Meet Our Commissioners

Patricia Akiyama
City Council Appointee: District 7
Patricia Akiyama has lived in Seattle for the past three decades. She started her career working in Olympia for nearly five years: first in the state legislature, and later as a legislative liaison for what was then the Department of Trade & Economic Development. She was selected to work for U.S. Senator Murray in her first term, as press secretary, and later as chief of staff. She also served as senior staff coordinator for Rep. Frank Chopp and worked in management roles for Weyerhaeuser, Quadrant Homes, Russell Investments and the Port of Seattle. Currently, Patricia is External Relations Manager for the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties.  She currently serves as Vice President of the Board for Leadership Tomorrow (class of 2002). She is a member of the Montiana Condominium Association since 2006; a former board member and long-time supporter of the Wing Luke Museum; a former board member of the Seattle Public Library Foundation and current member of the emeritus board; and a member of the Seattle Chapter of the Dante Alighieri Society. (Learn more)

Sonj Basha
Mayoral Appointee: At-large Member
Sonj Basha (Sonja Basha Christopher) is an artist, activist, and community leader. As a Queer Muslim in Seattle, an anti-racist advocate, and feminist writer, Sonj has led empowering workshops in various cities and contributed to groundbreaking policy work in higher education. This past year, they served on a funding panel for gender justice organizations, volunteered to serve LGBTQ refugee and asylum seekers, and spoke alongside city and state officials about decolonizing violent rhetoric and bringing to the center marginalized identities. Rooted here in Seattle, they work professionally in the King County courts as lead bail agent with Pacific Northwest Bail Bonding, the only agency owned and operated by people of color here in Washington. (Learn more)

Jeniffer Calleja
City Council Appointee: District 1
Jeniffer Calleja is a community builder with the Seattle Housing Authority. For over 10 years, she has worked in human services, public health, and civic engagement with immigrants, refugees, and people in extreme poverty in the Seattle area. Jeniffer has a strong history of connecting community members from under-represented communities with their city government, as well as working with City departments in conducting inclusive outreach and engagement. Jeniffer is a member of the Seattle Park District Oversight Committee and the City of Seattle Immigrant and Refugee Commission. Past employers include Neighborhood House, White Center Community Development Association, SEIU Local 6, and United Way of King County. She holds a Master's degree in Public Administration from the University of Washington and a BA in Government and Political Studies from the University of Guadalajara. (Learn more)

Felix Chang
Get Engaged Appointee: At-large Member
Felix Chang is a design researcher at Artefact. He collaborates with multidisciplinary teams and coaches industry-leading clients on design thinking to create innovative, socially impactful solutions. Before Artefact, Felix worked at IBM's new design division, where he empowered dozens of product teams and Fortune 500 organizations to gain greater empathy for their users. His research in cognitive psychology at Stanford University examined how virtual reality might help reduce social stigma. His passion for creating positive outcomes for people has led to work with education technology labs at Stanford School of Medicine and Columbia University, invited talks at international conferences including SXSW Interactive, and volunteer and program development work with single mothers and aspiring first-generation college students. (Felix was placed on the Community Involvement Commission through Get Engaged, a leadership development program for young adults ages 18-29 in partnership with the YMCA.) (Learn more)

Natalie Curtis
City Council Appointee: District 3
Natalie Curtis relocated from Texas to Washington six years ago.  She has a B.A in Rehabilitation Studies and a minor in Substance Abuse, which in-turn allows her to help those in the community who need care the most.  She currently works at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and is pursuing her masters in Non-Profit Leadership at Seattle University as well as a certificate in Public Administration. She is the Vice President of the Capitol Hill Community Council, served as a HALA Community Focus Group representative, and is the Community Impact Advisor for a non-profit that helps unrepresented minorities in STEM-related careers.  Natalie also spends her time volunteering to empower and mentor minority girls. (Learn more)

Jenna Franklin
Mayoral Appointee: At-large Member
Jenna Franklin has worked in strategic communications, community outreach, and public engagement since 2001. Much of her work has focused on increasing equity and engagement in public process and/or on public projects. She spent two years working as a Communications and Outreach Specialist for Sound Transit, where she saw firsthand the difficulties around issues that involve a variety of jurisdictions and agencies. She now works as an outreach consultant for a communications firm for whom she has been developing a Race and Social Justice Initiative outreach model. Her past outreach and engagement work has allowed her to build strong relationships with a wide variety of community-based organizations throughout Seattle. (Learn more)

Alex Hudson
Mayoral Appointee: At-large Member
Alex Hudson was born in East King County to a farming family. She earned a B.A. in Political Science with minors in Sociology and Economics from Western Washington University and has lived in Seattle's First Hill neighborhood for 7 years. She has a background in harm reduction policy, event production, the arts, economic and community development, and citizen journalism. She is the Executive Director of the First Hill Improvement Association, which works to make the rapidly growing First Hill community a safe, welcoming, and vibrant place where all people can thrive. She is on the board of the Freeway Park Association and the Swedish Medical Center Standing Advisory Committee and is active in issues and projects around equity and urban planning. (Learn more)

