RVC is governed by a Board of Directors comprising of leaders from communities of color, funders, and other community activists:
Ethiopia Alemneh is married with two kids, and loves to volunteer with homeless services. She has a B.A. in Human Services & Management, and has been working with various immigrant & refugee organizations for 15 years. Currently Ethiopia is the Director at Ethiopian Community of Seattle. RVC’s unique vision to empower young leaders within their own communities is what draws her to this organization.
Faisal Jama has been active in the East African community throughout his life, and spent several years as an East African Community Services volunteer before becoming Executive Director. He graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and honed his management skills during two summers spent interning for the Bank of NY Mellon as a performance analyst, as well as an internship at Russell Investments. In 2011, he consulted at Grey Matters Capital Consulting in Hyderabad, India, primarily developing a public school rating system. Faisal serves on the Steering Committee for the South East Seattle Education Coalition and is also a member of the Youth Development Executives of King County.
Tsegaye Gebru is passionate about serving kids and families, and helping to change their environment for the better. He has worked in the nonprofit field for over 12 years, and has been the E.D. of Horn of Africa Services since 2009. RVC gives Tsegaye a welcoming place to share his ideas while gaining new skills. It also allows small CBOs to come together to address common issues and work to improve and strengthen our communities.
Zeke Spier grew up in Portland, Oregon and currently resides in the Rainier Valley. In his leisure time, he can be found outdoors tending to his vegetable garden, hiking, or rock climbing. During work hours, he uses his red bike as a mode of transport in his role as the Executive Director of Social Justice Fund Northwest. Zeke‘s experience living and working in Seattle has made him ever more appreciative of how refugees and immigrants have contributed to making Seattle a great place to live. Zeke sees RVC as an important vehicle to build leadership and increase the power of our newest residents.
Manami Kano is Japanese American born and raised in Los Angeles. Her family’s internment during WWII sparked her lifelong passion for social justice. Manami lives with her partner in Columbia City. She has worked the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, as a consultant to social justice organizations and foundations, and is currently at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Manami believes in RVC’s goal of building indigenous leadership and community infrastructure toward broader systemic change goals that improve opportunities and conditions for all residents.
Tony To is a first generation immigrant from Hong Kong and has been living in Seattle for more than two decades after relocating from New York. He enjoys birding in his spare time, and notes that birds operate within a very distinctive community – just like people. Tony’s work as the Executive Director at HomeSight in the Rainier Valley gives him a unique perspective into the housing needs of immigrant and refugee families. He identifies with and understands their aspiration to continually strive for a better life, and notes how the Rainier Valley has become increasingly diverse. Tony believes that RVC’s three-year leadership development program can make a difference as most nonprofits serving these communities are still volunteer-run.
Issa Ulo was born and raised in Oromia, the largest regional state in Ethiopia. He moved to the U.S. in 1999, and lives with his wife and children in Seattle. Issa joined the nonprofit community in 2004 as President of the Oromo Community Organization and Cultural Center after over 20 years of work experience in the business arena. He has extensive experience in business, nonprofit organizations, and community services. His engagement in community service dates back to his early adulthood when he worked with people from different cultures, languages, history, and life experiences. He has rich experience and strong relationships with communities in Seattle that have been developed over years from the work and interactions with people in a multicultural setting.
Estevan Muñoz-Howard is a Program Officer at the Piper Fund, where he makes grants to support efforts to reduce the influence of money in state and municipal politics. Estevan is a tireless advocate for fair representation and racial equity in our political system. In 2015, he helped lead the successful Honest Elections Seattle campaign—the historic initiative to implement a democracy voucher program and create a floor for political voice in the city. Estevan previously worked as Development Director for Arts Corps and Social Justice Fund NW, and as Executive Director of the Youth Media Institute. He has also served on the board of the Washington Bus and on the Seattle Arts Commission. He is passionate about youth engagement, community organizing, and the diffusion of power. Estevan is thrilled to be joining the board of Rainier Valley Corps, as he is a longtime fan of RVC’s mission to increase the capacity of communities of color to effect systemic change.
Todd Vogel has lived in Seattle for over a decade and loves the vibrant change as newer immigrants turn their energy and enthusiasm into making our city even better. Todd has a Ph.D. in American Culture and is the Managing Director of Loom Foundation, as well as the Chair of the Board of Directors at Social Venture Partner, Seattle. He has worked on projects regarding how race, class and power affect our environment, the way we build our cities and our philanthropy. Todd has published two books: The Black Press and Rewriting White: Race, Class and Cultural Capital in Nineteenth-Century America. Seattle does a good job of making known its intention to have broad based participation in public decisions. However, the necessary financial and human support isn’t always there to permit immigrants and refugees to fully participate. Todd loves that RVC is committed to building the capacity of immigrant and refugee groups to speak for themselves.