Meet Our Commissioners

Beverly Aarons
Beverly Aarons has lived in Seattle since 2010. She is a renter, writer, gardener, and community activist who has lived in Queen Anne, Belltown, and Pioneer Square. Her current projects include creating a video game about the impacts of gentrification on renters.

Jack Barker
Jack Barker is a Queer Transgender artist and corset maker, originally from New Hampshire.  He moved to Seattle in 1972 and has lived here ever since, with the exception of a year in Portland.  Over the past 45 years, Jack has rented lodgings in a variety of Seattle neighborhoods, including the Ave, Capitol Hill, North Aurora, the Central District, and Rainier Valley.  Since 2015, he has lived in Fremont as a renter in Seattle senior housing. Jack has been active with LGBTQ Allyship, focusing on housing and homelessness concerns of LGBTQ youth and elders and other marginalized Queers. He has facilitated classes on the challenges of aging as a Trans person at Gender Odyssey and has been an overnight monitor and volunteer supporter of "Out of the Darkness" suicide prevention walks in Seattle. Jack has also worked as a volunteer at Teen Hope shelter in Shoreline and currently cooks Monday morning breakfast at ROOTS young adult shelter in the U District.

L. Curtis Blankinship
Curtis is originally from Sedan, KS and has lived in Seattle for about four years. He has an Associate of Science degree and will be enrolled in the Sustainable Building Science Technology program at South Seattle College in the fall of 2017. As a relatively new Seattleite, he brings a fresh view to the challenges we are facing as renters. He represents several groups of renters, including low-income, LGBTQ, and someone who has experienced homelessness. As a member of the commission, his goal is to represent the perspectives of multiple groups of renters fairly and accurately and ensure that all groups of the population grow with the city instead of being displaced from Seattle.

Cliff Cawthon
Cliff Cawthon is a local organizer and writer from Buffalo, NY, who currently lives in South Seattle's Hillman City neighborhood with his partner, another prolific organizer. Cliff has been working in politics and been a part of social justice struggles for the last fifteen years. Since arriving in Seattle four years ago, he has worked alongside workers, community members, and underrepresented communities on workers' rights campaigns and anti-displacement campaigns, some during intense election years. As a renter in Seattle who has faced slumlords and racial discrimination while trying to maintain housing, Cliff is passionate about housing justice. Currently he works as the Organizing Director for SAFE, a housing justice organization, and is the Vice Chair of the Tenants Union Board of Directors. He earned a M.A. in Human Rights and Political Science from the University of Manchester in England.

Sherry Collier
Sherry Collier is a practicing family law attorney providing legal advice and compassionate support to clients in civil legal matters related to divorce, paternity, child support, child custody, and domestic violence. As a Seattle native, the managing attorney of a minority- and woman-owned small business based in the city, and a resident of Seattle's Columbia City neighborhood, Ms. Collier has deep ties to the Seattle area and earned a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Washington before completing a Juris Doctorate at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University.

Jessie Jacobs
Jessie Jacobs is a white, queer, genderqueer technology professional and community organizer originally hailing from the Midwest. Prior to setting down roots in Seattle in 2014, they lived in New Orleans and Atlanta for several years. As a longtime anti-racist community organizer, Jessie has participated and led many organizing efforts regarding healthcare, education, immigrants' rights, homelessness, and fair housing. For the past three years, they have been working with Seattle's May 1st Action Coalition, which organizes Seattle's annual May 1st March for Workers' and Immigrants' rights. As a long-time renter, Jessie is keenly interested in working with their fellow commissioners to preserve fair and affordable housing for all Seattleites, as well as work to reverse the long history of gentrification and displacement that has plagued Seattle for many years. They currently reside in the Alki neighborhood in West Seattle with their partner, three cats, and a baby due in November 2017.

Calvin Jones
Calvin Jones grew up in Summit, New Jersey, and went to high school at The Pingry School in Martinsville, New Jersey. He went on to study math and join the swim team at Yale, where he also discovered a love of economics and public policy. He has lived in Seattle for the past three years and now works for Microsoft. He also enjoys volunteering at Mary's Place in Belltown. Calvin was placed on the Seattle Renters' Commission through Get Engaged, a leadership development program for young adults ages 18-29 in partnership with the YMCA.

