Meet Our Commissioners

2017-2018 Seattle Youth Commissioners

Leila Adams
Leila has lived her entire life in the Central District of Seattle. She is 16 years old and is in her junior year at Garfield High School. She has always been an advocate for social justice, especially for issues surrounding homelessness.  This is something Leila has been passionate about since the fourth grade, when she began volunteering at a local homeless shelter. When she is not volunteering, she enjoys hanging out with friends, reading, and playing soccer.   Her favorite thing to do is travel and has visited Mexico, Ecuador, Italy, France and Greece.  She just recently returned from a month-long service trip to Ethiopia, where she worked with students to breakdown cultural barriers and discussed ways to create equal education opportunities globally. She is looking forward to diving into issues like gentrification and homelessness as a Youth Commissioner.

Aliya Adan
Aliya is a 10th grader at Franklin High School. She wants to be a judge or a lawyer in the future. She is passionate about discrimination issues and lack of representation for people of color. She is the child of two immigrant parents and has lived in the South end of Seattle her whole life. She would like to gain leadership skills, public speaking skills, and be a better connection to her community through her participation on the youth commission.   

Oliver Anderson-Sanford
Oliver is a 10th grader at The Center School.  He is member of the Associated Student Body and is passionate about homelessness, environmental equity and fiscal management in education.  Oliver is a member of the National Model United Nations (NMUN) where he won the outstanding delegate award for his work on food security and mental healthcare in the battlefield for Libya.  He is a member of the LGTQ community, and believes that taking ideas from both sides of the aisle is the key to building a better community for us all, no matter creed, color, or economic status.

Blaine Aweke
Blaine is an 11th grader at Shorecrest High School. She wants to see change and be a part of the process in making change happen. She wants to be a voice to frequently underrepresented groups in politics: youth, people of color, immigrants, and women. Blaine is passionate about civil rights, the environment, and the growing homelessness crisis Seattle is facing. She has a background consisting of historically marginalized groups. She hopes to impact her community in a positive way by learning how change occurs, building new relationships, and engaging with those in Seattle. She is from a family of Ethiopian immigrants who escaped a brutal communist regime. She was the first in her family to be born in the United States. Traveling back and forth between Ethiopia and the US allows her to formulate a perspective on the world that is unique but also wide enough to relate to many people.   

Dylan Clauson
Dylan is an 8th grader at Christ the King Catholic School. She believes she can be a difference and has many ideas on how to improve the City of Seattle. She is very passionate about the litter problem in the City and hopes to gain a greater knowledge of how the City works and how to effectively solve some of the more widespread issues in Seattle. She believes she can motivate younger kids to want to be involved and make a different and is currently serving as the student council president at her school. She is on tech and programming teams and has spent two years on the speech team. 

Ziah Daily
Ziah is in 10th grade at University Prep in Seattle. She has lived in the Beacon Hill and Central District area in Seattle her entire life. Seattle is her community and her home. She is very active in her community and volunteers whenever she gets the chance. She chose to join Seattle Youth Commission because she wanted to help find solutions in addressing important issues happening in Seattle such as violence, homelessness and affordable housing. Along with her fellow Youth Commissioners, she hopes to make a positive change in Seattle. Ziah loves to collaborate and listen to other ideas and understands the importance of people coming together to represent and serve their community. Ziah also enjoys sports, theatre and dance. She loves studying science, civics, law and history.  Collaborating with and volunteering for local city art projects is something she loves as well. Ziah is excited to continue to work with the commission this year and learn even more about local government and how to make a positive impact on the issues she cares about.

Gavin Fortenberry
Gavin is an 11th grader at Roosevelt High School. He cares about the future of Seattle and wants to make sure we are doing the best we can to talk about issues and widespread awareness of issues that Seattle faces. One issue he is passionate about is eliminating homelessness and youth homelessness. He is also passionate about creating environments where people of all races, religions, ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations are treated equally and fairly. He is passionate about teen access to healthcare and believes that all high schools in Seattle should have free health services available to students like at his school. Gavin has had many surgeries and surviving these experiences has made him more empathetic to others' pain and makes him want to stand up and fight for others.  

Ben Fryer
Ben is an 11th grader at West Seattle High School. He is most interested in fairness and transportation. He plays basketball and is concerned that some of his friends are sometimes treated differently by police and teachers. He wants to work with the City to make sure everyone is treated fairly. He also wants to work with other young people around the City to learn from them and help them understand West Seattle issues.

Victoria Johnson
Victoria Johnson is a junior at Summit Sierra High School, a new public charter school is Seattle.  Her school is located in the International District. She spent many hours going to Olympia advocate to keep her school open. She loves to volunteer in her community with people of diverse backgrounds. Last year, she took a class in school called Civic Engagement and it really brought to her attention issues facing adults and youth today. She is especially interested in the homeless crisis that Seattle is facing right now.

James Mounts
James is a junior at an online high school, WAVA-OMAK, but tries to still be active in his community while he focuses on his education. He lives in the Ballard neighborhood.  In his free time, he enjoys classical ballet instruction, stress-baking, writing, and spending time with his pets. He is an LGBT teen who hopes to focus on civil rights, affordable housing, and environmental issues in his upcoming term on the Youth Commission.

Clarissa Perez
Clarissa Perez has proudly been a part of the White Center community for over 15 years. She is currently a junior at Chief Sealth International High School and is considered to be an ambitious, respectable, and empowering young leader amongst her peers and colleagues. She is passionate about social justice, environmentalism, and youth empowerment. Aside from being a proud intersectional feminist, she enjoys hiking, swimming, and talking to everyone. Clarissa hopes to bring to light the environmental issues that low-income communities in the Seattle area are facing, along with providing more job and internship opportunities for youth of color.

Dhani Srinivasan
Dhani is a sophomore at Ballard High School and lives in the West Woodland area of the Ballard neighborhood. She plays the viola and runs on her school's cross country team. She likes to spend time with friends, travel, eat, and listen to music and considers herself ambitious, curious, and realistic. She is interested in being part of a team that creates both short term and long term solutions to issues that impact Seattle's youth community. She is particularly interested in tackling race and equity issues. With the help of local government and her fellow youth community, she hopes to create positive change surrounding problems faced by minority students.

Carter Sylvia
Carter Sylvia is a student activist who hails from Northeast Seattle and is a sophomore at Roosevelt High School. He has spent much of his youth participating in demonstrations and activities intended to both increase awareness, and demand social and environmental justice for low income communities and communities of color. Carter's interest in joining the Seattle Youth Commission is also fueled by his desire to advocate for local homeless youth and families. Carter also enjoys rowing, basketball, and videogames. Carter is a recipient of a George Pocock Rowing Foundation Youth Scholarship, and will be rowing on the Junior Boys Rowing Team at the Pocock Rowing Center. Carter believes citizen involvement in local government is an essential way to enact positive change in his community, and hopes to learn a great deal about policy making, as well as how the political process works. Carter is extremely proud of his community and takes great pride in representing his district on the Seattle Youth Commission!

Catherine Zhu
Catherine is currently a senior at Ingraham High School. She would like to raise awareness in Seattle about mental health and civic engagement, and is excited to talk about these issues in the Seattle Youth Commission. Her interest in political change arose when she began policy debate in high school, where she serves as a varsity debater and officer in the club. Besides debate, she enjoys dance and writing.