Victoria Santos – Co-Director
Victoria Santos has a passion for inclusive, sustainable community and creative approaches to learning and growth. Born in the Dominican Republic, Victoria immigrated to the U.S. at age 11. She is a certified mental health counselor and certified Kripalu yoga teacher. Victoria’s commitment to social justice and service has expressed itself in many forms over the past 20 years, including school-based counseling and community-based enrichment programs for underserved youth, as well as community development in the U.S. and internationally. She co-directs the non-profit Sister Island Project, which promotes diversity awareness, cultural exchange and sustainable development in the Dominican Republic.
Rose Edwards – Co-Director & Co-Founder
Rose is passionate about empowering young women as community leaders and building positive relationships between women of differing backgrounds and generations. Inspired by their new-born daughter Amirra, Rose envisioned and initiated the pilot program in 2010 that eventually became Y-WE. Serving as its Director and guiding light for five years, they remain dedicated to the vision of Y-WE as an organization that incorporates youths’ ideas and involves them as organizational leaders. They graduated from Earlham College in 2007 with a B.A. in Peace and Global Studies. They received the Kathryn Wasserman Davis Award and Seattle Met Magazine named Rose as Seattle’s “Emerging Leader” for 2015. Rose is committed to assuring that Y-WE will be sustained for Amirra’s generation and the many generations who will follow.
Jessica Agi – Development Director
Born and raised in Alaska, Jessica moved to New York City at just 17 where she spent nearly a decade as an award-winning writer and media producer (working in the male-dominated fields of radio, comedy, and TV production). While as a story producer for the popular reality show “Hoarders” she realized how fulfilling it felt to use her skills to uplift others and eagerly transitioned into meaningful public sector work. She has since worked as a political campaign manager and organizer, and has helped raise millions of dollars for nonprofits and causes nationwide. She currently serves as the vice president of What’s Next and program director for Cultures of Compassion. Jessica holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Marymount Manhattan College and a master’s degree in public administration from Seattle University. A lifelong feminist, Jessica is fired up about Y-WE’s mission and thrilled to join the team in this new role.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-724-4776
Reagan Jackson – Program Manager
Reagan Jackson is a writer, activist, and international educator with an abiding love of justice, spirituality, and creating community. Though she grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, Seattle has been her home base for the last 9 years. Reagan is passionate about providing young people with the opportunity to experience something new. To that end she has taken over two hundred youth abroad to Japan, Guatemala, and Mexico respectively. Her published works include three collections of poetry: God, Hair, Love, and America, Love and Guatemala, and Summoning Unicorns and two children’s book Coco LaSwish A Fish From A Different Rainbow and Coco LaSwish: When Rainbows Go Blue. She is a columnist for the Seattle Globalist and contributes to the South Seattle Emerald, Crosscut, and the Black Girl Nerds Blog. Check out her website at: http://www.rejjarts.com.
Anna McCracken – Program Manager
Anna McCracken began her work with Y-WE in September 2015 in an AmeriCorps position as the Program Coordinator. Originally from Spanaway, WA, Anna studied Anthropology and Global Studies at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. Before coming to Y-WE, Anna worked with the Metrocenter YMCA’s Girls and Boys Outdoor Leadership Development (GOLD/BOLD) and the Corrymeela Community, a peace and reconciliation center in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. The majority of her work in Northern Ireland was focused on creating a space for people to come together, embrace difference, and work towards a shared future. In her current role at Y-WE, Anna manages the Y-WE Nature Connections program, a program focused on adventuring in the outdoors, learning about environmental justice, realizing our strength, building confidence and resilience, and growing in a supportive, intergenerational community. Anna values the work of Y-WE because it is a place where we can come and feel empowered to be exactly who we are and who we want to be; a place where community, creativity, and social justice are at the heart of our work.
Sophia Pingul – Operations Manager
Sophia grew up in Brier, WA and moved back to the Seattle area in 2018 after graduating with her Masters of Public Policy and MBA in Nonprofit Management from Brandeis University. Prior to graduate school, Sophia served as a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, working at a permanent, supportive housing apartment building in Detroit. During her time there, Sophia worked with tenants to build community and develop advocacy channels to empower folks to be leaders in their communities. Sophia was first connected with Y-WE when her sister joined the Y-WE team as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in 2014. She has witnessed the transformative impact of Y-WE and is grateful to be a part this incredible community.
