Team

Board of Directors

Tachini Pete, President

Tachini Pete (he/him) was raised in both the Flathead Reservation and Navajo Reservation with strong cultural values in the Salish and Navajo traditions.  His mother is Salish and his father Navajo.  He is the father of four children with four grandchildren. He is an avid learner, researcher, and teacher of the Salish language. In 2001 he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Montana Western and in 2010 he graduated from Gonzaga University with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.  He has been known to dabble in selling Native American drums online (Tachini Drums), teaching, curriculum development, and most notable, in 2002 Tachini was a lead co-founder and served as the first executive director of the non-profit organization, Nkwusm, Salish Language Revitalization Institute until December 2011.  His major accomplishments include publication of the first modern Salish language translation dictionary in 1998 followed up with a more comprehensive 816 page second edition (Medicine for the Salish Language, SKC Press) with thousands of entries published in 2010.  Tachini devotes his time to helping communities build capacity to transfer language, developing second language acquisition activities, researching and documenting the Salish language, and growing his small business.

Diana Singleton, Vice President

Diana Singleton (she/her) has been a part of the Wayfind community since 2010 and has worked for almost 15 years on equal justice issues for marginalized and underserved individuals and communities. She started her career as an attorney at Northwest Justice Project representing low-income consumers, survivors of domestic violence, and recipients of public benefits and collaborating with other nonprofit organizations and government agencies to improve access to justice. Currently, Diana works as the Director of Seattle University School of Law’s Access to Justice Institute which prepares law students for a lifetime of furtherance of justice in the law.

Caroline Shelton, Treasurer

Caroline Shelton (she/her) has over 20 years of experience supporting children and youth in school, community, and nonprofit settings. Her career has centered around organizational capacity building on topics such as violence prevention and supports for vulnerable children and youth. When not busy in her day job as the Director of the University of Washington Office for Youth Programs Development and Support, Caroline enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter.

David Lawson, Secretary

David Lawson (he/him) is an associate at Davis Wright Tremaine and advises clients on matters related to tax exemption and charitable giving. He represents tax-exempt organizations, their donors, and businesses seeking to contribute to their communities. His areas of focus include acquisition and maintenance of tax-exempt status; corporate governance, including executive compensation issues; compliance with rules governing private foundations and donor-advised funds; cause marketing, including commercial co-venture regulation; corporate giving programs; unrelated business income tax issues; and IRS examinations. His  clients include major health care and educational organizations; corporations engaged in charitable giving and cause marketing; corporate, family, and community foundations; trade associations; and major social service providers

Annie Hout

Annie Hout (she/her) was born and raised in Tacoma, WA. She is passionate about the transformative impact of philanthropy. Annie is currently the Director of Development at The Washington Bus, a nonpartisan nonprofit that increases civic participation and access for young and underrepresented people in Washington State. She joined the Bus from Seattle University where she worked in University Advancement with donors and volunteers since 2012 and earned a Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership. Away from the office, you can find her enjoying friends, family, and food, preferably all at the same time.

Catherine West

Catherine West (she/her) has spent twenty years working with low-income, vulnerable and marginalized populations.  Catherine has represented clients at the Northwest Justice Project since 2004.  She defended homeowners in mortgage, property tax and homeowner association foreclosure.  She represented seniors in consumer, housing and public benefits issues.  In 2015, she received Northwest Justice Project’s Advocacy Award.  She currently represents families and vulnerable adults on a Medical-Legal Partnership with Harborview Hospital and Seattle Children’s Hospital, and focuses on guardianship, Medicaid, and the rights of trans and gender diverse youth.

Claire White

Claire White (she/her) is a senior associate at K&L Gates LLP and a member of the corporate practice group. Her practice focuses on the representation of public and private companies and investors in a range of corporate, securities and business transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, financings and joint ventures. Her experience also includes formation and funding of emerging and growth companies, private equity investments, tender offers, and secured financing transactions, as well as advising public companies on a range of issues, including SEC compliance and corporate governance matters.

