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Meet the Commissioners

  • Lylianna Allala
  • Mergitu Argo
  • Elsa Batres-Boni
  • Morgan Beach
  • Clarissa Lord Brundage
  • Jennifer Cobb
  • Mercedes Elizalde
  • Michele Frix
  • Wendy M. Gillihan , co-chair
  • Maha Jahshan
  • Roslyn Kagi
  • Martina Kartman
  • Liz Kellogg
  • Phyllis Lewis
  • Bridgette Maryman, co-chair
  • Betsy McConnell Gutierrez
  • Alison Mondi
  • Nicki Oliver
  • Jaron Reed
  • Susanna Tat
  • Simmy Virk
  • Tracey Whitten

  • How to Become a Commissioner

    Seattle Women's Commission seeks Candidates

    Lylianna Allala

    Lili Allala currently serves as the Urban Forest Restoration Director for Nature Consortium- a Seattle based environmental and arts non-profit. As Restoration Director, she is responsible for overseeing the Urban Forest Restoration Project in the West Duwamish Greenbelt-the largest remaining contiguous forest in the city of Seattle. She comes to the Pacific Northwest by way of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in Spanish from Winona State University in Minnesota. Lili has seven years of working experience in restoration ecology specializing in wetlands. She holds certificates in Nearshore Restoration as well as Watershed Stewardship from Washington State University, Designing Compensatory Mitigation and Restoration Projects from the Washington Coastal Training Program, and a certificate in Wetland Science and Management from the University of Washington. She has extensive experience in volunteer management, upland and wetland restoration, prescribed burning, and trail building. Recently she graduated from the National Hispana Leadership Institute’s (NHLI) Advancing Latina Leaders in Non-Profit (ALL-IN) program. Through her fellowship with NHLI she also received a certificate in Non-Profit Management from Georgetown University.

    Lili is a proud Chicana and is passionate about social justice issues and working in solidarity to empower communities that have historically been marginalized. Lili volunteers her time with an organization called Powerful Voices to encourage positive girl culture and the growth of strong girls into strong women. She comes from a family with strong Tejano roots and is the oldest of 4. In her spare time, Lili loves to make crafts, write poetry, and explore the forested mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

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    Mergitu Argo

    For the past five years Mergitu has worked for Neighborhood House as an employment specialist. She also has worked in various positions at the Refuge Women's Alliance for the past 8 years. She does classroom interpreting, parent education workshops and case management for the ESL/DD participants and family advocating for East African's who speak Amharic and Oromiffa . She has been a job coach for Rainier Vista which opened up the door for other opportunities working with employers and other service providers around King County.

    Her formal training is in case management and working in the community by teaching parenting education. And finally, her training as an administrative assistant, years of working experience at the Refugee Women's Alliance (ReWA), Neighborhood House, serving on the African Community Network board in Washington, and the East African Police Advisory Council has positioned her to be a good candidate for the Seattle Women's Commission as she continues to advocate for refugee and immigrant women in Seattle.

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    Elsa Batres-Boni

    Elsa was born and raised in Mexico City, where she studied social anthropology at the Escuela Nacional de Antropologia e Historia. Her training as a community organizer and educator began while working with a popular education-focused organization in various rural indigenous communities in Mexico. In the past 10 years Elsa has worked professionally and volunteered for different social and environmental justice organizations locally and internationally such as BUSCA, AC and Oxfam in Mexico, the Monteverde Institute in Costa Rica, and EarthCorps, Casa Latina, Community Coalition for Environmental Justice, YouthCare and Global Visionaries in Seattle, WA. Most recently, she organized immigrant communities with OneAmerica throughout southwestern Washington state. Elsa believes the only way to social change is committing through community empowerment.

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    Morgan Beach

    Morgan Beach currently works in Corporate Development with the American Red Cross in Seattle. In addition to her work with the Red Cross, Morgan currently serves as adjunct faculty at two small colleges teaching Political Science and Non-Profit Management courses. She holds a Master in Public Policy degree from Pepperdine University in southern California and Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Denver in Colorado.

