Staff

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 mutli-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.

Sharonne Navas
Co-founder and Executive Director

Velma Veloria

The Honorable Velma Veloria, was born in Bani, Pangasinan, Philippines and immigrated to the United States in 1961. She received her BS in Medical Technology from San Francisco State College. She was elected into office and became the first Asian American woman and first Filipina American elected to the Washington State legislature. Representing the 11th District, Veloria served from 1992 until 2004. She organized and led international trade missions and provided contacts for small businesses to the international marketplace.

When 3 Filipina Americans were murdered inside the King County Courthouse, Veloria worked with Emma Catague, Norma Timbang and Dr. Sutapa Basu of the UW Women’s Center to gain passage HB 1175, making the State of Washington the first state in the nation to criminalize human trafficking on a state level. Since the enactment of HB1175, 48 states in the nation have passed similar legislation. Additionally, concerned that Washington State was silent on international trade policies that impacted Washingtonians and the Philippines, she authored legislation that created a Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Trade Policy.

As a former labor organizer, Veloria has a demonstrated track record of successfully lobbying for and educating the broader community on important working family issues. Veloria is passionate about sharing knowledge and working directly with people to empower themselves and has proved to be skilled as a leader in motivating and mentoring a multicultural workforce to realize their potentials.

Velma Veloria
Director of Advocacy and Mobilization

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.

Project Director, Partners in Change Program

Risa Nagel

Risa Nagel is the Development Associate of the Equity in Education Coalition. As a fairly recent pupil of an underfunded public high school and over-resourced private university, Risa has first-hand experience of the gross inequalities eroding our education system.

Risa previously worked as an organizer for a variety of campaigns including increasing accessibility and understanding of Seattle’s new Democracy Voucher program; calling on major food companies to stop overusing medically important antibiotics in their factory farms, and preventing the opening of public lands to uranium mining. Last year Risa started with EEC under the Communications Fellowship, and now will be part of EEC’s development team.

Picture of Human
Development Associate

Reneeka Massey-Jones

Reneeka Massey-Jones is a 2018 graduate from Central Washington University with a bachelor of arts degree in English – Professional and Creative Writing. Since 2013, Reneeka has worked in customer service roles while making her way through college. She got her first experience in state work as a Student Co-op in the Migrant and Bilingual Education office at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction as a senior in high school.

Having gone to many schools and been the only or one of the few black students in her class or school as a whole, Reneeka is eager to play a role in closing the opportunity gap and working to achieve equity in all tiers of education.

For all media inquiries please email me.

Communications and Events Manager

Amy Robertson

Amy Robertson is the Volunteer Data and GIS mapping coordinator for the Digital Equity Program.  She spends her daytimes as a Research Professor in the Physics Department at Seattle Pacific University, working to reconceive physics as a more equitable and just space.  Amy’s orientation toward justice work is deeply shaped by her experiences as a chronically ill person.  She believes that rest and care are a birthright, and she is excited to collaborate with EEC to dismantle systems of oppression that normalize harm and center single ways of being.

In her free time, Amy enjoys connecting with her chosen family, crafting, and going for outdoor walks with her partner.  She is currently trying to convince said partner that they really need a dog.

 Volunteer Data and GIS mapping coordinator

Noahloni Garcia

Noahloni (They/Them/Elle) is an outreach lead hotline coordinator with Wa Listens and the Equity in Education Coalition. Noahloni is currently in their last quarter as a graduate student getting their Masters in Social Work from the University of Washington. Born and raised in Prosser, Washington. Growing up Noahloni worked in the fields with their parents doing seasonal labor and learned first hand the difficulties faced by immigrants and those working these seasonal farm jobs. Being a first-generation child of immigrant parents Noahloni faced many barriers while learning how to navigate the higher education system. Their passion and commitment to social justice and equity led to entering degrees that fulfilled their passion for helping others. Their passion for social justice has brought them to work with communities and individuals of all backgrounds. They have specifically focused their volunteer experience mentoring LGBTQ+ and Latinx youth. Their short-term goal is to be an LGBTQ+ and Latinx therapist working for nonprofit organizations. Down the road, they wish to create a one-stop-shop resource center where clients can get their many needs and wants met in one inclusive location.

WA Listens Program

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 Manager

Nicole Erck

Nicole Erck (she/her) works as an Outreach Coordinator in the WA Listens program at Equity in Education Coalition. She was born in Manila, Philippines, and moved to Kansas, U.S. as a child, where she was later adopted. She grew up in Kansas and California and moved back to Kansas for college. 
Nicole moved to Eastern Washington with her family in 2017. Living in Washington state has always been her dream and raising BIPOC children in Eastern WA gives her firsthand experience and is a huge motivator in working towards an equitable education system that benefits all children in all of Washington. 

WA Listens Program

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.

WA Listens Program