Meet the Commissioners
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.