By Lisa Marien
Northwest Asian Weekly
Twelve honorees and “Rising Stars” were recognized May 15, at a luncheon held at the China Harbor Restaurant in Seattle.
The event was a celebration and collaboration of women who spoke about how they inspire and build communities. Master of ceremonies was Sonya Green, the first African American to hold the News Director position at KBCS. She was named 2011 Woman of the Year by the Bellevue chapter of the Business and Professional Women. The honorees included:
Zenzile Brooks, PhD, is the Marketing Manager for Glosten, a Seattle-based engineering consultancy focused on naval architecture, marine engineering, ocean engineering, and detailed design.
Zenzile’s inspirations and success are fueled by her father’s passion for “striving to capture joy when I go to work.”
Kia C. Franklin is an education advocate with a passion for equity and social justice.
She currently works as a Partnership Director for Equal Opportunity Schools, where she provides consulting and coaching services to school districts and high school administrators who are committed to increasing access to rigorous courses for underrepresented students.
Marisa Herrera, PhD, is the Executive Director of Community Building & Inclusion at the Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center at the University of Washington in Seattle. Marisa is a world traveler and has visited over 10 countries during her career. She is fluent in Spanish and American Sign Language.
Rita Meher is founder of TASVEER, an organization dedicated to showcase the talents of independent filmmakers from South Asia while giving them a platform to discuss many thought-provoking issues. The festival has become one of the largest independent film festivals in the entire Northwest.
Rita continues to remain a passionate storyteller. Recent events and collaborations with TASVEER include Community and Conversation: Depression and Anxiety; Menstrual Man, and Storywallahs: An Evening Of Storytelling.
Katie Wilson co-founded the Transit Riders Union in 2011, and has served as its elected General Secretary since 2012. Katie expressed her belief that “people will rise to the challenge for good leadership, social justice and change.”
Tracy M. Hilliard, Ph D, MPH, is the Director of Data Integrity for the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department. She leads strategy and innovation around the use of data to improve social services. She is also a Clinical Assistant Professor in the University of Washington (UW), School of Nursing, Department of Psychosocial & Community Health.
Tracy’s skills, leadership and active involvement in professional and community-based organizations were expressed as she recited a moving poem by Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise.”
Thanh Tan is a multimedia editorial writer. Prior to joining the editorial board of The Seattle Times, she was a political and general assignment reporter with local TV stations in Boise and Portland, an Emmy-winning reporter, producer, and host with Idaho Public Television, and a multimedia reporter / producer with The Texas Tribune in Austin. She has also contributed to “This American Life” and The New York Times. Born and raised in Olympia, Thanh graduated with honors from the University of Southern California. She currently resides in South Seattle.
She loves food, music, politics, films, yoga, the outdoors, and journalism.
Sonya Green is a media communications professional with more than 20 years broadcast experience. She is the first African American female to hold the News Director position at KBCS. Sonya was the emcee of this year’s Women of Color celebration. Her uplifting spirit and personable demeanor were well noted at this year’s event.
Andrea Akita is the Executive Director of InterIm Community Development Association (InterIm CDA), a nonprofit community development corporation in Seattle that works to promote resiliency among Asian American, Pacific Islander, immigrant and refugee communities. Andrea is inspired by Sonia Sanchez, a leading female voice of the Black Revolution and haiku poet.
Lani Cao graduated from the China University of Politics and Law. She focuses on immigration law, and her broad-reaching background and experience in family law, business law, and estate planning helps her better serve her immigration clients in a more thorough and thoughtful way.
Cao is an active member of the Chinese community in the greater Seattle area of Washington State. She served on a volunteer basis as the Principal of the Northwest Chinese School from 2007 to 2009.
Diana Lindner worked with Eastside Pathways, preparing children for success in life from prenatal to career. She is currently part of the subgroup early learning/school readiness. She manages the Reach Out and Read project also related to kindergarten readiness. She is active with Mujeres of the NW and the Eastside Latino Leadership Forum.
She continually communicates the importance of education. “Education starts early, each one, teach one.”
C. June Strickland is a citizen of the Cherokee nation, from the family of Hawkins. Since 1994 she has been a faculty member in the University of Washington School of Nursing. Her research focus is in prevention science, translational/transcultural research, with American Indians in the Pacific Northwest. “Find what you love to do and give what you love to do with your community.”
M. Lorena González, a nationally recognized attorney, civil rights leader, has recently served as a senior advisor and legal counsel to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.
She is the President Emeritus of OneAmerica, the State’s largest immigrant and civil rights organization. Lorena is currently running for a position on the city council of Seattle and her goal is to “continue to make the city of Seattle affordable for everyone.” (end)
Lisa Marien can be reached at email@example.com.