Who We Are

The Seattle LGBTQ Commission consists of 21 representative residents of Seattle appointed to serve in an advisory capacity to the Mayor, City Council, Seattle Office for Civil Rights, and other Seattle City departments. Eight commissioners are appointed by the Mayor, eight appointments are made by the City Council, and the Commission appoints four members. Commissioners are appointed to a two year term of office and serve without pay. The 21st member joins the Commission each year through Get Engaged, a leadership development program for 18-29 year olds.

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights provides staff and support to the Commission.

 

Meet Our Commissioners

Yazi Aceves

Member
Appointed by: Mayor - Get Engaged
Term: 9/1/20 - 8/31/21

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Yazi is a proud Queer Latinx woman with a strong background in elevated leadership, building strong teams and living through the values of Diversity and Inclusion. Yazi has made great strides in her chosen career field, and seeks to apply her knowledge passion to the Seattle LGBTQ+ commision. She has strong ties to the LGBTQ+ community and seeks to de-mystify the inner workings of local government through her term in the Get Engaged program.

Yazi has been a Seattle resident for two years and wants to continue to concentrate on improving housing and food safety within the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally she hopes to partner closely with the commision to provide continued focus on job training, placement and accessibility to members of the LGBTQ+ community to close the gap of housing and food safety concerns.

Anabelle Backman

Member
Appointed by: City Council
Term: 5/1/20 - 4/30/22

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Annabelle Backman is a queer transgender woman who lives with her wife in Phinney Ridge. A software engineer specializing in digital identity and security, she is a professional problem solver with extensive experience finding flaws and unintended effects within complex systems and educating those with relative privilege on the impact that design decisions or policies can have on those without. Beyond the workplace, she brings these skills to the various industry standards organizations she participates in, and to the 43rd District Democrats, where she is the Chair of the Technology Committee. Annabelle endeavors to leverage her privilege to advocate for equitable solutions to hard problems that include and support LGBTQ people, people of color, indigenous people, people with disabilities, and all others.

Photo by Nate Gowdy

Chris Brown

Member
Appointed by: Mayor
Term: 11/01/17 - 10/31/19

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Currently my work is concentrated on Diversity Equity and Inclusion in the private and government sectors. In addition I work with Finance companies managing their books of business. A large portion of my day is committed to concentrating on internal processes around client retention and acquisition. 

Previously I was with American Express helping to lead their quality assurance teams. My professional history also includes Director level positions with iHeartRadio and Intercontinental Hotels Group. My banking and finance background includes time with Bank of America, Wells Fargo and American Express and Prudential. 

In my spare time, I volunteer on the campaign committee of the Pacific Northwest Victory Fund, Fighting for the Majority and am a Commissioner on the LGBTQ Commission for the City of Seattle as a Mayoral Appointee. My partner and I actively support organizations like The GSBA, GLSEN, HRC, Diverse Harmony, Seattle Men's and Women's Chorus among many other LGBTQ+ organizations.

My outside hobbies include traveling throughout North America, playing tennis, jumping in the swimming pool at every opportunity and snowboarding the slopes in Whistler, BC. If I could retire anywhere it would be on a beach sipping an ice cold beverage in Puerto Vallarta.  

Latosha Correll

Latosha Correll

Member
Appointed by: Mayor
Term: 5/01/19 - 4/30/21

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Latosha (or "Tosha", as her friends call her) is passionate about building community through the arts as well as creating and supporting sustainable, positive and innovative solutions to issues facing LGBTQ+ community members and their families.

Prior to moving to Seattle, Latosha grew up in a military family and traveled the country meeting and learning from people all over the world. Born in Philadelphia, she settled in Seattle as a young adult, calling it her forever home after feeling embraced by its LGBTQ+ community.

Over the decades, Latosha has advocated for LGBTQ+ rights and visibility by walking in the Pride Parade with various organizations she has worked with such as Verizon Wireless and volunteering her time with non-profits such as Equal Rights Washington, Seattle AIDS Support Group and Lifelong AIDS Alliance.

In 2016, Latosha co-founded Mistresspiece Theater, a LGBTQ-centered community performing arts organization focused on supporting women and the LGBTQ community with opportunities in all theater disciplines. 

