Meet Our Commissioners

Patricia Akiyama
City Council Appointee: District 7
Patricia Akiyama has lived in Seattle for the past three decades. She started her career working in Olympia for nearly five years: first in the state legislature, and later as a legislative liaison for what was then the Department of Trade & Economic Development. She was selected to work for U.S. Senator Murray in her first term, as press secretary, and later as chief of staff. She also served as senior staff coordinator for Rep. Frank Chopp and worked in management roles for Weyerhaeuser, Quadrant Homes, Russell Investments and the Port of Seattle. Currently, Patricia is External Relations Manager for the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties.  She currently serves as Vice President of the Board for Leadership Tomorrow (class of 2002). She is a member of the Montiana Condominium Association since 2006; a former board member and long-time supporter of the Wing Luke Museum; a former board member of the Seattle Public Library Foundation and current member of the emeritus board; and a member of the Seattle Chapter of the Dante Alighieri Society. (Learn more)

Sonj Basha
Mayoral Appointee: At-large Member
Sonj Basha (Sonja Basha Christopher) is an artist, activist, and community leader. As a Queer Muslim in Seattle, an anti-racist advocate, and feminist writer, Sonj has led empowering workshops in various cities and contributed to groundbreaking policy work in higher education. This past year, they served on a funding panel for gender justice organizations, volunteered to serve LGBTQ refugee and asylum seekers, and spoke alongside city and state officials about decolonizing violent rhetoric and bringing to the center marginalized identities. Rooted here in Seattle, they work professionally in the King County courts as lead bail agent with Pacific Northwest Bail Bonding, the only agency owned and operated by people of color here in Washington. (Learn more)

Felix Chang
Get Engaged Appointee: At-large Member
Felix Chang is a design researcher at Artefact. He collaborates with multidisciplinary teams and coaches industry-leading clients on design thinking to create innovative, socially impactful solutions. Before Artefact, Felix worked at IBM's new design division, where he empowered dozens of product teams and Fortune 500 organizations to gain greater empathy for their users. His research in cognitive psychology at Stanford University examined how virtual reality might help reduce social stigma. His passion for creating positive outcomes for people has led to work with education technology labs at Stanford School of Medicine and Columbia University, invited talks at international conferences including SXSW Interactive, and volunteer and program development work with single mothers and aspiring first-generation college students. (Felix was placed on the Community Involvement Commission through Get Engaged, a leadership development program for young adults ages 18-29 in partnership with the YMCA.) (Learn more)

Natalie Curtis
City Council Appointee: District 3
Natalie Curtis relocated from Texas to Washington six years ago.  She has a B.A in Rehabilitation Studies and a minor in Substance Abuse, which in-turn allows her to help those in the community who need care the most.  She currently works at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and is pursuing her masters in Non-Profit Leadership at Seattle University as well as a certificate in Public Administration. She is the Vice President of the Capitol Hill Community Council, served as a HALA Community Focus Group representative, and is the Community Impact Advisor for a non-profit that helps unrepresented minorities in STEM-related careers.  Natalie also spends her time volunteering to empower and mentor minority girls. (Learn more)

Emily Kim
Mayoral Appointee: At-large Member
Emily Kim grew up in the U District and attended the University of Washington. She received a degree in journalism and political science and then attended law school at Seattle University. She currently serves as the Community Relations and Marketing Director for Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream. Previously, she worked as a legislative aide for former Councilmember Jean Godden, as well as clerked at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Her previous experience with the City has given her insight as to how the City operates and currently does outreach and engagement. Her current work for a small local business has given her more hands-on experience in working with other businesses, community groups, and non-profits. Emily has a strong understanding of equity issues and current gaps in the City's outreach processes. (Learn more)

Bereket Kiros
Mayoral Appointee: At-large Member
Bereket Kiros is the editor of the Ethiopian Observer. He holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix and an Environmental Science degree from the University of Washington Bothell. He worked at Seattle Center for 13 years as a lead and administrative assistant and was a team member for the advancement of Race and Social Justice. He is also a board member of Coalition of Immigrants, Refugees and Communities of Color (CIRCC). Bereket has spent almost 20 years working to build bridges between the City and its immigrant and refugee populations, and empowering those communities through candidate forums, voter registration, and rights trainings. (Learn more)

