration cases.
Susana has mainly developed her professional career in the Human Rights field as a former member of the professional civil service in Mexico City´s Human Rights Commission where she investigated alleged Human Rights violations. Recently, she worked for the Legal Department at the Consulate of Mexico in Seattle, Washington providing legal advice on Mexican law and consular assistance to Mexican nationals in Washington State. Susana also served as President of the Board of the Seattle Latino Film Festival and is vigorously involved in the Latino Community as an activist, coordinator, volunteer and interpreter with various local organizations such as One America, Legal Voice, Social Justice Fund, and El Centro de la Raza, among others.
Mindy Au - Having grown up in one of the few immigrant families in a small Alabama town, Mindy has had a lifelong interest in the causes and effects of human displacement. After graduating from college, she worked at International Community Health Services and then spent three years living along the Thai-Burma border assisting Karen and Karenni refugees in transitioning to Thai society or preparing for US resettlement. She also taught refugee youth elementary level subjects in math, science, politics, and English language. As a graduate student, Mindy worked with East African Community services to conduct an organizational assessment. Mindy holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with a certificate in International Development and a BA in Chemistry from Dartmouth College. She currently works at InterIm Community Development Association, collaborating and developing housing-based interventions to address poverty in multi-ethnic neighborhoods. Outside of the office, she enjoys going on road trips, playing soccer, reading young adult novels, and drinking ginger beer.
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 and family engagement, with low income community members, a majority of whom are immigrant and refugees and from diverse age groups. 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.
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.
Shree Ram Dahal came to the United States as a student and has lived in the Seattle area since 1999. Due to personal experience 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 in Nepal Seattle Society (NSS) and representing and advocating for a community of people of Nepali origin and friend of Nepal in the Seattle area and Washington State, Shree is president of NSS. NSS regularly advises 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 the 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.
Veasna Hoy was born in Cambodia, raised in Olympia, WA and earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Pacific Lutheran University. She studied Asia Pacific Studies as a graduate student at the University of San Francisco and after completing her studies, worked as a university instructor and cabinet assistant for the Royal Government in Cambodia. Veasna previously worked at the Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs and now works as a mental health counselor at Southwest Youth and Family Services where she serves communities from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.
She is a contributor to the Washington State AAPI Voices in Education Initiative, the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience and volunteers for the Road Map Project to improve student achievement and college readiness in South King County and South Seattle. She currently is a member of the Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Program. She will be attending law school at Seattle University School of Law and is looking forward to continuing her work towards empowering disadvantaged and vulnerable populations.
Simon Khin 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.
Farhiya Mohamed - Farhiya has over 10 years of experience working with Seattle’s immigrant and refugee communities. She has experience working for community organizations such as ReWA and Southwest Youth and Family Services. She has worked as a community organizer and educator to help women victims of domestic violence and human trafficking in immigrant and refugee communities. She has also worked to provide environmental health education to the Somali community. She is fluent in Somali and is currently pursuing a Masters in Social Work at University of Washington.
Riddhi Mukhopadhyay is an attorney and longtime activist for immigrant and refugee rights. Born in Kolkata, India, she has previously lived in North Carolina, Texas and now calls Seattle, Washington, home. Riddhi received her law degree from Seattle University School of Law and her bachelors from Duke University. Since 2001, she has volunteered as an advocate for immigrant domestic and sexual violence survivors and is a former Berkeley Law Foundation legal fellow and attorney at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. She has organized and advocated with different immigrant communities, including domestic workers, detained individuals and immigrants with developmental disabilities. Currently at the Sexual Violence Law Center, Riddhi specializes in representing and assisting survivors and victims of sexual violence facing challenges in accessing justice based on mental illness, developmental disabilities, limited English proficiency, and immigration status. She provides bilingual legal services in Spanish, and also speaks Bengali and Hindi.
Kianoush Naficy - Kianoush is an associate attorney at the Law Offices of Marie Higuera, where her practice is solely devoted to immigration law. She received her B.A. from Whitman college and received her law degree from the University of Washington in 2010. During law school, Kianoush concentrated on immigration law and policy matters. She represented removal and asylum clients as a member of the UW Immigration Law Clinic and completed summer internships at immigrant rights organizations in Seattle and San Francisco. After graduation, Kianoush moved to Washington D.C., where she worked in civil litigation at a plaintiff's firm and volunteered for Appleseed Foundation as a legal fellow on their Immigrant Rights Project.
Prior to attending law school, Kianoush lived in southern China, where she taught English to students at Shantou University. She has also lived in Tehran, her birth city, where she wrote and translated articles for an online social justice publication (Tehranavenue.com) and mentored children at a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping child laborers receive education and healthcare.
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, 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.
Michele Ramirez - Michele Ramirez is currently a Master’s student studying Nonprofit Management and Global Affairs at the Northeastern University Seattle campus. She grew up in Pensacola, Florida, where she lived with her close-knit family. After graduating high school in 2008, she moved to Gainesville, Florida to attend college at the University of Florida as a Bright Futures Scholar. She graduated with honors in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, Environmental Studies, and Sustainability Studies. Upon graduation, she accepted an AmeriCorps position in Seattle, WA with a nonprofit organization called City Year. During her time with AmeriCorps, she completed a year of service teaching and mentoring at-risk youth in high-need schools in South Seattle.
Michele now works for the YMCA and the Seattle Mayor’s Office as an Attendance Campaign Coordinator on a project that aims to increase attendance in Seattle Public Schools. Seattle’s rich culture and diverse community has greatly influenced Michele. While continuing her education in Nonprofit Management, she is working on her thesis, which explores the effects of childhood immigration on identity. She hopes to one day run a nonprofit organization that provides services to immigrant families in the Seattle area.
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.