    She came to Seattle & the Red Cross after two years in Colorado working with United Way—where she filled a position working on development, public policy and program evaluation for regional health & human service organizations— and serving voluntarily on several regional young professional boards and the County Juvenile Community Corrections Board. Prior to this, Morgan spent two years at Human Rights Watch in Los Angeles working in the Children’s Rights Division on statewide juvenile justice reform and volunteered as the elected President of Women in Public Policy at Pepperdine University through which she worked extensively with Women for Women International and several other Los Angeles-based women’s rights organizations.

    Locally, she volunteers extensively as the 43rd Legislative District Co-Chair with Advocates for Planned Parenthood, the public policy and grassroots lobbying group that supports Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, and their efforts in women’s and reproductive rights. She is currently a part of the Seattle Chamber’s Young Professional Network, Young Nonprofit Professional Network and United Way Emerging Leaders groups.

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    Elsa Batres-Boni

    Elsa was born and raised in Mexico City, where she studied social anthropology at the Escuela Nacional de Antropologia e Historia. Her training as a community organizer and educator began while working with a popular education-focused organization in various rural indigenous communities in Mexico. In the past 10 years Elsa has worked professionally and volunteered for different social and environmental justice organizations locally and internationally such as BUSCA, AC and Oxfam in Mexico, the Monteverde Institute in Costa Rica, and EarthCorps, Casa Latina, Community Coalition for Environmental Justice, YouthCare and Global Visionaries in Seattle, WA. Most recently, she organized immigrant communities with OneAmerica throughout southwestern Washington state. Elsa believes the only way to social change is committing through community empowerment.

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    Clarissa Lord Brundage

    Clarissa Lord Brundage has ten years of public health experience, with a focus on family planning and reproductive health. Clarissa is currently on assignment at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a Family Planning Research Analyst and specializes in adolescent health. She received her Masters in Public Health from the University of Washington where she formed a student group dedicated to raising awareness for reproductive rights and justice on campus. While Clarissa’s professional career has been centered on improving health outcomes in developing countries, she is equally passionate about women’s access to reproductive health care domestically. Clarissa is a long-time Planned Parenthood volunteer and recently joined Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest’s Board of Advocates.

    Born and raised in mid-coast Maine, Clarissa moved to Seattle after serving in the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa. She has lived in Belltown for five years and considers Seattle her home.

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    Jennifer Cobb

    Jennifer Cobb is the Founder, President, and CEO of …and Justice For All, Inc., a client-based advocacy corporation that works on civil and criminal legal cases, is nationwide, and its services are free. Jennifer has been involved in advocacy and activism work since 1996. She has helped over 500 clients with a wide array of issues. Jennifer attended Martin University in Indianapolis and Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis with 160 cr. hours majoring in mathematics and psychology. She moved from Indianapolis to Seattle last year in 2012 for growth and change. When she saw Mt. Rainer, it was breathtaking for her, and she knew then that Washington was going to be her home. Jennifer does not want to merely live in Washington. She wants to help to make a difference. She is honored to serve as a Commissioner for the Seattle's Women's Commission and looks forward to getting to work to help make that difference.

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    Mercedes Elizalde

    Mercedes is currently working with the Student Conservation Association and King County Youth Development Network. Both of these organizations work to create powerful impactful programs for youth. When it comes to women’s issues, we must not only look to our current state of affairs but also look to the future. Mercedes believes that working closely with youth and youth programs allows her to make lasting changes that will improve progress in the next generations. She has been working hard to spread herself out so that she has a vast growing network of professional contacts that span many social issues, from youth and families, healthcare, to the environment. I believe doing this gives me an opportunity to see issues from many angles and have a better understanding of how we can move forward socially as well as politically.

    Michele Frix

    Michele currently serves as Program Officer for the Seattle International Foundation (SIF). Prior to joining SIF, Michele carried out research and contributed to publications for the Technology and Social Change Group at the University of Washington, conducting independent field work in Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia, and Ecuador. She has extensive research experience, examining the sustainability, efficiency and impact of several nonprofits throughout the Latin American region over the past five years. Michele has also been involved in community outreach and grassroots level development work on behalf of: Amnesty International USA, Senator Patty Murray's Veterans Affairs program, University of Washington Guatemala Project, 2008 Campaign for Change for Obama, and various international campaigns demanding equal labor rights for female sweatshop workers and small coffee farmers. Michele graduated from the University of Washington in 2007 with a Bachelors of Arts from the Jackson School of International Studies, and a minor in Human Rights. She has written extensively and made presentations internationally regarding her work focused on human rights, people with disabilities, at-risk youth in Latin America, the role of technology in international development, and women's rights-an issue which is of upmost importance to her. She is also passionate about the outdoors and spends much of her spare time attempting to climb volcanoes in and around Washington State.