Emily Kim
Mayoral Appointee: At-large Member
Emily Kim grew up in the U District and attended the University of Washington. She received a degree in journalism and political science and then attended law school at Seattle University. She currently serves as the Community Relations and Marketing Director for Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream. Previously, she worked as a legislative aide for former Councilmember Jean Godden, as well as clerked at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Her previous experience with the City has given her insight as to how the City operates and currently does outreach and engagement. Her current work for a small local business has given her more hands-on experience in working with other businesses, community groups, and non-profits. Emily has a strong understanding of equity issues and current gaps in the City's outreach processes. (Learn more)

Bereket Kiros
Mayoral Appointee: At-large Member
Bereket Kiros is the editor of the Ethiopian Observer. He holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix and an Environmental Science degree from the University of Washington Bothell. He worked at Seattle Center for 13 years as a lead and administrative assistant and was a team member for the advancement of Race and Social Justice. He is also a board member of Coalition of Immigrants, Refugees and Communities of Color (CIRCC). Bereket has spent almost 20 years working to build bridges between the City and its immigrant and refugee populations, and empowering those communities through candidate forums, voter registration, and rights trainings. (Learn more)

Thais Marbles
City Council Appointee: District 2
Thais Marbles was born in Monroe, Louisiana and moved to Seattle at the age of 2. She grew up in the Beacon Hill area, attended Beacon Hill Elementary, Madison Jr High and graduated from Cleveland High School in 1986.  She attended Grambling State University as a Computer Information Systems Major and a minor in Business Administration from 1986-1989.   She is currently employed with the State of Washington, Community Service Division, Region 2 as an Abled Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD) Financial Service Specialist III.  She has 25 years of solid experience providing Public Assistance Services within the Communities of Seattle. Her community involvement entails: Executive Board Member - Coalition of Black Trade Unionist (Puget Sound Chapter), A. Phillip Randolph Institute Organization (APRI)- Member, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLLA)- Member, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle - Guild Member and Volunteer, Women's/Equal Partners Statewide Committee - WFSE. (Learn more)

Mark Mendez
City Council Appointee: District 5
Mark Mendez was born and raised in Seattle, WA; and grew up in the Lake City neighborhood in NE Seattle.  Mark graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in Political Science and from Seattle University with a Master's in Public Administration.  Mark has worked for the YMCA, Seattle Goodwill, South Seattle College, and now for Seattle Parks and Recreation. He is currently managing leadership and career readiness programs for underserved youth in the North Seattle area. Mark was the Co-Chair for the North District Council for two years and is currently on the board of Lake City Neighborhood Alliance.  He is also Co-Chair of the Olympic Hills Neighborhood Council and on the business development committee for Lake City Future First. Throughout his career, Mark has had a passion for bringing together a network of partners to ensure Seattle area youth and adults, especially low-income and communities of color, get the education, training, and resources they need to be successful and obtain high-quality careers. (Learn more)

Ben Mitchell
City Council Appointee: District 6
Ben Mitchell works at Social Venture Partners (SVP) where he oversees SVP's grantmaking program and facilitates the selection of nonprofit organizations for multi-year funding. Ben moved to Seattle in 2014 by way of Washington D.C. where he spent 3+ years working in international development and foreign aid program management. His work included extended field assignments in the Philippines and in Kyrgyzstan where he spent 18 months working on an economic development program. Prior to his work in DC, Ben was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Albania and also worked for a nonprofit consulting firm in Philadelphia. Ben grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, attended college in Ohio, and earned a Master's degree in International Policy Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. He is a fellow in the 2017 class of the Institute for a Democratic Future and, in his free time, has volunteered with the Greenwood Community Council and FareStart. (Learn more)

Julie Pham
Mayoral Appointee: At-large Member
Julie Pham is co-owner of Nguoi Viet Tay Bac-Northwest Vietnamese News, the founder of Sea Beez, a capacity-building program for Seattle's ethnic media, and the VP of Community Engagement and Marketing for the Washington Technology Industry Association. Julie graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Berkeley. She taught History at UC Berkeley, managed the Journal of Vietnamese Studies, and earned her PhD in History at Cambridge University as a Gate Cambridge Scholar. She volunteers on the board of directors for the Seattle Chapter of Social Venture Partners (SVP) and previously served on Seattle's Economic Development Commission. In 2011, she was named to the "40 under 40" business leaders list by Puget Sound Business Journal and voted as "Innovator" in the Verizon Wireless Asian Pacific American Heritage Community Roast Awards. (Learn more)

Alison Turner
City Council Appointee: District 4
Alison Turner grew up in Bothell, Washington, and has lived in Seattle for over a decade. A designer and urbanist, Alison is interested in urban planning as public health and how our built environment can serve everyone. Her experience includes working as the Policy & Advocacy Intern at the Housing Development Consortium, and doing research and writing for Transportation Choices Coalition. Alison graduated from the University of Washington in June 2017 with a degree in Community, Environment, and Planning. (Learn more)