A Coast Salish canoe approaches Pier 62 from the west.

Canoe Landing at Salmon Homecoming 2022. Photo by Erik Holsather.

Community Partnership Committees

In 2022, Friends developed two Community Partnership Committees, the Pulling Together Committee, consisting of Indigenous community organizers and leaders, and the Community Connections Committee, consisting of BIPOC community organizers and leaders. These citizen advisory committees provide recommendations and feedback in support of Friends’ inclusion and racial equity impact.

As we anticipate the completion and opening of Waterfront Park in 2025, there is a critical need for strategic visioning and planning to ensure that all communities, particularly those that have been historically excluded – youth, seniors, people with disabilities, and BIPOC – have access to enjoyable cultural and recreational opportunities and the economic benefits of Waterfront Park.

Canoe Landing at Salmon Homecoming 2022. Photo by Raven's Tale Studio.

Canoe Landing at Salmon Homecoming 2022. Photo by Raven's Tale Studio.

Pulling Together Committee (PTC)

The Pulling Together Committee convenes members of our local Tribal leaders, community members, and Urban Natives from the greater Puget Sound region to support the goals and objectives of Friends of Waterfront Seattle through the inclusion of Indigenous voices, values, and interests by assessing Friends’ community engagement and partnerships efforts, public programs, events, and activities at Seattle’s Waterfront.

PTC has centered their recommendations, feedback, and evaluations specifically to Friends’ focus on Indigenous communities and Indigenous representation in public programs, community engagement, partnerships, and other community-centric aspects of Friends’ work. PTC is currently facilitated by Jordan Remington, Friends’ Public Programs Manager & Curator of Indigenous Programs. The Pulling Together Committee will also be expanding its Indigeneity membership to include Indigenous community members of the US, Canada, and Mexico.

Africatown's Soul on the Waterfront event in 2022. Photo by OutsideThinc.

Africatown's Soul on the Waterfront event in 2022. Photo by OutsideThinc.

Community Connections Committee (C3)

The Community Connections Committee convenes individuals from various communities throughout Seattle and the Puget Sound region, who are exclusively from marginalized groups and/or identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color. C3 is also joined by two additional members of the Friends’ board to oversee and advance Friends’ inclusion and social equity efforts on the Board of Directors level.

C3’s feedback has centered on assessing whether the community engagement, partnership building, public programming, and other decisions made by Friends are meeting and exceeding cultural, civic engagement, educational, recreational, vending, and other pertinent needs and values identified by communities traditionally left out of engagement efforts and public programming initiatives, particularly in parks.

C3 is currently facilitated by Sarneshea Evans, DEI convener and facilitation contractor who previously served as Friends’ Community Impact Manager.

Coming soon: Accessibility Committee

Friends is planning the launch of the Accessibility Committee, which will bring together leaders and representatives of disability communities in Seattle and Puget Sound. This committee will convene people who identify as persons with disabilities, have a user’s perspective, have personal experience with disability and advocacy; can speak broadly on disability issues opposed to only addressing personal needs, or who are knowledgeable about a variety of physical, communication, and program access issues (hearing, vision, mobility, speech, cognitive limitations, etc.).

This committee will provide feedback on improving Friends’ understanding and responsiveness to a diverse audience of people with disabilities. It is our intention for the Accessibility Committee members to support the facilitation of two-way communication with the disability community they are representing and advise the development of creative solutions that will eradicate barriers and produce recommendations that serve the mutual interest of the communities, businesses, and organizations impacted by Waterfront Park.

I wanted to be a part of this committee because I respect and appreciate what they are trying to do for the community. I will always be a supporter of inclusivity, access for all, and awareness. Everyone should feel welcome in their community and I believe the C3 meetings help us understand how that can be done with diligence and effectiveness. Velma Chaney C3 Member
The Pulling Together committee is in Partnership with Friends of the Waterfront and Potlatch Fund and is conducting important work with thoughtfulness and excellence! Keep up the fabulous community engagement! Gunalcheesh! Ellany Kayce PTC Member
It is such an honor to share space and ideas with a crew of brilliant, passionate, and dope folks. I love learning from my fellow committee members in an environment that celebrates who we are as individuals and representatives of our respective organizations and communities. 10/10! Taelore Rhoden C3 Member
I was asked to join by a respected person in my tribe and community. This is the only committee I've been asked to join outside of my tribe and I enjoyed my time on it. I loved meeting new people and hearing of the things they are doing. Crystal Purcell PTC Member
I joined Community Connections Committee because of what this committee stands for—equity, care, and cultural & historic preservation. With Friends & C3, their values are always aligned with action. I love yall! Tracey Wong C3 Member

