Young Women Empowered


BJ Star – Facilitator
Pronouns: they/them

BJ STAR (they/them) is a black, trans-non-binary, experience designer and consultant who creates brave spaces for leaders to develop their power and agency in service of a justice, sustainability, and a thriving, equitable society. BJ is Co-Director of the Wildfire Project, an organization that supports grassroots groups throughout the country to grow and win. B is also an associate trainer at Partners for Collaborative Change, lead facilitator at Young Women Empowered, and a steward of The Work That Reconnects.

Mari Shibuya – Y-WE Express Lead Facilitator
Pronouns: she/her, they/them

Mari Shibuya is a multi-medium Creative who specializes in visual and social art. As a painter, Mari creates bodies of work exploring the human condition and the dynamic feedback between environment and personal experience. As a muralist, Mari strives to communicate the power of place by centering community and story in public art.  As a facilitator, Mari is committed to using creativity as a platform to create meaningful change in our lives that can impact the communities we are connected to in a generative way. Mari has a Bachelors in Philosophy and Psychology and three years of fine art training in a contemporary painting Atelier at Gage Academy. Mari instructs fine art programing for teens through Gage Academy and additionally works as a teaching artist for PYE utilizing her training in the creative community model to empower young people to access their voice through creative outlets.

Meera Bhardwaj – Y-WE Code Lead Facilitator
Pronouns: she/her

Meera Bhardwaj creates space for people to share their gifts with the world.  She uses a variety of tools and technologies that offer support in maximizing inclusion and capacity.  Four years ago, Meera joined Y-WE and has been part of Y-WE Code for two years.  She loves Y-WE’s focus on raising people up from surviving to thriving, as they cultivate leadership and coding skills.  She believes in engaging fully and playfully, working hard, and serving in a capacity that strengthens community.  Meera’s background includes community organizing and project and event management. She is a mixed-race cisgender woman who is steadily cooking her way through every recipe in Yottam Ottolenghi and Sammi Tamimi’s ‘Jerusalem: A Cookbook.’

Nahil Sharkasi – Y-WE Code Lead Facilitator
Pronouns: she/her

Nahil Sharkasi is video game and technology developer specializing in making everyday life more playful.  As a Producer at Microsoft, Nahil leads team’s of artists, designers, and engineers to create cutting edge entertainment experiences- working with franchises like Halo and StarWars, and devices like Xbox, Kinect, and HoloLens.  Nahil’s passion is to get women and girls excited and engaged in technology.  As a first-generation Muslim American, Nahil hopes he work with Y-WE will help more women of color grow into their leadership and go after the careers of their dreams.

Samantha Pak – Y-WE Represent Lead Facilitator
Pronouns: she/her

Samantha Pak is Seattle-area native who has been working in journalism since 2008. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Washington and is currently the senior editor for Sound Publishing’s seven Eastside publications. She also writes book recommendations for the Northwest Asian Weekly. Samantha is a member and former board member of the Asian American Journalists Association’s Seattle chapter, which works toward fair and equal coverage of Asian Americans in the media and equal representation in newsrooms.

Stephanie Ung – Y-WE Nature Connections: Environmental Leadership Council (ELC) Facilitator
Pronouns: she/her

Stephanie Ung is an American woman with Cambodian, Filipinx, and Chinese heritage, born to two kind and hard-working immigrants. She was born and raised in the sunny suburbs of southern California (Chumash territory) and currently resides in Coast Salish land (Suquamish and Duwamish territories) that is known to many settlers today as Seattle, Washington. Stephanie serves as a Naturalist for Seattle Parks and Recreation, focused on community-based environmental education in the Southeast region of Seattle. Stephanie has always understood people to be inherently intertwined with “the environment,” in that people are shaped by “the environment” just as much as people (try to) shape “the environment.” So, she strives to broaden the scope of “environmentalism” to include social and environmental justice, and human relationships with each other and the things around us. She is excited to join Y-WE to co-facilitate Environmental Leadership Council and explore these ideas further! For self-care, Stephanie finds solace in catching up with her family, creating zines, making and eating delicious food with friends, and attending community events to stay engaged and connected.

Tracy Stewart – Y-WE Changemakers Lead Facilitator
Pronouns: she/her

Tracy is a mindfulness based mental health therapist and activist attempting the Bodhisattva path. She currently works with SURGE, Social Justice Fund (SJF), Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF), as well as supporting various community actions. She sees her role in community as a supportive safe space for people in discovering their gifts through mindfulness practice and social justice awareness. Her cup is filled by the outside places, silly friends, passion, and folks sharing their good medicine with each other.