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    W.M. Gillihan

    W.M. Gillihan earned her Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Westminster College and her Associate of Applied Science in Accounting from North Seattle Community College. She currently owns Gryffin Business Solutions where she works as a consultant providing assistance to entrepreneurs and non-profits around the Puget Sound. She volunteers as an instructor at the Seattle branch of the Small Business Administration. While she has an interest in a range of women's issues, her passion is in creating change that provides opportunity to rise above the limitations created by poverty. She is motivated by her own experiences growing up in a low-income household. Also, she is inspired to action as a granddaughter of a first generation Hungarian-American who overcame her coal miner's daughter start to work in both the public and private sector at a time when few women had the opportunity to do so. She is dedicated to helping empower marginalized women to achieve their definition of success.

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    Johanna Gusman

    Johanna is currently in her second year of law school at the University of Washington (UW) as a Gates Public Service Law Scholar. She earned her B.S. in Microbiology with honors from Virginia Tech and her M.S. in Biophysics and Physiology from Georgetown University. Prior to law school, Johanna worked as an advocate on a number of women's issues ranging from promoting health as a human right via the lens of maternal mortality in the United States at Amnesty International to serving women in rural Peru as a health worker supporting pregnant women and educating mothers on breastfeeding and nutrition. In her most recent stint, she interned at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and covered the 50th Session of the Committee Against the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. She is currently drafting an article on the feminization of displacement arguing for increased protection against sexual and gender-based violence for refugees from an international human rights perspective. Finally, Johanna is co-president of Law Students for Reproductive Justice at UW and actively volunteers with many local community groups with the mindset of "think globally, act locally."

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    Betsy McConnell Gutierrez

    Betsy McConnell Gutierrez has for over 20 years worked as a Program Coordinator for the South Seattle Community College Georgetown Campus Apprenticeship Training Center. Ms. Gutierrez holds numerous leadership positions, many specifically supporting women's issues. Her years of experience collaborating with education, community and labor agencies shows a passion for recognition of diversity and assistance to working women in an effort to establish family stability, fair wages and benefits. Ms. Gutierrez has been a dedicated advocate and educator promoting the success of Seattle families.

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    Maha Jahshan

    Maha has worked extensively with various immigrant and refugee groups in the community, by providing organizing, counseling and tutoring opportunities. She is fluent in Arabic and her experience as a first generation immigrant helps her respect and commit to help in the fight for social, racial and economic justice. She currently is the Lead Organizer & Civic Engagement Coordinator for OneAmerica, Washington State's largest immigrant rights organization, where in addition to helping lead the civic engagement work, she develops and implements the vision for an innovative leadership youth program.

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    Jamila Johnson

    Jamila Johnson is a civil litigator at regional law firm Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt where she frequently litigates issues relating to government accountability, constitutional law, and property rights. She holds a law degree from the University of Washington School of Law and a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communication from Seattle University. In 2011, she was named the Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year for the King County Bar Association, in part, because of her frequent commentary on the practice of law, politics, and issues of social justice. As a former teenage mother, she is a passionate advocate for women's issues, equality, and is dedicated to identifying institutional barriers to success. Jamila is on her law firm's pro bono committee, and resides in High Point with her 11-year-old son.

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    Roslyn Kagi

    Roslyn is the past Get Engaged Commissioner and is now seeking to be on the Seattle Women's Commission for a full 2-year term. Roslyn is a graduate of Evergreen State College where she studied Social Justice, Community Development and Education. She and is currently a youth advocate and program coordinator for New Futures, a nationally recognized nonprofit whose mission is to partner with families to create communities where children thrive. She serves as the youth coordinator where she conducts outreach and builds relationships with middle and high school youth and their families to teach, empower and advocate by strengthening families and transforming their communities.

