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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, 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, Attorney

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, 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.

Brianna Jones, 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.

Grey Saquee, Administrative Assistant

Grey Saquee is a graduate of Reed College with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. In 2019, he was named Social Justice Excellence Fellow by Center of Life Beyond Reed. During his fellowship, Grey collaborated with Black entrepreneurs in Portland to create career development opportunities for students of color. Before joining Communities Rise in 2022, Grey was an administrative and event planning powerhouse. His accomplishments include organizing Renn Fayre, a widely attended and anticipated festival in Portland, OR. He strives to embody Black excellence and use his talents to pave a smoother road for Black generations yet to come. He is an adult and middle grade novelist, focusing primarily on fantasy and other speculative genres. 

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.

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 abroad and is trilingual. She is passionate about upstream, systemic change. She works locally to support liberation efforts.

Silver Lee, Learning 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.

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 with EarthShare and United Way of the National Capital Area, helping organizations raise money through workplace giving campaigns. Through this work, he saw the importance of nonprofit support organizations, and he is excited to develop new skills at Communities Rise while supporting them to make the Seattle area nonprofit community stronger. Outside of work you can find him exploring the city, going to a concert, or watching way too much TV.

Zoë Erb, Capacity Building Program Manager

Zoë Erb (she/her) grew up in Seattle, WA, and while she’s lived a few other places, the Emerald City has always called her back. Passionate about alleviating systemic inequities, she has worked in the nonprofit and higher education sectors to connect people to resources and to advance efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Prior to joining Communities Rise, Zoë managed a summer youth employment & mentorship program and contributed to other projects relating to income inequity. In her free time, she can be found hanging out with her dog, eating, and advocating for everyone to take care of themselves.