DeAunte Damper

Member
Appointed by: City Council
Term: 5/1/19 - 4/30/21

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DeAunte' Damper, born and raised in Seattle, Washington. Attended and graduated from Rainier Beach High School in 2004. His focus is serving the local Seattle community. In 2019, he was named the first-ever LGBTQ chair for the NAACP in National History.

Professional History: Previously worked at POCAAN (People of Color, Against Aids Network) Peer Navigation - Nonprofit established in 1987 which focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention and serves marginalized communities in Seattle ● Black Lives Matter at SPS, where he promoted HIV Awareness and LGBTQ Affirming ● Advocate and partner with Seattle Police Department providing education on racial justice and mental health  ● Homeless Ministry Coordinator for New Hope Baptist Church ● Youth Advocate for Restore Community Involvement ● Stabilizing Homeless Felons of Color with Chemical Dependency and Mental Health Challenges ●  BSU advisor for Seattle Public Schools

Michael Garrett

Michael Garrett

Member
Appointed by: Council
Term: 11/01/18 - 10/31/20

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Michael Garrett is a lifelong Washingtonian who has lived in the Eastlake District of Seattle since 1980. Michael has expertise in healthcare quality, care management, health and disability benefits, and care delivery models. He has worked in the healthcare field his entire career by working with a broad range of health and disability benefit programs with providers and payers in both private and public sectors. With a lesbian couple, Michael co-parented an adult child who identifies as LGBTQ. Michael hopes to provide insights and representation of LGBTQ parents and elders through his work with the Seattle LGBTQ Commission. He also hopes to promote improvements for the LGBTQ community in the access to and experience of healthcare. Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Gonzaga University and a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology from the University of Idaho. He is board certified in case management, vocational evaluation, and patient advocacy.

Nate Higby

Member
Appointed by: Mayor
Term: 9/1/20 - 8/31/21

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Nate Higby (he/him/his) graduated with a degree in Sociology from Whitman College, Washington and works at Virginia Mason Medical Center where he does continuous improvement consulting and is an active member of the LGTQB staff committee. A life-long Pacific Northwesterner, Nate is passionate about social justice, especially dismantling systems of oppression. In particular, Nate has spent time advocating for both Disability and LGTBQrights. In 2018, Nate was able to participate in a civil rights pilgrimage in the South and heard firsthand from footsoldiers about the importance of civic engagement. Since then, Nate has been committed to serving the community by working with a variety of local organizations in Seattle, including Year Up, Common Purpose, Yesler Terrace's Youth Tutoring Program, and United Way. When not working or volunteering, Nate likes to
train for marathons and try new restaurants around Capitol Hill.

Kari A. Lerum

Co-Chair
Appointed by: Commission
Term: 11/01/19 - 10/31/21

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Kari A. Lerum, Ph.D, is Associate Professor at the University of Washington Bothell. Kari's research, scholarship, and teaching focuses on social inequality through the lens of sexuality, gender, race, culture, and power. Her work has included a coalition of sex work and human rights activists who influenced the Obama-run state department to recognize a UN recommendation to address violence against LGBTQ individuals and individuals in the sex trade. In her professional writing and speaking she has advocated for social justice approaches to both sex work and human trafficking policies, highlighting linkages between sexual, gender, racial, immigration, and economic rights and justice. She also examines the role of media in the production of social inequality and justice, particularly in the area of sexuality. At UWB and UWS she has also been active in efforts to provide more comprehensive anti-sexual and gender violence training as well as better support for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Victor Loo

Member
Appointed by: Commission
Term: 11/1/19 - 10/31/21

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Victor Loo is the Director of Practice Innovation from Asian Counseling and Referral Service. He has experience in the provision, supervision, and management of behavioral health services/social services. He is 1 of the 25 national leaders in the SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions (CIHS)'s Addressing Health Disparities Leadership Program, and 1 of the 15 national leaders in the National Council for Behavioral Health's Healthy Youth Leadership Institute. He is a member of the King County Integrated Care Network Finance Committee. He is a board member representing Behavioral Health sector in HealthierHere King County Governing Board, and also on its Executive Committee. Besides the passion to serve Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, immigrants, and refugees, he is also an active community advocate/leader for the LGBTQ community.

Besides his leadership roles in social services/healthcare, he is also an international androgynous model who goes by Victoria Victor #iStyle4Life and he integrates arts/fashion with charity and philanthropy - #FashionIntegration, where he uses the platform to educate and elevate social justice issues.

