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Aimie Kawai, Development Director

Aimie Kawai (she/they) joined the team at the beginning of 2017. A Seattle native, Aimie brings a passion for local grassroots work and a background in youth development and nonprofit education. Aimie believes in the power of community, and that by investing in the strengths of our people, we can bring about a more just world. Aimie’s many years of work in nonprofit capacity-building has been strengthened by their experiences working with youth. Through coaching ultimate frisbee for ages ranging from six to eighteen, as well as time spent in middle school curriculum development, Aimie has learned to prioritize listening to the strengths of individuals and adapting the work to encourage leadership and opportunities for others.

Amira Qabar, Volunteer Engagement Manager

Amira (she/her) grew up in Washington state and has been working in the non-profit field throughout King County since 2016. Prior to joining Communities Rise, she primarily worked as a youth advocate and prevention educator, spending a majority of her career supporting youth experiencing intimate partner violence and facilitating presentations around healthy relationships. Amira is passionate about using her skills to support the many amazing non-profits and small businesses in our community and believes that we are stronger together! Outside of work, she enjoys mountain biking, playing video games, reading, and searching for the best matcha latte west of the Cascades.

Andrew Kashyap, Co-Executive Director, Legal Services

Andrew Kashyap (he/him) grew up in northern California and lived on the East Coast for many years before settling in Seattle since 2005. He has focused his career on providing legal support to grassroots organizations in marginalized communities because he passionately believes that systemic change is led by communities most impacted by systemic oppression. Andrew began this type of legal work in the aftermath of 9/11 in New York City where he helped Muslim and South Asian communities create organizations to counteract discrimination and racism.In Washington over the past 15 years he has continued on that path, providing legal support to BIPOC-led organizations to help achieve their visions of community power and transformative change. Andrew loves his family first, then bhangra, the Lakers, and boba! 

Annie Hout, Co-Executive Director, Finance and Operations

Annie Hout (she/her) was born and raised in Tacoma, WA. She is a former Communities Rise and Nonprofit Assistance Center board member. Annie most recently served as Development Director at The Washington Bus, a nonpartisan nonprofit focused on civic participation of young people in Washington State. Prior to that, she spent 6 years in University Advancement at Seattle University where she also earned a Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership. Away from the office, you can find her enjoying friends, family, and food, preferably all at the same time.

Ms. Bridgette Hempstead, Capacity Building Coach

Ms. Bridgette Hempstead is the founder and Executive Director of Cierra Sisters. Bridgette’s personal, hands-on coaching approach has and is changing the lives of women across the country. Her determination to educate and empower others comes out of her own experience with breast cancer. Bridgette is a 24-year three-time breast cancer survivor and she received her diagnosis on her 35th birthday. At the time, she found no resources for African American women. Therefore, she became the solution, and Cierra Sisters, was born. Bridgette is published in several medical journal and the most recent co author in JAMA medical journal. Bridgette is an engaging and effective speaker, a songwriter, and a soul piercing singer. She is a proud mother of 3 beautiful daughters and a grandmother of 2.

Brianna Jones, Co-Executive Director, Capacity Building

Brianna (they/them/theirs) is an organizer and creator out of Tacoma. Brianna brings a passion for liberation, true community building, and a desire to dismantle anti-Blackness to all of the work they do. In addition to the work they do here, they act as a consultant on LGBTQ+ policy development and education for multiple organizations in the Seattle/Tacoma area. They also co-organize with The People’s Assembly in Tacoma – a grassroots organization dedicated to empowering Black youth and combating anti-Blackness. Influenced by their positionality as a Queer/Trans Black person, Brianna is deeply passionate about creating affirming and empowering spaces for QTPOC to embrace themselves – while building a society that does the same. They are also passionate about music, chicken wings, and finding new ways to joke on their siblings.

Khyree Smith, Capacity Building Coach

Khyree Smith (he/they) is an Educator, Facilitator, and lifelong Seattleite who has worked in various roles within the Austin Foundation, OneWorld Now and Seattle University. Khyree has been fortunate to provide services for 1000s of youth and young adults throughout King County, often known commonly as “Coach Khyree”. Khyree believes in doing work “for the sake of the children”, holding the importance that any work you do should be in efforts to make a safe, happy and flourishing world for youth to grow up in, and to continue to live in as adults.

Livio De La Cruz, Nonprofit Attorney

Livio De La Cruz (he/him) is a nonprofit attorney who brings several years of experience building, growing, and supporting grassroots, nonprofit organizations. Originally born in the Dominican Republic, Livio grew up in New York and Arizona before moving to Seattle in 2014. Before law school, Livio was a talented software engineer who worked for independent videogame studios, virtual reality startups, and Microsoft. His interest in the law began when he became deeply involved with several local police accountability activist groups. Livio became a lawyer in order to deepen and amplify his contributions to these and other social movements. He quickly developed an interest and specialty in advising organizational clients on transactional legal matters—an unusual choice for a public-interest attorney. This specialization was directly informed by his real-world, first-hand experience in founding and working within grassroots nonprofits. When he’s not working or volunteering, Livio can often be found nerding out about game design, film, TV, music, and other works of art.

Silver Lee, Capacity Building Program Manager

Silver was born and raised in King County and is an advocate for anti-displacement and anti-gentrification in the CID and surrounding south Seattle area. Prior to Communities Rise they worked in capacity building for healthcare workers through interprofessional collaboration and they have a strong background in the affordable housing and homelessness sphere. Silver has a master’s in social work and a certificate in nonprofit management from the University of Washington. Silver is motivated to engage in supporting nonprofits and community-based agencies through their work. In their free time, Silver enjoys paddleboarding and berry picking.

Talya West, Small Business Attorney

Talya grew up in Türkiye and traveled around Europe and South America before moving to Seattle. She has provided legal support to non-profit organizations in the US and other countries around the world. She served as a board member in several non-profit organizations, most recently in the Middle Eastern Lawyers Association of Washington. Talya is passionate about intentional communities, immigration rights, and supporting women and BIPOC-led organizations to empower traditionally underserved communities. She loves traveling and reading, as well as tacos!

Zach Knowlton, Operations and Database Manager

Zach Knowlton (he/him) joined Communities Rise in 2022. Originally from Syracuse, NY, he came to Seattle by way of Washington, DC, where he spent six years working in non-profit partner engagement, helping organizations raise money through workplace giving campaigns. Through this work, he saw the importance of nonprofit support organizations, and he is excited to continue doing that work at Communities Rise while supporting them to make the Seattle area nonprofit and small business community stronger. Outside of work you can find him exploring the city, going to a concert, or watching way too much TV.