Thais Marbles
City Council Appointee: District 2
Thais Marbles was born in Monroe, Louisiana and moved to Seattle at the age of 2. She grew up in the Beacon Hill area, attended Beacon Hill Elementary, Madison Jr High and graduated from Cleveland High School in 1986.  She attended Grambling State University as a Computer Information Systems Major and a minor in Business Administration from 1986-1989.   She is currently employed with the State of Washington, Community Service Division, Region 2 as an Abled Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD) Financial Service Specialist III.  She has 25 years of solid experience providing Public Assistance Services within the Communities of Seattle. Her community involvement entails: Executive Board Member - Coalition of Black Trade Unionist (Puget Sound Chapter), A. Phillip Randolph Institute Organization (APRI)- Member, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLLA)- Member, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle - Guild Member and Volunteer, Women's/Equal Partners Statewide Committee - WFSE. (Learn more)

Ben Mitchell
City Council Appointee: District 6
Ben Mitchell works at Social Venture Partners (SVP) where he oversees SVP's grantmaking program and facilitates the selection of nonprofit organizations for multi-year funding. Ben moved to Seattle in 2014 by way of Washington D.C. where he spent 3+ years working in international development and foreign aid program management. His work included extended field assignments in the Philippines and in Kyrgyzstan where he spent 18 months working on an economic development program. Prior to his work in DC, Ben was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Albania and also worked for a nonprofit consulting firm in Philadelphia. Ben grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, attended college in Ohio, and earned a Master's degree in International Policy Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. He is a fellow in the 2017 class of the Institute for a Democratic Future and, in his free time, has volunteered with the Greenwood Community Council and FareStart. (Learn more)

Julie Pham
Mayoral Appointee: At-large Member
Julie Pham is co-owner of Nguoi Viet Tay Bac-Northwest Vietnamese News, the founder of Sea Beez, a capacity-building program for Seattle's ethnic media, and the VP of Community Engagement and Marketing for the Washington Technology Industry Association. Julie graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Berkeley. She taught History at UC Berkeley, managed the Journal of Vietnamese Studies, and earned her PhD in History at Cambridge University as a Gate Cambridge Scholar. She volunteers on the board of directors for the Seattle Chapter of Social Venture Partners (SVP) and previously served on Seattle's Economic Development Commission. In 2011, she was named to the "40 under 40" business leaders list by Puget Sound Business Journal and voted as "Innovator" in the Verizon Wireless Asian Pacific American Heritage Community Roast Awards. (Learn more)

Carol Redfield
Commission Appointee
Carol Redfield went to teach at Seattle Pacific University (SPU) in 1998 after having served in a Clinical Appointment position at the University of Washington (Dept of Physiological Nursing) since 1985. Her clinical focus has primarily been oncology: Staff Oncology Nurse, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Oncology Service Coordinator-Educator, and Nurse Clinician.  While teaching with undergraduate nursing students and precepting graduate students at SPU, she developed an interest in and began researching older adults and the process of aging. Carol returned to school in 2015 to re-focus on gerontology and health policy at the University of Utah as a Noorda-Hartford Fellow, whereby she gained a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree and a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. Carol's current community involvement includes the following: Washington State Senior Citizen's Lobby, Washington Center for Nursing's Transition-to-Practice Subcommittee, Advance Care Planning Facilitator Group (Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition), Washington State Fall Prevention Program, Hearthstone Retirement Community Board, Aging Options Network and Advisory.

Maria-Jose "Coté" Soerens
City Council Appointee: District 1

Maria-Jose "Coté" Soerens is a social entrepreneur and community organizer in the neighborhood of South Park. She is the founder of Resistencia Coffee, a neighborhood coffeeshop curating a local space where neighbors and community can grow. She is also the founder of Puentes, an immigrant-led organization mobilizing mental health resources for immigration justice. A new immigrant herself, Maria-Jose was born in Chile and has made Seattle her home, where she has lived with her husband Tim and their sons for the past 12 years. Maria-Jose is part of several boards and projects all focused on mobilizing the natural assets of community to build more inclusive and equitable neighborhoods. 

Alison Turner
City Council Appointee: District 4
Alison Turner grew up in Bothell, Washington, and has lived in Seattle for over a decade. A designer and urbanist, Alison is interested in urban planning as public health and how our built environment can serve everyone. Her experience includes working as the Policy & Advocacy Intern at the Housing Development Consortium, and doing research and writing for Transportation Choices Coalition. Alison graduated from the University of Washington in June 2017 with a degree in Community, Environment, and Planning. (Learn more)