Staff

Co-founder & Executive Director

Sharonne Navas

Sharonne Navas is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Equity in Education Coalition.

The first American-born child of immigrant parents from Guatemala and El Salvador, Sharonne understands, and values, the complexity of being multi-lingual and multi-cultural in America.  A native of New York City, Sharonne moved to the Seattle area in 2009.

Past professions include being a community organizer with Stand for Children, Executive Director of Para Los Niños, Assistant Director of Development for NARAL Pro-Choice America, Deputy Executive Director for Ayuda, Inc., and Development Coordinator for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

In 2010, she was appointed as Commissioner for the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

In 2016, she was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Green River Community College.

Sharonne was an advisory member for the Thrive By Five‘s “Talk, Love, Play” initiative, a cohort member of Thrive by Five’s “Advancing Racial Equity Theory of Change in Early Learning,” a committee member of the WA State Education Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee.  Sharonne is currently a member of the advocacy caucus, community network steering committee, and sponsors group of the Road Map Project of CCER.

She also volunteers for the South King Council on Human Services and was a Board member of the League of Education Voters and is on the Steering Committee of the Southeast Seattle Education Coalition.  Sharonne holds a BA in Psychology and Sociology from St. John’s University.

She spends her off-time exploring the various foods and wines of WA State with her husband Steve and their tweenie dachshunds, Manny, and Porter.

Director of Partners in Change

Sameth Mell

Sameth Mell identifies as a 1.5 generation Khmer American who was born in the Kao I Dang refugee camp in Thailand a few years after the genocide ended in Cambodia. He is currently involved in a few grassroots organizations working towards social and economic justice. Sameth, is the Project Director for Partners in Change, a program of the EEC. Sameth has worked with youth, seniors, housing, and advocacy for policy changes. He enjoys leading team trips to Southeast Asia to bridge the diaspora to the rich cultural heritage of Cambodia.

Martin Martinez-Negrete

Martin Martinez-Negrete is a DACA recipient that has been involved in the fight for justice, dignity, and respect for BIPOC Communities since 2011. Growing up undocumented, in poverty, and living in the shadows gave him the strength to find community and fight back. Most of Martin’s work has been centralized around immigrant rights but has also been involved in economic justice, education equity, and youth development for higher education. He’s had the opportunity to work both at a local and national level and has been involved with organizations like Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan, Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, United We Dream, Equity in Education Coalition, and many others.

Advocacy and Mobilization Manager

Melissa Bowen

Melissa Bowen (she/her) is a policy manager with the Equity in Education Coalition, working to implement EEC’s education policy initiatives, including equitable school finance reform, anti-racist teacher professional development, and ending the school-to-prison pipeline.
Melissa has an undergraduate degree in social psychology with an emphasis on criminal justice reform from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Master’s in sociology from the University of Washington.

She previously worked at the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the UW and, prior to that, as an independent researcher, legal case manager, and private
investigator. Melissa’s work on both education and criminal justice reform is driven by a deep belief in both
anti-racism and the power of education to end cycles of poverty.

In her free time, Melissa enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest with her partner and two
daughters.

Policy and Research Manager
Early Learning Policy Associate

Andrea Carrillo

Andrea (Dre) Carrillo is the Early Learning Policy & Coalition Manager.

She is the daughter of immigrants and understands the many barriers in place to obtain the “American Dream”. She was born and raised in Moses Lake, WA. She obtained an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education in 2023. She started her journey in early learning after witnessing firsthand how language access causes barriers for many parents. Being a parent herself, she knows how important Early Childhood Development is for families and more so for those whose dominant language isn’t English.  Her personal lived experiences in public education with immigrant parents and grandparents has made this an easy path to choose.

Andrea previously worked in family social services for a little over ten years servicing clients in her county and trying to aid in ending generational poverty. In that time she heard many stories of issues arising within the education system and parents not knowing who to speak to about their concerns. She hopes to bridge that gap for many families in Washington state.

She is involved with the Early Learning Advisory Council, Early Learning Action Alliance, North Central Early Learning Coalition, and Washington Communities for Children. Currently, she volunteers with the Kiwanis Club of Moses Lake and Comunidades Sin Fronteras Washington.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her extended family and taking trips with her daughter.

Jocelyn Granados Mejia

Jocelyn Granados Mejia (she/Ella) was born in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo, Mexico, and migrated to the United States at the age of six. She currently resides in a very small town named Vista Hermosa on the outskirts of Walla Walla. 

She has first-hand experienced the many injustices that occur when navigating spaces not built for low-income, undocumented and BIPOC folks. Thus, she found not only an interest but a necessity to advocate for immigrant rights. With this passion for advocacy and the empowerment of her intersectionality of identities, she wants to ensure everyone is treated with dignity and has equitable access to all opportunities. 

 She recently graduated with three degrees in Pre-Law Political Science, Psychology, and Spanish from Washington State University and was named one of the top Ten Seniors in her Class of 2022. This award was given due to her efforts to bridge the gap between underrepresented communities and higher education and creating programming to ensure students stay and graduate from their institutions. 

In her leisure time, she enjoys reading, crafting, eating anything with 3+ spices (and spice), and spending time with her family. 

Policy and Research Associate
Projects
ConnectWa Coalition Project Manager

Jennifer Youngblood

Jennifer Youngblood (she/her/hers) is the Projects Manager of Equity in Education Coalition.  She is part Tlingit and grew up in Ketchikan, Alaska, a small island in Southeast Alaska.  

Jennifer has spent 20+ years working in the nonprofit sector, most of it managing programs.  She has an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Oregon and a graduate degree in Leadership and Organizational Development from Saybrook University.

Jennifer believes in the power of the community and has been a part of several community-based organizations either as a volunteer or an employee.  In her free time, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her son, reading, and collecting plants.