Vu Le, Executive Director, [email protected].
Vu is involved with this work because there is a lot of injustice in our world. He believes that the only way we can address them effectively is if we get everyone to work together. “We have amazing organizations led by communities of color, and we have a lot of talented emerging leaders of color.” He believes that we just need to support them so they can do even more awesome things. After realizing he wanted to do community work, he got a degree but couldn’t get a job because of lack of experience. Vu was accepted into a similar program and learned a lot through it. The program kept him in the sector and allowed him to keep doing the work he loves. Vu is the former Executive Director of the Vietnamese Friendship Association. Fun Fact: Vu is the author behind the nonprofit humor blog, nonprofitwithballs.com.
Ananda Valenzuela, Managing Director, [email protected].
Ananda grew up in Puerto Rico and has slowly made her way across the continental United States, finally landing in Seattle to pursue her passion of doing capacity-building and leadership development with social impact organizations. She most recently worked at Third Sector New England, a nonprofit capacity-building firm, where she managed a consulting program and developed a fellowship program. She has also held a variety of consultant, governance and activist roles within the nonprofit sector. Ananda has a B.A. in organizational development and institutional ethnography from Hampshire College. Fun Fact: Ananda is wonderfully geeky. When she is not out having adventures, she can be found playing intense board games or reading a book cover-to-cover.
Abesha Shiferaw, Program Director, [email protected].
Abesha grew up all over Seattle, but has been living in the Rainier Valley for the past 11 years. After returning from college in San Francisco, she became very involved in community work and volunteering here in Seattle. Abesha is passionate about building community and empowering communities of color, in all their forms, to speak for themselves, to be at the decision-making tables, and to be the force of change for the issues and challenges that are the result of institutional and systemic failures. Fun fact: Abesha loves art and is currently exploring painting, photography, and documentary filmmaking. Her favorite person is James Baldwin and is often caught quoting Baldwin at any point in time.
Chris Rhodes, Development Director, [email protected].
Originally from Seattle, Chris was first exposed to the non-profit community as a counselor for the Variety Boys & Girls Club. He continued his community involvement working with King County Executive Ron Sims as the Youth Board Member of the King County Youth and Family Commission. While attending Clark Atlanta University, he became a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. and of The Prince Hall Masonic Order. Both organizations allowed for Chris to serve his new community of Atlanta where his service was specifically directed towards raising funds to support the disadvantaged areas of the city. He then relocated to Chicago, where he worked with city and state government to address various educational and environmental issues plaguing the city. Chris is an avid fan of both Lord of the Rings and his hometown favorites, Seahawks and Mariners. He spends his spare time with his family and enjoys taking advantage of all to see in the great Northwest.
Jaleh Sadravi, Development and Communications Manager, [email protected].
Jaleh has lived a nomadic life; she was born in California and spent most of her life in Columbus, Ohio. Jaleh has a B.A. in Communications and Radio/TV/Film from Capital University and a M.S. in Digital Media from Valparaiso University. Jaleh is passionate about service to the community and she spent two years serving as a City Year Corps Member after college. Fun Fact: Jaleh spent two weeks as a pilgrim, walking 307 kilometers on the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
Uma Rao, Capacity Building Coach, [email protected].
Uma is a 2nd generation South Asian who grew up on the east coast and has made Seattle her home since 2004. She has spent over 15 years in the non profit sector; her roles have been to organize communities, serve on boards, train, and to raise funds, mostly within and for communities of color. Uma believes that strong movements include grassroots philanthropy, community based strategies and leadership development, and is absolutely thrilled to join Rainier Valley Corps in exact alignment with her vision! She’s a lifelong learner and is grateful for her mentors, peers, family and community. Some of her most favorite things to do include obsessing over her dog, listening to great stories, and dancing to loud music in the mornings. Fun Fact: Uma is always on the search for Seattle’s best french fries, her opinions about this can be found on her blog.
Jaleesa Smiley, Development and Operations Coordinator, [email protected].
Jaleesa Smiley is a recent graduate of Western Washington University with a BA in American Cultural Studies with a focus in Education and Social Justice. Jaleesa comes from a legacy of brilliant, self-determined, and ingenious black women and she carries their spirit with her wherever she move in the world. Jaleesa is involved in this work because of her passion for racial equity, social justice, and community involvement. She is excited be involved in work that has an impact on communities, specifically communities of color.
Osca Opoku, Operations Associate, [email protected].
Osca is a recent graduate of Elon University where she earned B.A’s in International & global studies, and Anthropology. She is passionate about issues of social justice and has performed undergraduate research on education as a catalyst for social change for refugees, and families stuck in cycles of poverty. She is passionate about supporting communities in clarifying and achieving their goals for themselves. Having recently regained access to a functional kitchen she is trying to make up for the lost years of dorm living by cooking and baking her way to the level of master chef.
Mina Le, Volunteer, [email protected].
Mina Le is a refugee from Vietnam who grew up in Los Angeles. She has lived a nomadic life, from New York and Washington DC. She served as Executive Director of LAVAS to Hong Kong and Taiwan where spent seven years working with the Hsinchu Catholic Diocese to combat the human trafficking of Vietnamese brides & migrant workers there. Currently, Mina is an active volunteer for Vietnamese Friendship Association and a partner at Social Venture Partners in Seattle. Fun Fact: Mina competed in her first triathlon in Taiwan and is perpetually in “training mode” for her next as-yet-to-be-determined event.
Jon Kauffman, Volunteer, [email protected].
Jon is a newcomer to the non-profit world, focusing on capacity development. He’s thrilled to be invited as a learner to join in social justice work in Seattle. Prior to joining RVC as a volunteer in 2015, he spent 24 years in program management at Microsoft, where he did product design, project management, mergers and acquisitions, strategy development, and leadership and organizational development in business productivity software. He is a partner at Social Venture Partners where he’s worked on grant making in kindergarten readiness. He grew up in Texas and has lived in Seattle since 1990. He is married with two children who like camping, reading, video games, and getting dirty.