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.
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.
Rae Parks – Program Manager
After working as an educator and program manager in outdoor schools around the country, Rae returned home to the Seattle area to join Y-WE in 2019. Originally from Snohomish, WA, Rae earned her undergraduate degree from Western Washington University and is working part-time towards her Masters in Leadership for Sustainability through the University of Vermont. She believes in the transformative power of the outdoors as a space where young people can grow as creative, courageous leaders, connect deeply with themselves, others, and the natural world, and build strong communities centered around justice and well-being. When not at Y-WE you can find Rae going on outdoor adventures, reading sci-fi, and trying out new creative mediums.
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 the 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.
Madeleine Kannan – MSW Intern
Madeleine chose to pursue her second-year MSW field placement with Y-WE because she found a close alignment between Y-WE’s mission and her professional interests in social justice work, empowerment through the arts, and programs by and for women/trans/nonbinary folks. She hopes to learn from everyone at Y-WE and explore new ways of connecting with youth. Madeleine is passionate about combining creative arts with healing work and tries to make space for painting, writing, and playing music in her personal life.
Faviola Ruvalcaba – Nature Connections Community Engagement Coordinator
Faviola is a current sophomore attending the University of Washing Bothell, her intended major is Community Psychology with a minor in Human Rights and Health Education & Promotion. She was born and raised in Seattle, and is excited to come on board at Y-WE as our Community Coordinator. In her free time Faviola enjoys dancing, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.
Dulce Ortega – Nature Connections Garden Leader
Dulce will be interning with Y-WE through summer 2019. She was initially interested in Y-WE because of our focus on getting young women engaged in outdoor leadership and stewardship. After being a member of the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps, Dulce is excited to apply her skills and heart to supporting young women encourage and support each other in a natural environment. When she’s not at Y-WE, Dulce can be found hiking; listening to 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.
Samaya Pattim – Duke University Intern
Samaya grew up in Dallas, Texas and is a rising sophomore at Duke University. She is intending on majoring in Economics and Public Policy with a minor in Computer Science. The issue of gender inequality is something Samaya came to be passionate about early on in high school, and empowering young women through education or otherwise is a cause she feels is deeply important. In her free time, Samaya enjoys being outdoors, reading non-fiction, road-tripping, visiting national parks, and watching movies. She is beyond excited to spend the summer in Seattle with Young Women Empowered and learn from the amazing community of women here.