Women of Color Empowered is a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 by the Northwest Asian Weekly. The organization consists of professional women who want to enhance the quality of life for women of all races and backgrounds by supporting one another through programs and events that foster self-improvement and networking skills, by providing opportunities to build cross-cultural and multi-generational relationships, and promoting community services.
This is the 18th year that Women of Color Empowered has hosted a luncheon recognizing extraordinary women who have achieved career success while making a positive impact on their profession and local community. The women who are this year’s “Rising Stars — Young Female Professionals Making a Difference” will be honored Friday, May 2, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at China Harbor Restaurant in Seattle. “Rising Star” is defined as a woman in her early 40s or younger who is growing quickly in importance and/or prominence in her field.
Andrea Ximena Cortés-Beltrán
Andrea was born in Austin, Texas, and raised in Guadalajara. Cortés-Beltrán dreamed of being a teacher, and became a certified ESL teacher at age 17. She earned an engineering degree at Universidad del Valle de Atemajac, and soon after moved to Seattle. Through the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), she planned and executed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) activities for students and encouraged them to go to college. She earned a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering in 2012 from the University of Washington. She is an Executive Development Institute alumna, and currently works as an industrial engineer at The Boeing Company. She enjoys volunteering for Boeing’s community events that promote diversity and inclusion.
In September 2012, Pintak joined Global to Local to develop and implement the Connection Desk, a volunteer program that connects HealthPoint patients and South King County community members to social resources that will support their overall health and wellbeing. She now serves as the program manager for the Connection Desk and also the Affordable Care Act In-Person Assister Program for Global to Local.
She has experience working with immigrant populations as a program assistant for a “Parents and Tots Program” in Vancouver, B.C., as a research assistant for the Center for Alternative Medicine at the Boston Medical Center, and as a community health mentor at the Seattle World School, mentoring local immigrant and refugee adolescents on a variety of health topics. Pintak believes in community-based strategies as an appropriate and effective method to address health and social issues for vulnerable populations in low resource communities locally. Pintak holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of British Columbia and a MSW from the University of Washington. She speaks Indonesian and Spanish.
A third-generation Washingtonian, Courtney Gregoire brings substantial international trade experience from both the public and private sectors to the Port of Seattle, where she was appointed commissioner in February.
Gregoire currently works as an attorney for Microsoft, focusing on unfair competition and international trade, and serves on the Seattle Community Colleges board of trustees. Previously, she served as the first director of the National Export Initiative at the U.S. Department of Commerce for President Obama. She was named deputy chief of staff for the department in 2011.
Before joining the Obama Administration, she served as legislative director and chief counsel for U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell. She graduated from Willamette University in Salem, Ore., and received her law degree from Harvard Law School.
Erica Buckley is an associate attorney at Buckley & Associates located in Seattle’s International District. In her five years of practice, she has successfully resolved over 250 cases and collected millions of dollars for her clients.
Buckley’s other passion is volunteer work. She has donated many hours of pro bono work helping those who cannot afford legal representation. She is a member of the Junior League of Seattle, and the Treehouse Young Professionals board, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of foster children.
Buckley graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Tufts University in Medford, Mass., and from the University of San Diego School of Law. She is admitted to practice law in Washington and California and is a member of multiple professional organizations, including the National Bar Association, the Loren Miller Bar Association, Washington State Association for Justice, and others.
She was born and raised in Tacoma and currently lives in West Seattle.
Marci is the Program & Events manager for the Executive Development Institute (EDI), a nonprofit organization that provides leadership development training for Asian Pacific Islander and Hispanic professionals in the Pacific Northwest. Prior to EDI, she was an audit manager at Deloitte & Touche. She was responsible for financial statement and internal control audits for such clients as Boeing, Sellen Construction, Tacoma Public Utilities, and Itron.
Nakano graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in accounting and a minor in Japanese. She is a fourth-generation Japanese American and was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii. She is a member of Seattle Rotary #4, the largest Rotary Club in the world.
As regional director of operations for Panda Express, Orr oversees the day-to-day operations of 54 locations in the states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana. She started her Panda journey in 2003 as a general manager in Northgate Mall in Seattle and quickly rose through the ranks, serving in leadership positions such as training leader, multi-unit manager, and area coach of operations. In 2011, she became regional director and now leads more than 800 associates.
Recently, Orr proudly completed her first half marathon in Seattle and has not stopped there. She is registered for two more half marathons this year in Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle.
Orr is a graduate of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University with a bachelor of science degree in hotel and food service management. She has lived in Hong Kong, Cyprus, and Germany, and has traveled to more than 20 countries and 100 cities. She and her husband, Geoff, live in Issaquah.
Mia Gregerson is a first-term member of the state House of Representatives from the 33rd Legislative District. A Democrat, she is vice chair of the House Committee on Local Government and also serves on the Community Development, Housing, and Tribal Affairs Committee and the Higher Education Committee. In the 2014 legislative session she successfully sponsored bills to increase protection for homeowners facing foreclosure, to bring more efficiency to state colleges and universities, to promote taxpayer fairness, and to safeguard benefits for public-safety workers.
