who we are

our board of directors

Dr. Thomas Staiger

Board President

Thomas is the Medical Director of the University of Washington Medical Center and a general internist at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He is active in the Society of General Internal Medicine and chairs the society’s Clinical Practice Committee. His academic interests include the evaluation of low back pain, physician-patient communication, and educating physicians regarding leadership and quality improvement. He is married, has three children, and enjoys sailing, skiing, hiking, and music. He currently serves as Audience Engagement Lead.

Matthew Norman

Board Treasurer

Matthew is Vice President and Treasury Relationship Manager with Union Bank Commercial Treasury Services. His group focuses on the cash management needs of middle market and corporate clients based in the Pacific Northwest. Matthew manages a portfolio of deposit and treasury management relationships. Matthew graduated from Chapman University in Orange, California. He earned a B.A. in political science with an emphasis in international relations. He also volunteers regularly with local organizations that support higher education, social justice, and fight youth homelessness.

Chelsea Hicks

Board Secretary

Chelsea is a staff attorney with Northwest Justice Project’s Foreclosure Consequences Advocacy Team. She graduated from Seattle University School of Law in 2008. While pursuing her law degree, Chelsea interned with non-profit organizations serving low-income clients at Seattle Community Law Center and Alaska’s Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Additionally, Chelsea volunteered weekly as a drop-in center volunteer at Lambert House, King County’s GLBTQ teen center. After graduating, Chelsea worked for over three years at Alaska Legal Services Corporation (ALSC), a non-profit legal aid organization, where she represented low-income clients in a variety of areas including home foreclosure defense, public benefits, landlord/tenant, consumer protection, property, and family law. In addition to her work with ALSC, Chelsea worked as a domestic violence advocate at the Alaska Family Services domestic violence shelter in Palmer, Alaska. Chelsea conducted intakes with domestic violence victims, answered crisis calls, and oversaw the daily operations of the shelter.

Maks Dedushko

Born and raised in a fairly small town in Ukraine, just a few hours away from the border with Russia, Maks was able to come to the United States on the exchange student scholarship for a year. He is the first in his family to go to college but trying to get an education in a foreign country without support was a struggle. SEA helped him on his educational journey. Currently, Maks is pursuing a PhD at the University of Washington.

Molly Gordon

Molly is an IT Business Analyst for King Government where she works to build bridges of understanding between IT professionals and public/community health service providers to ensure the delivery of service provision-enhancing technologies.  Previously, Molly held positions in organizational development (strategy & program implementation) and direct social service.  From these experiences, she became drawn to work that genuinely empowers people to remove or outwit barriers and create more real opportunities for themselves and/or their communities to thrive.  Prior to working in local government, Molly served in a range of social service and advocacy roles for children, youth and adults, with developmental disabilities and/or mental health issues.  Her past volunteer experience includes serving as a Court Appointed Special Advocate within King County’s CASA program, working to represent the best interests of allegedly abused and neglected children within the dependency court system.  Molly is a graduate of Whitman College where she earned a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Spanish language and literature.  She enjoys puns, playing soccer, adventuring locally or abroad, and spending quality time with friends and family.

Eliseo (EJ) Juárez

EJ is the Executive Director of Progressive Majority Washington, a statewide organization that recruits, trains, and helps elect progressive candidates to public office. EJ earned his BA in community services from Saint Martin’s University and a master's in Cultural Studies from the University of Washington. He was a UW Civic Engagement Fellow and served a term in AmeriCorps. He also served for five years on the Board of Directors for the Washington Bus Education Fund and serves by appointment of Governor Inslee on the Commission on Hispanic Affairs, where he advises the Governor and the legislature on policy and issues that impact the Latino community.

Maggie Hawthorne Kaye

Maggie has worked in the field of education for over 20 years and currently has an independent educational consulting practice in Seattle. She holds a master's degree in education from Antioch University, as well as a post-graduate certificate in College Counseling from UCLA. Maggie brings her passion and expertise to the community in a variety of ways, but she is especially dedicated to the topic of equality in college access. Besides her new role as board member at SEA, she also volunteers her time for College Access Now and serves as the college consultant at Lambert House, a gathering place and support agency for LGBTQ youth. In her “down time,” Maggie enjoys reading, dreaming up stories, being in nature, circus arts, and blowing bubbles to appease crying children. She also likes glitter.

