Meet the Commissioners
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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.
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Sarah Bishop is a human rights advocate whose focus includes local, state and international human rights policy. Sarah became involved in human rights issues while a student at Oberlin College, where she graduated in 2007 with a B.A. in Political Science. She has served as a community organizer for OneAmerica, working with immigrants who experienced racial profiling on Washington's border with Canada, and engaging youth to speak with their elected representatives. Prior to OneAmerica, she spent two years in El Salvador coordinating human rights advocacy in response to increased violence toward local activists and community leaders. Currently, Sarah works at the Pipeline Project at the University of Washington. There, she brings her passion for education access and community partnerships to connect undergraduate students with service opportunities in Seattle schools. Sarah is delighted to promote equal opportunity and justice as part of the Seattle Human Right Commission.
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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 indigenous human rights attorney 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.
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Lara Diaconu works as a consultant in the international economic development arena as Senior Associate for Organizational Development with Iris Group Inc., and also as sole proprietor of Salaga Partners, LLC, specializing in strategic planning, and organizational capacity development for market-sustained program design and implementation. Lara teaches as an adjunct for Seattle University's Masters of Non Profit Leadership program. Born and raised in King George VA and Columbus OH, she earned her BA in International Relations from Grinnell College and a combined MA/MBA from Yale University. She is currently pursuing a certificate in Rental Housing Development Finance. A fluent Spanish speaker, she lived for seven years in Nicaragua which she considers her second home. Lara serves on the SHRC's Political and Civil Rights Task Force, and is excited to be a part of such a dynamic Commission supporting such a diverse human rights agenda here at home in the City of Seattle.
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Alejandra Gonza directs the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Washington School of Law. Previously she served as a senior attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and as a staff attorney at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Gonza has also worked as a consultant to non-governmental human rights organizations based in Latin America and the United States. In 2012, she was appointed Commissioner of the Seattle Human Rights Commission. Gonza completed her legal studies at the National University of Tucumán (Argentina) and the University of Salamanca (Spain), and earned her master’s degree in human rights from Pontifical University of Salamanca (Spain).
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Sarah is an attorney with The Public Advocate, a nonprofit law firm, where she is a general practitioner with particular interests in immigration, civil rights, and prisoners’ rights. She is deeply concerned with issues of poverty, justice, and the creation of liberating, non-hierarchical systems.
Before becoming a lawyer, Sarah was active in the struggle against AIDS, doing underground needle exchange, implementing some of the first street-based HIV testing in Seattle, and working closely with homeless young people to design youth-centric medical programs. Sarah’s proudest achievement in New York was spearheading the first needle exchange in the borough of Queens, an innovative program that is still thriving and serving thousands of drug users.
Sarah holds a JD from the University of Washington School of Law, an MA in from Central European University’s History Department, and a BA from City University of New York’s Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies. She is also a proud alumna of Seattle Central Community College.
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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.
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Ken Nsimbi has over 15 years of experience working with youth and for the past 5 years has served as a coordinator of the New Horizons homeless youth drop-in center. Ken works and partners with homeless young men and women in their journey towards exiting street life. He helps mentor young men and women as they focus on their identity and leadership development through a positive youth development model. Ken has had many roles in the community as a youth advocate and forming partnerships with other community leaders.
Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. Ken’s experience as a man of color and first generation immigrant is his driving force to serving populations whose voices have been muted by society. Ken received his Bachelor of Science in Human Services at the University of Phoenix. He is excited and honoured to serve on the Seattle Human Rights Commission Board.
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Rich Stolz serves as the Executive Director of OneAmerica, a local nonprofit organization that seeks to advance democracy and justice by building power in immigrant communities. Previously, Rich worked at the Center for Community Change, a national organization based in the District of Columbia., focused on the intersection of policy, politics and organizing across a broad spectrum of issues impacting low-income and minority communities, including jobs and income support policy, immigration policy, infrastructure investment and environmental justice. Rich helped found and staff the Transportation Equity Network, a multi-ethnic organizing strategy focused on the impact of transportation policy on job access, community development, and environmental justice. Rich served as coordinator of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, a national coalition of immigrant rights organizations fighting for comprehensive immigration reform. He also served as the Campaign Manager for the Reform Immigration FOR America Campaign in 2008, a multi-million dollar, cross sector (labor, faith, community, business) campaign with more than 900 organizational endorsers. While a student at Stanford University, Rich helped create ethnic studies programs and volunteer in efforts to defeat California's proposition 187, an anti-immigrant ballot measure.
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Julianna Tesfu works as a Program Coordinator with YouthCare's YouthBuild Program, a nationally recognized Pre-Apprenticeship opportunity that focuses on identity and leadership development for young adults. Prior to YouthBuild, Julianna served as a student ambassador for the Office of Minority of Affairs & Diversity; as well as a Community Outreach Counselor for the James W. Ray Orion Center.
Julianna's experience, as a woman of color and first-generation immigrant, fuels her commitment to service; her focus includes addressing the socioeconomic disparities experienced by communities of color and creating pathways for equity. Julianna is excited to serve on the Human Rights Commission and looks forward to creating opportunities for communities to stabilize themselves.
Julianna received her Bachelor of Science in Public Health at the University of Washington.