2023 PTC Members

Ellany Kayce (Tlingit)

Consultant/ Facilitator/ DEI Trainer

Ellany Kayce is an enrolled tribal member of the Tlingit Nation, Raven Clan. Throughout her career she’s worked as a racial, environmental Indigenous and social justice educator and program developer, cultural consultant, event planner, coordinator, facilitator, trainer, curriculum developer, contract manager, and fundraiser.  Ellany is Native American/Alaska Native SME and has life-long experience working with Alaska Native, Native American, First Nations communities, and is a trainer, traditional drummer, singer, and dancer, and activist.  She has over 10,000 hours of facilitation experience

Jessica Juarez-Wagner

Program Manager, Potlach Fund

Jessica was born and raised in Seattle, and loves this city probably more than is normal. She currently works at Potlatch Fund and enjoys being in community.

John Bailey (Muckleshoot)

Jordan Remington (Quileute)

Public Programs Manager and Curator of Indigenous Programs, Friends of Waterfront Seattle

Ixtli White Hawk (Mexico/Indo Pochteca)

Co-Director, Ancestral Sisterhood

Karama Blackhorn (Kahosadi)

Culture Diversity & Equity Senior Manager, Seattle Aquarium

Edna Wyena (Yakima & Muckleshoot)

Executive Director, Unkitawa

My name is Edna Wyena, an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Yakama Nation. Last of the Wanapum, meaning Last of the River People, is how I am known by my people.

I love to connect and engage with professionals with the same interests. I love to learn, travel, and spend time with my family. It is a dream of mine to excel to the highest degree and make my ancestors proud. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Tribal Governance and Business Management from the Northwest Indian College, with strong knowledge of tribal sovereignty rights and tribal government. Along with a Master of Public Administration from Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. I had the great honor to attend Harvard Business School and received a certificate for Leading People and Investing to Build Sustainable Communities.

Gina Corpuz (Indipino)

Project Administrator, Indipino Community of Bainbridge Island | Executive Producer, "Honor Thy Mother: the Untold Story of Aboriginal Women and their Indipino Children "

Gina Corpuz is the daughter of Evelyn Williams of the Squamish Nation in BC Canada and Anacleto Corpuz of LA Union. Philippines. She was born and raised on a 20-acre raspberry farm on Bainbridge Island with her five sisters and graduated from Bainbridge High School. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Ethnic Studies from Antioch University Seattle and a Masters in Education, Curriculum and Instruction, from the University of Washington. Gina co-developed the first Indian Ed Program on Bainbridge and has administered Indigenous Sudies Programs for Evergreen State College, Northern Arizona University, and NWIC. Gina is the  Executive Producer of the award winning documentary “Honor Thy Mother: the Untold Story of Aboriginal Women and their Indipino Children.” She has one son, Jason, and five grandchildren. She and her husband, Alex, currently live in Bellingham, Washington.

Jessica Hernandez (Binnizá & Maya Ch’orti’)

Climate Change and Land Tenure Specialist, Landesa | Boardmember, Sustainable Seattle

Dr. Jessica Hernandez (Binnizá & Maya Ch’orti’) is a transnational Indigenous scholar, scientist, and community advocate based in the Pacific Northwest. She has an interdisciplinary academic background ranging from marine sciences to environmental physics. She advocates for climate, energy, and environmental justice through her scientific and community work and strongly believes that Indigenous sciences can heal our Indigenous lands.

She is the author of the award-winning book, ​Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes through Indigenous Science. She is currently in the process of writing her second book, Growing Papaya Trees: Nurturing Indigenous Roots of Climate Displacement & Justice. Hernandez has been named by Forbes as one of the 100 most powerful & influential women of Central America.