Peter Blaustein – Grant Writer and Evaluation Manager
Peter works to foster cultures of compassion, kindness, awareness and social justice. He deeply supports Y-WE’s diverse, vibrant community of girls and women. With a Master’s in Social Work, Peter has engaged in therapy for adults with mental illness, education for children with traumatic brain injury, grant writing and evaluation in school and non-profit settings, and rural community development in the Dominican Republic. Peter co-directs the non-profit Sister Island Project and teaches salsa dance.
Aisha Al Amin – Development Coordinator
Aisha started with Y-WE in 2015 as a participant and has since been in several Y-WE programs, including interning with one of our summer camps. She has interned or participated with CAIR-WA, Advocates for Youth, Wasat, and Richard Hugo House. She has a deep love for assessing how we communicate in society, advocating for civil liberties, and promoting political education. When she’s not at Y-WE, Aisha can be found at poetry readings, attending class at Seattle Central College, or learning about marine biology.
Sonali Jasuja – Program Coordinator
Sonali first connected with Young Women Empowered as a mentor with the Nature Connections program and fell in love with the powerful intergenerational community of diverse womxn supporting, motivating, and inspiring each other in the outdoors. During this time, she served an AmeriCorps term with Solid Ground teaching nutrition, cooking, and gardening with elementary school students experiencing food insecurity in Seattle Public Schools. Before this, Sonali worked in tech marketing for 3 years after attending Stanford University, where she studied Science, Technology, and Society. Sonali is passionate about empowering youth, holistic health, outdoor learning, and social justice. In particular, she appreciates exploring organic cycles of life as a framework to sustainably participate in our environment and communities as well as to connect more deeply to self and others. Sonali also goes by Neli, feel free to call her either or both!
Coral Mercado – Healthy Futures Program Coordinator
Coral grew up in Kent, is a 2016 graduate of University of Washington, and the oldest of 6 siblings. They are a graduate of the Community, Environment and Planning major with a focus on Nutrition and Food access. While in university they organized on campus with Huskies for Food Justice and interned with Community Alliance for Global Justice. After graduation they were a stipended volunteer as a Volunteer Coordinator with El Centro de la Raza and a Nutrition Educator with Solid Ground. This will be their second term with Americorps. In their spare time they go on hikes, search for and cook new recipes, and take photos of nature and their friends.
Faviola Ruvalcaba – Nature Connections Community Engagement Coordinator
Holla! My name is Faviola Ruvalcaba. I am currently a Sophomore attending the University of Washington Bothell. My intended major is Community Psychology with a minor in Human Rights and Health Education & Promotion. I was born and raised in Seattle. I am a new intern as a Community Coordinator with Y-WE and I am excited to learn more on how I can help my community. In my free time I enjoy dancing, traveling and spending time with family and friends.
Dulce Ortega – Nature Connections Garden Leader
I first joined the Y-WE program at the beginning of spring and going through out the end of summer of 2019. What caught my attention was that it is a program for young women to be encountered with nature and be out with a community. I also became interested in this program because I had recently joined a program in my community related to that field. I was part of the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps where we worked as a team to better our community and plant trees as well. From getting to know new people, to planting trees, working in the rain and having mini field trips is what made me get out of my comfort zone. I’m excited to have joined a program where young women are empowered and support each other, grow plants, and encourage the community to be part of it to better it. Aside from helping my community I’m looking forward to growing as a leader, and becoming more open to mother nature, and becoming an independent woman that helps encourage the youth around me. In my free time I like to go an adventures, hiking, listening to different music and trying new food!!
Emma Miller – University of Washington Intern
Emma grew up in Battle Ground, WA and moved to Seattle in 2016 to study at the University of Washington. She is currently studying Psychology and Education, Communities, and Organizations (ECO), and will be graduating this December. She is interning with Young Women Empowered because she has a passion for equity, mentorship, education, health & wellness, and community. Emma also works with Live Salted, a non-profit that inspires women to develop their spiritual identities and find their voices. She believes in the power of sharing stories, listening well, and connecting generations. She is very thankful to be learning from the Y-WE staff as she interns with us.
Johnell Payne – University of Washington Intern
Johnell grew up in Washington, DC where she met and married her high school sweetheart in 2010. Well on her way in her career path to become a pharmacy technician, the military was in her husband’s view. After relocating to Seattle, Johnell decided to pursue her educational goals. After completing her associate’s degree at Tacoma Community College, she set her sights on the University of Washington. Currently in pursuit of her bachelor’s degree in Education, Communities, and Organizations and interning with Y-WE, she is on a new path of enlightenment that has not only ignited her passion for helping others, but encouraged a sense of self-discovery. She values the many aspects of Y-WE and is passionate to know what it means to be her whole self in a space.