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    Martina Kartman

    Martina currently works as a Legal Assistant for Columbia Legal Services' Institutions Project. The Institutions Project focuses on reducing overreliance on confinement, ensuring just and humane treatment for people who are institutionalized, and supporting successful transitions back to our communities. Martina earned her B.A. with honors in Law, Society and Justice, Women Studies, and a minor in Human Rights from the University of Washington, where she received the Karin Stromberg Award for Contribution to Social Justice and the Women Studies Award for Scholarly Activism. After college, Martina backpacked for 10 months through Latin America and East Africa on the Bonderman Honors Travel Fellowship. Through her work, research and community involvement, she is interested in addressing inequities in ideology, law and the experiences of low-income and marginalized communities. On her free time, Martina enjoys hiking, camping, dancing and reading.

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    Liz Kellogg

    Liz Kellogg works at Alere Wellbeing as a research grants manager. She oversees multiple health services research grants with a combined budget of $400,000. She works with external study partners all over the country to ensure smooth study operations in everyone area from participant recruitment and retention to the dissemination of study results. She is extremely excited about being a Commissioner on the Seattle Women’s Commission. Liz has a strong background in research, analysis and love for writing, particularly in the areas of occupational gender segregation, women’s health, violence against women and issues faced by women veterans. She is looking forward to working with the Commission in these areas.

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    Phyllis Lewis

    Phyllis is very excited about her appointment to the Seattle Women’s Commission and hopes to contribute her knowledge in the childcare industry because it is a huge issue for mothers. Phyllis is a site supervisor for Primm ABC Childcare Center at Dearborn Park. She supervises daily operations of the program to ensure compliance with DSHS licensing requirements. She works with families from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds and loves the diversity and hopes to share her know of what in needed in the childcare center and how the Commission can make a difference.

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    Bridgette Maryman

    Bridgette is a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, where she is responsible for representing the State on felony criminal matters. She holds a law degree from Seattle University and a B.A. in Dramatic Arts from St. Mary's College of Maryland. In her free time, she is active in a variety of community organizations; she is particularly interested in how public safety issues and transportation policy impact women. Bridgette serves on the board for the Institute for a Democratic Future and is a member of the Southeast District Council. She lives in NewHolly with her husband and young son.

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    Alison Mondi

    Alison Mondi is the Communications & Public Policy Director for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington where she, among other things, coordinates the public policy and legislative agenda, implements grassroots legislative strategy, and directs the communications and political programs. Prior to this position, Alison worked as a development associate for the organization, was the legislative assistant to an Oregon state legislator, and served as the finance assistant for a congressional campaign. Alison is a former chair of the Washington Forum, an affiliate of a non-profit media organization that works to encourage more citizen debate. She currently serves on the Board of the Washington Bus. Alison resides in Capitol Hill with her partner and their two dogs.

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    Nicki Olivier

    Nicki Olivier is a recent graduate of the University of Washington, where she earned a Master of Social Work degree. As a student, she interned with Partners for Our Children (a University of Washington-based research group), as well as the Seattle Municipal Court’s Probation Department. Prior to that, she worked in Philadelphia for Project H.O.M.E. and Bethesda Project, two nonprofits that provide housing and services to homeless men and women. Originally from Boise, Idaho, Nicki is passionate about economic justice issues, the prison-industrial complex, and ensuring that women are involved in creating the policies that impact their lives. She is honored to serve as the Get Engaged Commissioner for 2013-2014.

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    Jaron Reed

    Jaron is a MPA candidate at the University of Washington Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs and concurrently works for the Evans School Policy Analysis and Research Group (EPAR) conducting research for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Jaron has background in public health, public policy, and technology. She has previously conducted research for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where she studied female-cancer health disparities and biomedical-research informed consent practices among vulnerable populations. As a Peace Corps volunteer she worked in over 15 rural communities to promote infant, child, and maternal nutrition, and conducted HIV/AIDS prevention workshops with the Ministry of Public Health and Education in Guatemala from 2010-2012. As an advocate for public-private partnerships, she acquired a donation of 1,000 Nexus 7 devices from Google that will be deployed world-wide in support of a Peace Corps smartphone monitoring and evaluation app that she developed jointly with the University of Washington and Stanford University.