Mercedes Luna (Tlingit/Japanese/Filipino)

Director of Individual Giving, Wing Luke Museum

Mercedes Luna (she/her) is the Director of Individual Giving at the Wing Luke Museum. Mercedes joined the Wing in 2021. In her role she works alongside Executive leadership to strategize, develop and grow the museum’s donor program. She oversees the implementation of the museum’s overall donor and community-centered fundraising strategy, major gifts and stewardship, portfolio management and fundraising events.

Mercedes received her BA in American Ethnic Studies and Certificate in Fundraising Management from the University of Washington.

A fourth generation Seattlite, Japanese and Filipino American and enrolled member of the Tlingit tribe, Mercedes is proud to continue to support her local communities and cultural preservation efforts. Outside of work you can usually find her cheering on the Seahawks and Huskies, in any of Seattle’s independent bookstores pursuing a new book or on the hunt for the best matcha latte.

Tim Reynon (Puyallup Tribe)

Tribal Relations Director, City of Seattle

Tim Reynon is an enrolled member of the Puyallup Tribe and a former member of the Puyallup Tribal Council.  He currently serves as the Tribal Relations Director for the City of Seattle’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations.  Tim served his tribe for over 22 years as a tribal attorney, Executive Director of Human Resources, Training, and Education, People Operations Director/Compliance Officer, and Council Member.  Tim has served on multiple tribal, state, local, and community-based task forces, committees, commissions, and coalitions, and brings a diverse background of knowledge and experience to his work at the City and in his community. Tim earned his Juris Doctorate degree from Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark School of Law and his Bachelor of Social Work degree from BYU-Hawaii. Tim is a member of the Washington State Bar Association and is a past President of the Northwest Indian Bar Association. Most importantly, Tim is a husband and father of three Puyallup young men.

Mark Colson (Chehalis/Skokomish)

Cultural Bearer

Melanie Montgomery (Quinault)

PTC Facilitator

Melanie Montgomery is a member of the Quinault Indian Nation and is currently the COO of the Shandel Group, a consulting firm that focuses on leadership development. Within this role, she guides individuals, teams and organizations on their journey of leadership development, executive coaching and organizational development initiatives. She also serves as the Board President for Native Action Network. After spending 17 years dedicated to a career in Hospitality and Gaming, Melanie transitioned into consulting to pursue her passion, leadership!

Before joining the Shandel Group, Melanie served as the Executive Director of Hospitality at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino (QBRC), located in Ocean Shores, Washington. Within this position, she oversaw the Food & Beverage and Hotel Departments. She was also able to explore her passion of leadership more deeply, being able to make a positive impact on the success of her team and the culture and morale of the organization. Throughout her career in the Hospitality and Gaming industries, she gained experience in many different roles, including Hotel Management, Human Resources and Vacation Rentals. She also served for 3 years on the Quinault Nation Enterprise Board, as Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, prior to returning to QBRC in her previous capacity.

Melanie is dedicated to being a lifelong learner and continues to emphasize education as an important component of her growth. In May of 2020, she earned her Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership, with a concentration in Change Leadership from Gonzaga University and has participated in many continuing education programs, such as the University of Washington certificate program focused on Tribal Gaming and Hospitality, and Leadership Grays Harbor. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Business Management from Washington State University in 2010. Melanie is also an alumna of the third Legacy of Leadership Cohort through Native Action Network.

Finding opportunities to stay involved in the community has always been important to Melanie, as she took on many roles throughout her education and career. She enjoys being able to give back and impact her community in a positive way and intends to build her career around making a difference.

2023 C3 Members

José Vázquez

Director of DEI and Incubation, Ventures

Joseph Guanlao

Development & Communication Manager, Seattle Chinatown International District PDA

Taelore Rhoden

Director of Community Engagement, Historic Seattle

Taelore is a connector and dreamer who uses experience creation and storytelling to build, empower, and resource community. A native of south Seattle, she is a proud graduate of Garfield High School and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Pepperdine University. She’s worn many hats throughout her career in events and communications and has had the privilege of working with and in various communities locally and nationally, including artists and creatives, BIPOC-owned small businesses, startups, nonprofits & community organizations, civics/history/historic preservation groups, and arts organizations. Her driver is service – being a connector, supporter, and doer for dope people, places, and ideas.