Daniela Lopez
Daniela Lopez grew up in central California's agriculturally-rich, socially and racially diverse San Joaquin Valley. She studied Literature and Mass Communication & Journalism at California State University, Fresno, where she served as section editor and writer for the university's newspaper. She managed small businesses in the beauty and health industry while in college and, a few years after graduation, made the transition into the legal field after obtaining her Paralegal Certification at the University of Washington. She moved to Seattle more than five years ago and has lived in Ballard, Magnolia, Pioneer Square, and now Fremont. She looks forward to serving her neighborhood and the Seattle community.

David Mooney
David Mooney is a lifelong Seattleite who grew up in the Hillman City neighborhood. He attended Franklin High School and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in behavioral health at Seattle Central College.  David is passionate about the homeless and persons suffering with substance use disorders. He is a licensed chemical dependency professional and has sat on the Board of Trustee's at Plymouth Housing. He also volunteered at Recovery Café, a community of respite and healing.  Those and other life experiences have given him a unique perspective on the current housing crisis and the drivers of homelessness. David currently lives in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and enjoys playing guitar and riding his bike.

ChrisTiana ObeySumner
ChrisTiana ObeySumner is an Alaskan-Born, Philly-Raised, East-Coast transplant who moved to the area in 2010 to attend Seattle University as a Transfer Scholar. They have a BS in Psychology, a Masters in Nonprofit Leadership, and is currently pursuing their M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health & Addictions Counseling. Their area of expertise and research is the relationship between marginalized and oppressed intersectionalities and access to basic human needs and rights in American society. ChrisTiana is the chair of the Housing Committee within the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities and is also the founding Executive Director of the Eleanor Elizabeth Institute for Black Empowerment.

Michael Padilla
Michael Padilla currently works at a nonprofit devoted to engaging young people in the political process. He has worked at the nonprofit and grassroots level for the last five years in Seattle and Western Washington, helping create strong communities through campus organizing, community organizing, and advocating for progressive policies. He was born in Cuernavaca, Mexico but was raised in the great state of Washington, and graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science. His studies there focused on how government policies can best foster sustainable social, economic, and political progress for marginalized communities in an inclusive manner. He also possesses an associate's degree in Civil Engineering from Lake Washington Technical College where his studies helped him gain an understanding of smart urban planning and development. He strives to continue using his knowledge and experience in a way that is inclusive of the voices and leaders of the city's marginalized communities.

Laurie Rocello Torres
Laurie Rocello Torres' work with social justice began when they moved to Seattle in 2013 for a yearlong service fellowship with Puget Sound Sage, after graduating with a Bachelors in Organizational Communications from Bradley University. They are passionate about equitable, transit-oriented development and anti-displacement work. They have done work around environmental, economic, gender, racial, and transformative justice in the community. In their free time, Laurie loves to sing, dance, and teach a community self-defense and wellness class for queer and trans people of color called Building Autonomy and Safety for Everybody (BASE).  They also currently serves as the Deputy Secretary General of GABRIELA Seattle, a collective of Pin@ys who do cultural and political education work around labor issues impacting Filipino migrant workers. They are also a member of Got Green's Young Workers in the Green Movement.

Jessica Westgren
Jessica Westgren has lived in Seattle for over ten years. She received her BS in Psychology from Long Island University and currently works as a paralegal at a local holistic law firm. She previously spent five years working in Property Management where she saw firsthand the effects of the Housing Crisis in Seattle, including displacement, homelessness and economic stress due to rental rate increases. Jessica is one of the founders of Welcoming Wallingford, a grassroots community group working towards positive discussions concerning density in her neighborhood. In her free time, she volunteers with Seattle Tilth, KEXP, and has helped work on the Tiny House Villages with the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI). She has been a renter her entire life and has been engaging with the city at a variety of HALA community meetings and land use public hearings.