Before her appointment to the House by the King County Council in late 2013 to complete an unexpired term, Gregerson served as a council member and deputy mayor for the city of SeaTac. While on the council, she served on the executive board of the Puget Sound Regional Council, the board of directors for Sound Cities Association, and other regional committees.
Gregerson has been a surgical assistant and business manager in the dental field for more than 16 years. She has degrees from Highline Community College and the University of Washington. She is a native of Taiwan, adopted in infancy by an American couple who raised her in Washington state.
Monisha Harrell is a proud graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle, and attended college at Columbia University in New York City. After 10 years in New York, she returned home to Seattle and received her MBA from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. She owns and operates a small marketing firm, Rule Seven, focused on community outreach strategies, brand development and market research, and has worked on a number of political campaigns across King and Snohomish Counties.
Harrell has served as a board fellow for Lifelong AIDS Alliance, and currently serves on the boards for the Institute for a Democratic Future, the 21st Legislative District Democrats, and as board chair for Equal Rights Washington.
Her past work experience includes roles at Amazon, Starbucks, JWT Specialized Communications, American Management Association, Sesame Street Home Video, and FX Television.
Rebecca Saldaña leads Puget Sound Sage’s Community Benefits and Development program focused on equitable transit oriented development. She connects Sage’s original research, policy smarts, and strategic campaign and coalition skills to community-led campaigns from the Rainier Beach Transit Justice Youth, Got Green’s Target Local Hire campaign, and the formation of South Communities Organizing for Regional/Racial Equity. She has also contributed her talent to broader policy wins, including the $15 minimum wage in SeaTac and a low-income fare for King County bus riders. From organizing for janitor and farm worker justice to serving as Congressman McDermott’s Labor & Housing Liaison, Saldaña brings more than 15 years of experience in building faith, labor, and community coalitions for economic and social change. A graduate of Seattle University, Saldaña was born and raised in Seattle.
Sahar Fathi is a policy analyst for the Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. She has served as a legislative aide to Councilmember Mike O’Brien on the Seattle City Council and as a legal clerk for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Fathi graduated from the University of Washington Law School and is a member of the New York bar. She also earned a master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Washington, and graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California with a dual bachelor of arts in French and International Relations. Additionally, she attended the Sorbonne Université in Paris, France, on exchange from 2003 to 2004 and received a diploma in international and European law from the Université Jean-Moulin in Lyon, France, in 2008.
Fathi has worked on immigrant and refugee issues for 10 years. She was named one of the “Smartest People in Seattle Politics” by The Stranger in 2013 and was named one of the “Seattle’s Smartest Global Women” by The Seattle Globalist in 2014.
Fathi is fluent in Farsi and French. She has been published in the Seattle Journal for Social Justice, the Seattle Journal of Environmental Law, and the Gonzaga Law Review.
Sara E. Asatiani
Sara E. Asatiani, CRPS®, is currently a vice president of wealth management, financial planning specialist, and financial adviser at Morgan Stanley in Seattle, where she is also called the “CEO” — Chief Enthusiasm Officer.
Asatiani specializes in holistic financial planning for women. She is passionately dedicated to building confidence in her female clients to ensure “true security, independence, and peace of mind.”
Sara has been licensed since 1997 as a general securities representative Series 7, uniform state agent series 63, investment advisory agent 65 licenses, and holds a Washington State insurance license. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado, where she received her bachelor of science degree in finance in 1999.
Asatiani joined Morgan Stanley in 2000. She is a Blue Chip council member, and has been recognized as a Pacesetter for Growth among her peers at Morgan Stanley.
Most recently in 2013, she co-founded W@MS, Women at Morgan Stanley, a board of professional women committed to education, empowerment, and ongoing transformative change for women in the community.
Seiko Yamashita is an adult mental health program clinical supervisor at Therapeutic Health Services. She holds a master of science degree in applied psychology, mental health counseling emphasis, from Eastern Washington University.
After graduating from EWU, Yamashita worked as a mental health case manager and a therapist for three years at Navos Mental Health Solutions on the older adult outreach community team. For the next six years, she was the lead clinician for that team. She worked five years for LifeWire as a therapist and the clinical director. She developed the mental health and case management programs for LifeWire, and provided individual and group therapy for program participants, supervised other therapists and interns, and provided mental health consultation for domestic violence advocates — both in that agency and throughout King County.
Yamashita has provided workshops on mental health, aging, domestic violence, crisis intervention, sexual abuse, therapy with older adults, and the intersection between medical and psychological problems.
Tera Beach is the deputy district director for Congressman Jim McDermott, and was the key staff person working with the Wing Luke Museum toward its designation by former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar as a National Park Service Affiliated Area. Congressman McDermott led a coalition of nine members of Congress who requested the Wing’s designation, a rare recognition of an Asian Pacific American site as one of America’s cultural treasures.
In her 15 years on Congressman McDermott’s staff, Beach has served as an essential connector for Seattle’s arts community with a senior member of Congress. She is also dedicated to the project to restore honor to the African American veterans of Fort Lawton, who were unjustly court martialed in 1944.
In her volunteer work, Beach mentors youth in global leadership skills and advocates against bullying, as part of One World Now, the Committee for Children, the World Affairs Council, and other community programs. While attending Ballard High School, she was a SeaFair ambassador who served as a member of the first post-conflict delegation of Americans to visit Vietnam. (end)