Jessi Murray

Jessi Murray

Member
Appointed by: Commission
Term: 5/01/18 - 4/30/20

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Jessi Murray has been a community activist, leader, and volunteer for more than half of her life, particularly in the realms of reproductive justice and LGBTQ advocacy. She works as a technical program manager and UX designer on open-source software for accelerating cancer and HIV research. Overall, she strives to make the world a better place to live for everyone, through technology, advocacy, and community.

John Rodriguez

Co-Chair
Term: 4/1/19 - 4/30/21

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John has been advocating for human rights for the last 15 years, especially for the LGBTIQ+ community's rights in his home country, the Dominican Republic where he founded a chapter of an international organization that supports LGBTIQ+  People facing discrimination within religious groups and organizations. He is also one of the International Directors of the It Gets Better Project. Their mission is to empower LGBTIQ+ Youth around the world.  John serves as a co-chair for the Seattle LGBTQ Commission and co-chair of a King County Planning Council committee that assists the funding of important health related programs in King, Snohomish and Island counties. He moved to Seattle from New York in 2016. He studied Hotel and Business Management, Marketing, English, and is a graduate of LGBTQ Political Leadership School of the Victory LGBTQ Institute in Washington DC.

Byram Simpson sitting in front of a large map and holding a ceramic union jack mug.

Byram Simpson

Co-Chair
Appointed by: City Council
Term: 5/01/19 - 4/30/21

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Byram identifies as a queer non-binary trans British expatriate, holding Permanent Residency in the United States. They recognize the European, white privilege that created their pathway for residency and hope to use their voice wisely to elevate rather than speak over the voices of other marginalized people. 

They have been an LGBTQ activist/advocate for 15 years, beginning in middle school as a Gay Straight Alliance member in a Midwest school district. Byram's advocacy focus broadened throughout school to include all marginalized peoples, across cultures and borders.

Byram is a mental health and social services professional, specializing in trauma, resiliency, and anti-oppressive practice. They currently work as a housing case manager for a local Seattle agency. Byram was appointed to the LGBTQ Commission in 2018, serving as CoChair from January 2019-December 2020.

Deepa

Deepa Sivarajan

Member
Appointed by: City Council
Term: 11/01/19 - 10/31/21

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Deepa is queer South Asian-American woman, born and raised in West Seattle. She currently works for EnviroIssues, specializing in public outreach and communications consulting for local governments. Deepa has a Master's in climate change studies, and she has previously worked as an organizer for electoral and environmental campaigns in the Puget Sound region. She is passionate about environmental justice, which aims to address the disproportionate effect of environmental degradation on communities of color and low-income communities. Deepa envisions a bigger role for environmental justice advocacy in queer and trans activist spaces, centering the voices and needs of QTPOC. She hopes that her work with the commission will further her interest in integrating EJ perspectives into policy, particularly in making recommendations on homelessness, displacement, and LGBTQ community spaces.

Joseph Suttner

Member
Appointed by: City Council
Term: 5/01/18 - 4/30/20

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Joseph Suttner is a lifelong Washingtonian who has lived in Seattle since 2013. He is a proud Gonzaga alum and currently works in multimedia. Through his experience growing up gay and multiracial, Joseph learned to strongly value and embrace diversity. Joseph has served as a City Council appointed LGBTQ Commissioner since 2017 and has worked to expand the reach and visibility of the commission's important work through social media. He lives with his boyfriend and cat in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood

Manuel Venegas

Manuel Venegas

Member
Appointed by: Mayor
Term: 11/01/17 - 10/31/19

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Manuel Venegas is an HIV-positive, first generation Mexican-American, gay community advocate in the HIV & AIDS field. Ranging from local community-level work to national-level ambassadorship in the field, he is a member of the defeat HIV Community Advisory Board at Fred Hutch. He educates the community about the HIV cure research at Fred Hutch, raises awareness of HIV criminalization, and elder needs for healthcare reform. He also advocates for youth in San Francisco as a Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholar at the National AIDS Memorial Grove.

Manuel has been active in advocacy at the collegiate level for the last three years, primarily advocating on Trans rights issues pertaining to safety as well as creating safe places for LGBTQ student advocates to move administration to address issues on student government bodies. Manuel is a Washingtonian, who was born and raised in Moses Lake and enjoys track and field, tennis, and sailing the waters of the Puget Sound.