Dinah Wilson

Dinah R. Wilson (she/her) a proud native of Virginia, is the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Coordinator for the City of Kent, where she has worked since 2001.  In addition to managing the CDBG program; which awards grants to nonprofit organizations to provide public services and capital improvements, Dinah’s focus areas include facilitating access to services and integration of New Americans into the community; workforce and microenterprise development; climate change; and accessible transportation to under-served populations.  Dinah also was appointed by County Executive Dow Constantine to serve on the King County Immigrant and Refugee Task Force which was the impetus for the creation of the King County Immigrant and Refugee Commission.  Dinah serves on various committees and was a facilitator for the City of Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative, which helped community groups hold meaningful and transformative conversations about race. She facilitates the Kent Cultural Diversity Initiative Group (KC-DIG), which sponsored the first Refugee Employment Summit in King County.  KC-DIG is a past recipient of the South King Council of Human Services President’s Award for bringing together local community programs to serve refugees.  Dinah received a 2015 award from South King County Pride for promoting diversity. Finally, Dinah is a poet whose poems have been selected several times to be published in the Metro Poetry on Buses series, and she loves watching foreign films, overseas travel, and anything literary or connected to the arts.

Jessica Salvador

Jessica Salvador (she/her) serves as Assistant Director for the Undergraduate Research Program at the University of Washington. Her scholarship, teaching, and professional experiences focus on equity, access, and success to and within post-secondary education for first generation in college, low income, and bilingual students. Jessica completed her dissertation focused on the cases of seven first generation in college Chicanx and Latinx students and how they navigate higher education institutions to access undergraduate research. Previously, Jessica has served in various educational roles including Executive Director for a non-profit that serviced Latinx families and as a secondary mathematics teacher and coordinator for a college prep program, AVID, in La Puente, California. Jessica earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington, a Masters in Education from the University of La Verne and Bachelors in Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Marnina Cherkin

Marnina Cherkin (she/her) currently works at Amazon supporting Amazon Web Services’ infrastructure team and global expansion efforts.  Before joining Amazon’s legal team, Marnina practiced real estate law at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson in New York, where she supported public-private partnership projects and worked on transactions involving real estate finance, leasing, acquisitions and sales. Prior to attending law school, Marnina worked in the non-profit sector, advancing anti-bias initiatives, college campus activities and community development work.

Sara Franklin Phillips

Sara Franklin (she/her) was born in Germany and raised in Tacoma and learned at a very early age commitment and service to your community are how you are called to move in the world. Sara’s roots run deep in public service with a career at King County of 30 years starting as a Transit Operator and later in the Department of Assessments where she currently administers the Senior Exemptions program. Sara currently serves on a number of non-profit and government boards in King County including the Washington State Commission on African American Affairs and the Governor’s Interagency on Health Disparities. She previously served on the NAC board from 2014 – 2019. Sara and her husband reside in Kent and are the parents to four grown sons and have one grandchild.

Stan Brown

Stan Brown (he/him) is the Chief Operating Officer of Water for Humans, a nonprofit that has used the services of Wayfind in the past. Water for Humans provides low-cost, clean water and sanitation solutions to underserved populations while ensuring that water remains a local, public resource. In 2010 Water for Humans became a Wayfind client seeking legal assistance in becoming a 501(c)3 organization. Since then, Wayfind has also helped Water for Humans obtain legal aid with nondisclosure and cooperation agreement contracts. Before Water for Humans, Stan spent twenty-nine years working in the computer industry as a systems engineer for IBM and as a technical manager (systems engineering and network operations) for AccessLine Technologies.

Staff

Aimie Kawai, Operations and Fund Development Manager

Aimie Kawai (she/her/they/them) joined the team at the beginning of 2017. A Seattle native, she brings a passion for local grassroots work and a background in youth development and nonprofit education. Aimie believes in the power of community in the fight for a just world, and that by investing in the strengths of our people, we can bring about social change.  Aimie’s many years of work in nonprofit capacity-building has been strengthened by their experiences working with youth. Through coaching ultimate frisbee for ages ranging from six to eighteen, as well as time spent in curriculum development, Aimie has learned to prioritize listening to the strengths of individuals and adapting the work to encourage leadership and seek opportunities for others.

Brenda Tausch Lapora, Staff Attorney

Brenda Tausch Lapora (she/her) has a background in civil legal aid, veterans law, and assisting nonprofits with transactional matters. Brenda’s previous work includes launching the military Discharge Upgrade Clinic for the Urban Justice Center’s Veteran Advocacy Project in New York City, and representing veterans in veterans’ benefits and military discharge upgrade cases. She first started assisting low-income individuals and communities as an attorney on the Northwest Justice Project’s CLEAR legal hotline. Brenda also has experience teaching Ethiopian law students at Haramaya University, where she lived for six months. She has served on the Board of Directors of six nonprofits, and most recently served on the Seattle Globalist’s Board. Brenda is also a Senior Affiliate Instructor for the University of Washington’s Communication Leadership graduate program, and was a 2017 JustLead Washington Leadership Academy Fellow.