Tracey Wong

Communications Manager, Totem Star | Dance Educator, The Beacon: Massive Monkees Studio

Tracey Wong 黃麗塋 (she/her) is a queer Teochew-American dancer, educator, student, and community space holder. She was born and raised on Duwamish Land/ Seattle, WA in the Southend, Beacon Hill, Central District, and Chinatown-ID and is the daughter of loving parents who were refugees from Vietnam. Tracey takes pride in representing her birthplace and continues to create spaces that empower many, especially for women, queer folks, and communities of color.

She has had the privilege to travel around the world to showcase, teach, judge, and compete and has won titles in Waacking such as Ladies of Hip Hop LA (2019), Waack, Crackle Lock (2019), and Vancouver Street Dance Festival (2018), in freestyle battles such as Vancity Get Lite 2v2 (2023), 4theluvofit (2022), and more.

She would not be here today without the support of her loved ones and elders that have paved the way.

Velma Chaney

Resource Manager, Pike Place Market Foundation/Market Commons

Britt Lê

Senior Project Manager, Earth Corps

Hello! My name is Britt. I’ve been involved the environmental sector in the PNW for the past nine years, give or take. Most of this time has been spent working on trail crews and managing volunteer programs for a few non-profits in the region. My parents are Vietnam War-era immigrants, and I grew up in the suburbs of South Florida. I’m at my best when I’m outdoors, and I love connecting with other people while spending time outside together. I’m looking forward to connecting with other members of this group to contribute to a vision for what Seattle’s waterfront can look like in the future. In my spare time I like to backpack, ride around on my bike, and sew (poorly).

Victor Loo

Principal Consultant, Victor Loo Consulting

Victor Loo (he/him) places equity and justice front and centered, and is a principal consultant, executive coach, strategist, national leader who addresses health disparities and leads with equity. He is a national leader with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – Health Resources and Services Administration (SAMHSA-HRSA) Center for Integrated Health Solutions’ Addressing Health Disparities Leadership Program, and a national leader with the National Council for Mental Wellbeing’s Healthy Youth Leadership Institute. He represents United States Department of Health & Human Services’ Region 10 – Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington on the National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health Steering Committee, serves on the Washington State Commit to Change Steering Committee, represents Seattle,King County as an Equity Ambassador with Nonprofit Association of Washington, serves on the Homeless Service Providers Study Advisory Committee in partnership with BDS Planning & Urban Design, Washington State Department of Commerce and D-FINE Concepts, and represents community stakeholders to serve with elected officials representing the King County Council, Seattle City Council and Sound Cities Association on the King County Board of Health.

Besides the compassion, passion and vision to serve Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI), immigrants, and refugees, homeless, unhoused and unsheltered individuals; he is also an active community advocate/leader for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

Angela Hewitson

Maritime Community Development Specialist, Northwest Maritime Center & Maritime High School

As Maritime Community Development Specialist at the Maritime High School, Angela bring ten years in the maritime industry, across a variety of roles, including research, fisheries, boatbuilding, public engagement, and education. Angela brings a special expertise in the connection between maritime and social justice, as a Chicana hailing from the Inland Empire with experience working in settings ranging from the Southeast Alaska purse seining fleet to community development research off Isle au Haut, Maine. Most recently, she led public engagement efforts for Northwest Maritime Center, working to connect people across communities with transformative maritime experiences and serves on the Board of Directors at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding. In her current role, Angela aims to deepen connections between the maritime industry, regional partners and underrepresented youth and their communities.

Sina Sam

Program Equity Speciality for Seattle Housing Authority

Born in a refugee camp on the Thai-Cambodian border, Sina Sam is a proud 1.5 generation Khmer American, refugee, and daughter of Cambodian Genocide survivors. She was raised in Seattle and educated at Seattle Colleges, UW and WSU. Appointed as the first Cambodian woman Commissioner on the Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (CAPAA) of Washington State, Sina led CAPAA’s Civil Rights and Immigration Committee work as Chair during her tenure. Passionate about immigrants’ rights and issues disproportionately impacting underserved communities, she is a longstanding community advocate and experienced organizer with organizations such as: Khmer Advocacy & Advancement Group (KhAAG), Formerly Incarcerated Group Healing Together (F.I.G.H.T.), Planned Parenthood, Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP), WA State Democratic Central Committee (WSDCC), Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN), Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), and Asian Pacific Islander Coalition (APIC).

