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Jodi Nishioka, Executive Director

Jodi Nishioka (she/her) has worked for over 20 years on behalf of low-income communities, particularly women, children and immigrant/refugee communities. She started her career as an attorney advocating for immigrant domestic violence survivors and single mothers fighting for child support in legal aid organizations in Boston and Honolulu. Jodi continued her work on behalf of women and children within state and city governments in Hawaii and Seattle and later with grassroots nonprofit organizations. Jodi enjoys her work because it combines her legal skills with her dedication to building power in communities of color and low-income communities. Jodi is also on the Board of Directors of JustLead Washington and enjoys practicing yoga, golfing and spending time with her family.

Aimie Kawai, Operations & Fund Development Manager

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.

Angeline Thomas, Attorney

Angeline Thomas (she/her) joined Communities Rise in 2020. She has a background in public interest law, policy, and nonprofit leadership and believes that the people most impacted by an issue should be the ones leading the movement. Most recently, Angeline served as the Executive Director of Washington Appleseed, a policy-focused nonprofit that leveraged pro bono attorney support to work on a variety of social justice issues. Prior to that, Angeline led a foreclosure prevention program at her alma mater, Seattle University School of Law, and served as non-partisan policy counsel at the Washington State Senate. Angeline was a 2017 JustLead Washington Leadership Academy Fellow and has served in a range of pro bono roles within the Alliance for Equal Justice. Born out of personal experience, Angeline is also passionate about the transformative power of grief and loss and is training to become a hospital chaplain. When not supporting communities with her legal skills or serving patients, families, and staff at the hospital, Angeline loves traveling the world with her spouse and young son, listening to books on tape, writing, cooking, and yoga.

Annie Hout, Deputy Director

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, hand 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.

Brenda Tausch Lapora, Director of Legal Services

Brenda Tausch Lapora (she/her) has a background in civil legal aid, veterans law, and assisting nonprofits with transactional matters. Brenda first started assisting low-income individuals and communities as an attorney on the Northwest Justice Project’s CLEAR legal hotline. Brenda’s previous work includes teaching and learning alongside Ethiopian law students at Haramaya University, launching a clinic for the Urban Justice Center’s Veteran Advocacy Project in New York City, and working for a brief stint as a dance company manager. She has served on the Board of Directors of six nonprofits. Brenda is also a Senior Affiliate Instructor for the University of Washington’s Communication Leadership graduate program, and was a 2017 JustLead Washington Leadership Academy Fellow. She enjoys many types of dance, collaborating with a local anti-racist white parents groups, and getting a spare moment to read fiction.

Brianna Jones, Assistant Director of 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.

Laura, Legal Services Coordinator

Laura (she/her) has a background in Humanities and Education. Laura has spent time teaching an age range that spans from young children to adults in a variety of settings and internationally. An avid traveler, Laura has spent time living in Mexico and France, and is trilingual. Laura is passionate about racial justice and upstream, systemic change. She works locally to support anti-oppression efforts. Laura enjoys karaoke and can be found enjoying soup year round.

Lucia Leandro Gimeno, Capacity Building Coach

Lucia Leandro Gimeno is a trans, Afro-Latinx femme who loves to support BIPOC communities. Raised by loud mouth dykes in working class Boston with family & community roots in NYC. Currently the director of Queer & Trans People of Color (QTPOC) Birthwerq Project, an organizing project to increase access to birth education for trans, gender nonconforming and queer people of color. An artist/playwright, altar builder and homegrown chef, they use their gifts to indulge in legacy, memory, family, culture and home.

Mary Meng, Accountant

Mary Meng (she/her) has a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting, and  over 10 years of non-profit accounting experiences. She is passionate about volunteering in local communities, whether that be through local elementary schools or non-profit organizations. When not working, Mary enjoys traveling, hiking, eating, and spending time with families and friends.

Patricia Lopez, Program Planner

Patricia (she/her) is dedicated to developing programs and systems that are accountable, equitable and easy to navigate for both internal and external users. She has extensive experience in program management, strategic planning, grants administration, change management and continuous improvements. Patricia enjoys being creative, innovative and solution-oriented. She highly values her family history as Mexican immigrants as well as her family experience as migrant workers in Eastern Oregon. Her parents instilled the importance of a strong work ethic, commitment to family, and learning to navigate US systems and institutions. She is intentional about passing on her family values, cultural traditions and growth mindset to her two children Dayanara and Malcolm.

Sarah Baker, Program Manager

Sarah Baker (she/her) is a graduate of North Seattle College with a BA in international business, she is considering continuing her education in Seattle with an MPA. A native Seattleite, Sarah has a breadth of experience within the local nonprofit realm. Starting as a young volunteer for organizations like Team Survivor Northwest and Jet City Improv, her passion for social justice and community building have led her to continue pursuing a career in equity and advocacy. Sarah is a firm believer in supporting grassroots organizations, communities of color, and the disenfranchised. Sarah is also on the Board of Directors for the Seattle Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, the United States’ oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization. She enjoys dancing, volunteering, and cats.

Y.M. Chan, Director of Financial Services

Yiu M. Chan (he/him) MBA, CPA, FCCA, is NAC’s Director of Financial Services joined the team in 2005. He has extensive accounting and auditing experience, including more than 20 years of serving nonprofit organizations in the local community. Mr. Chan received his MBA from Seattle University. He is a member of the Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants and a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants of the United Kingdom.