    She attended The Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University, where she was a member of the Division I NCAA Women’s Water Polo Team and earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, with emphasis on Geographical Information Systems and Public Health. She is a native of Washington State, and lives in Beacon Hill with “her Kiwi,” Chris, who is from New Zealand.

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    Susanna Tat

    Susana Tat is a Master of Public Health student at the University of Washington (UW). She has also served as President of the Student Public Health Association at the UW School of Public Health. Susana currently works as a graduate research assistant for the Seattle STD/HIV Prevention Training Center, where she oversees a STD self-testing project targeted at men who have sex with men. She also conducts research on health of women who have sex with women. For her Master’s practicum, she has worked with the Violence and Injury Prevention Program at Public Health – Seattle & King County. Prior to pursuing her Master’s degree, Susana worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for two years doing HIV/STD prevention outreach and Emergency Preparedness activities. As a commissioner, Susana will use her public health experience to address health disparities and social determinants of health in Seattle.

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    Simmy Virk

    Simmy wants to serve on the Women's Commission because she wants to use her education, passion to change the world, making it a better place for everyone by fostering equality and justice. As a Sociology major, she believes that legal and social institutions often represent the majority, which ultimately ignores minority groups. She would like to change that and utilize the primary purpose of institutions to voice everyone's opinions and concerns. As a LSJ major, she understands the importance of policy making and laws in relation to how it impacts society as a whole. She believes that minority groups such as women, people of color and disabled people deserve equal opportunities like everyone else. She is therefore looking forward to working with the Women's Commission to promote these ideas of equality and justice, addressing all forms of discrimination and ultimately, changing the world.

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    Tracey Whitten

    Tracey Whitten currently serves as the Internal Organizer for AFT Washington, focused primarily on leadership development and membership engagement of AFT members, she also acts as the community relations liaison for AFT Washington and their respective locals. Before joining AFT she worked as an External Organizer for SEIU Local 925 working extensively on improving working conditions for non-union members and organizing hundreds of volunteers to engage in discussion and action around the economy and job creation.

    As the third and youngest child of an immigrant family from Jamaica, Tracey had the opportunity to view the ideals of American values through the lens of two different worlds and she credits this experience for her early onset to fight for social justice. She continued to research this passion by receiving a B.A. in Organizational Communication with a focus in Legal Studies in 2007 at the University of Central Florida. As part of her study, she went to Malawi, Africa for a humanitarian trip where she promoted HIV awareness and testing. Her past projects include volunteering with Planned Parenthood Votes and Child Care Resources to champion support for women's rights and the rights of childcare providers.

    Tracey lives in the Leschi neighborhood with her husband and their dog Bailey.

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    How to Become a Commissioner

    Announcement of Vacancies

    The Seattle Women's Commission accepts applications throughout the year.  April - June is the time of the year for filling seats on the Seattle Women's Commission vacated by the Commissioners whose terms will end in July.  There may also be vacancies at other times during the year.  Terms are for 2 years.  All appointments are subject to confirmation by the Seattle City Council.

    The Seattle Women's Commission is a 20-member board that advises the Mayor and City Council on issues of concern to women.  The Commission recommends policies and legislation regarding these issues to City officials and departments.  The Commission encourages understanding between the women's community and the greater Seattle community.

    Participation on the Seattle Women's Commission requires a minimum time commitment of 8 -10 hours per month, plus attendance at monthly meetings, held the third Monday evening of each month.   Commissioners carry out the Commission workplan, and analyze and provide written and verbal input to Mayor and City Council about policies and plans.  Commission member serve without compensation.

    Interested applicants must reside within the City of Seattle. If you would like to be considered, please send a letter of interest and a current resume to:

    Seattle Women's Commission
    Nomination Committee
    810 Third Avenue, Suite 750
    Seattle, WA 98104-1627

    The Seattle Women's Commission is committed to representing the diversity of the Seattle community.  Persons with disabilities, sexual minorities, and persons of color are encouraged to apply.

    For more information, please call Marta Idowu at the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (206) 684-4540 or e-mail.

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