 

Previously based between eastern WA and Washington DC, Sina is now back in Seattle and excited to reconnect with community! Currently, she also serves as an advisor on programming with the Wing Luke Museum and volunteers with the Pike Place Market Foundation and Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA). Involved in many local events all year around, she encourages residents and visitors alike to get out to enjoy the Seattle Waterfront, too. Sina says, “the waterfront is even more magical than I remember as a kid. Local conservation and revitalization efforts are restorative when Pacific NW history and people, especially historically under-represented communities are not only being celebrated, but leading in shared visioning of our lands and seas. With thoughtful stewardship and partnership, I hope our uniquely beautiful Salish Sea will be around for generations to come to enjoy in views and deep connections, too.”

Jaykub Rafael

Student, University of Washington

Undergraduate student at the University of Washington studying Community, Environment,  and Planning

Priya Frank

Director of Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion, Seattle Art Museum

Amy Cheng

Bartender, SZN Seattle

Eze Oluo

Just a regular-basic Seattle dude

Margo Jones

Creative Consultant/ Wardrobe professional

Rosendo Ayala

Founder/Organizer, Disco-nnection

Rosendo Ayala is an event curator known amongst the West Coast. Widely known for always bringing something different; people now come from far and wide to see what new concept is next. While in Southern California he founded and ran a popular event known as Genki Nights, Genki Night’s goal was to serve as the bridge between the Los Angeles and San Diego street dance communities. Teachers and DJs were brought in from across the globe to educate and share with the community. Later on he joined the board for LA Hustle Movement and helped multiply their numbers through his creative perspective and determination to grow a community. Upon moving to Seattle he co-founded a new collective called Hustle & Soul, this was aimed to do what Genki Nights was doing and what LA Hustle Movement was building all in one. He also founded a new event called Spring Break Battle who’s first edition brought in dancers from across the globe. Rosendo now serves as a mentor and advisor to many first time event curators and hopes to inspire a new generation of dancers who will continue to think outside the box

Olive Goh

Board Member, Friends of Waterfront Seattle

Tom Byers

Board Member, Friends of Waterfront Seattle

Sarneshea Evans

C3 Facilitator

Daughter of Red Clay & Sol, LLC

Founder

For over 10 years, Sarneshea Evans has worked with students, community members, and community-based organizations to connect people to parks and public spaces. Much of her work has been focused on the co-creation of spaces and experiences that are welcoming, inclusive, and culturally relevant for those who have traditionally been excluded.

Prior to relocating to Seattle, Sarneshea lived in Washington, D.C. where she had the privilege of working for an environmental justice non-profit and later the National Park Service where she supported and advanced urban environmental education, community building and partnerships, youth programs, and special initiatives throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

While in Seattle, she has supported and led community engagement strategies as well as policy and advocacy initiatives that aim to increase access to public land and transit for communities across Washington that have historically lacked equitable access. Currently, she serves as the Northwest Parks for People Program Director for the Trust for Public Land.

Sarneshea actively serves on several committees and boards including King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks’ Open Space Equity Cabinet, Healthy Communities and Parks Advisory Committee, and the Conservation Futures Tax Match Waiver Subcommittee; King County Metro’s Mobility Equity Cabinet; Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office’s Planning for Recreation Access Grant Committee and Community Outdoor Athletic Facilities Fund Advisory Committee; and Washington Department of Health’s Park Rx Task Force.

She is also a board member of the Duwamish River Community Coalition.

Sarneshea is a graduate of Howard University and holds a master’s degree in urban environmental education.

Timothy Corey

Membership Benefits and Incentives

Members are compensated $75 for each meeting and end-of-year interview

For in-person meetings, members are provided parking reimbursements

Members will have the opportunity to network with all committee members and share initiatives, events, and other news during meetings

Members will have direct communication with various department members at Friends to provide their recommendations for ongoing projects