Brianna Jones, Program Coordinator

First joining NAC in October 2018 as an Intern from the UW Seattle School of Social Work, after graduating, Brianna became a full time Program Coordinator. Born in St. Petersburg, FL, they moved to Tacoma in 2008 and realized they were home. Brianna brings a passion for liberation, true community building, and a desire to dismantle anti-Blackness, to all of the work they do. They act as a consultant on LGBTQ+ policy development and education for multiple organizations in the greater Seattle/Tacoma area. Influenced by their positionality as a genderfluid queer Black femme, Brianna is deeply interested in creating affirming and empowering spaces for QTPOC to embrace themselves – while building a society that does the same.  When they’re not working or building community, Brianna is likely writing poems, playing ukulele, or learning new recipes to cook for friends.

Jodi Nishioka, Executive Director

Jodi Nishioka (she/her) has worked for over 20 years on behalf of low-income communities, particularly women, children and immigrant/refugee communities. She started her career as an attorney advocating for immigrant domestic violence surviviors and single mothers fighting for child support in legal aid organizations in Boston and Honolulu. Jodi continued her work on behalf of women and children within state and city governments in Hawaii and Seattle and later with grassroots nonprofit organizations. Jodi enjoys her work because it combines her legal skills with her dedication to building power in communities of color and low-income communities. Jodi is also on the Board of Directors of JustLead Washington and enjoys practicing yoga, golfing and spending time with her family.

Laura Rodriguez, Office Coordinator

Laura Rodriguez (she/her) is originally from Northern California and has a background in Humanities and Education. Laura has spent time teaching an age range that spans from young children to adults in a variety of settings and internationally. An avid traveler, Laura has spent time living in Mexico and France, and is trilingual. Laura is passionate about racial justice and upstream, systemic change. She sits on the committee of the Community Justice Program, which works locally to support youth in leadership development, understanding of structural oppression and supports their efforts to organize in their communities. Laura enjoys karaoke and can be found enjoying soup year round.

Maha Jafarey, Staff Attorney

Maha Jafarey (she/her) has a background in commercial and intellectual property (copyrights and trademarks) related transactions. Her pro bono practice focuses on advising nonprofit organizations with respect to formation, corporate governance, federal and state compliance and representing juveniles seeking asylum in immigration court.

Morgan Wells, Program Manager

Morgan Wells (she/her) is a proud social worker by training, and she brings both a relational focus and a systems perspective to her work as a capacity-building coach. This fuels her every day to fight to elevate leaders whose impact is diminished by institutional and systemic barriers, because she believes only they can deliver on the outcomes our communities need.  Morgan has worked for 13 years in nonprofits, but her work is not about sharing expertise. Instead she tries every day to honor the wisdom and lived experience of community leaders, which requires actively de-centering her own whiteness and unlearning many things taught by white-led mainstream organizations. She seeks the collective good, and has stepped out of a path to leadership to join the NAC-Wayfind movement, in the belief that is it time for others to rise.

Sarah Baker, Program Manager

Sarah Baker (she/her) is a graduate of North Seattle College with a BA in international business, she is considering continuing her education in Seattle with an MPA. A native Seattleite, Sarah has a breadth of experience within the local nonprofit realm. Starting as a young volunteer for organizations like Team Survivor Northwest and Jet City Improv, her passion for social justice and community building have led her to continue pursuing a career in equity and advocacy. Sarah is a firm believer in supporting grassroots organizations, communities of color, and the disenfranchised. Sarah is also on the Board of Directors for the Seattle Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, the United States’ oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization. She enjoys dancing, volunteering, and cats.

Y.M. Chan, Director of Financial Services

Yiu M. Chan (he/him) MBA, CPA, FCCA, is NAC’s Director of Financial Services joined the team in 2005. He has extensive accounting and auditing experience, including more than 20 years of serving nonprofit organizations in the local community.  Mr. Chan received his MBA from Seattle University. He is a member of the Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants and a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants of the United Kingdom.