Adam Larson

Adam Larson is currently an Engineering Manager at New Relic and was previously a Software Developer at Microsoft and Thomson Reuters. He grew up in a nontraditional household that included parental drug abuse, foster homes, and the lack of an established support system. After a series of low academic performances in high school, the path to higher education seemed unnavigable. Luckily, he was able to experience first-hand the benefits of programs like SEA and the utter importance of people that are vested in opening doors for those that don't even know where to look for them.  He has since graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BS in Computer Science with a Dean’s List GPA and is now passionately pursuing opportunities to pay the opportunities he was given forward to the next round of deserving students.

Jillian Kilby

Jillian is the Research and Evaluation Officer for the College Success Foundation and a proponent of equal opportunity in higher education for all – a viewpoint rooted in not only the barriers and obstacles faced by low-income students and students of color but also her own experiences. She has a Master's in Education Policy (MEP) from the University of Washington and serves as co-chair of the MEP Alumni Advisory Board. Additionally, she's a board member for University Beyond Bars. She was previously a Betty Jane Narver Fellow for the Washington State Budget and Policy Center and graduate of Project Lead under the United Way of King County. In her professional career, she has worked as the Legislative Assistant to Rep. Drew Hansen (House Higher Education Chair) and as a Program Coordinator in college access programs.

Dulce Siguenza

Dulce is a former SEA scholarship recipient who currently works as a Grants and Administrative Associate at Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. She graduated from the University of Washington in 2016, where she received a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in diversity. Dulce loves to stay engaged in her community and advocate for human rights. Through her civic engagement, she has had the privilege of being the voice of thousands of undocumented immigrants by publicly sharing her own personal story and motivating others to realize the power of their voice. In 2014, she was personally invited by Governor Jay Inslee to walk and stand by his side during the signing of the Real Hope Act, which allows undocumented students who reside in the state of Washington to have access to state funding. Dulce was a Latino/a Educational Achievement Project (LEAP) Ambassador for five years and worked as a program facilitator for their after school program, the Peer Leaders Program. In her free time, she likes to hang out with her boyfriend, family and friends, work out, practice her make-up skills, experiment with fashion trends, and listen to her favorite music.

Cina Littlebird

Cina (Laguna Pueblo, Santo Domingo Pueblo) was born and raised in Santa Fe, NM. After graduating from Stanford University with a J.D./M.A. Education, she moved to Seattle to join Northwest Justice Project’s Native American Unit as an attorney supporting Native American students and their families across the state. Prior to pursuing her graduate degrees, Cina interned with a New Mexico non-partisan think tank, worked as a youth corps leader with an environmental non-profit, taught English in Thailand, and danced professionally with the all-indigenous contemporary company, Dancing Earth. She is passionate about breaking cycles of inequity through making the invisible visible and still tries to incorporate dance into her professional life whenever possible.

Crystal Florez

Crystal (White Earth Ojibwe/ Chicana) was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. After dropping out of high school to work full-time, she moved to Seattle and has resided there since 2002. Never aspiring to college, Crystal received her GED at North Seattle College and continued to work as the sole-provider of her household. Eventually, her love of arts led her to attending Cornish College of the Arts where she began her undergraduate career in fine arts and visual communications. In due course, she was accepted to the University of Washington where she studied American Indian Studies. She graduated from UW in 2014 and, two years later, graduated from the Master of Public Administration program at the Evergreen State College. Throughout her academic career, she has worked and devoted her time to helping others succeed and building up communities in higher education and K-12. Currently, she serves as the legislative assistant to Senator John McCoy, where she hopes to gain knowledge and build programs that inspire young people to be more involved in government and increase civic engagement.


Anthon Smith

Executive Director

Anthon has been serving the SEA community since 2006 and has been working with low-income communities for nearly 20 years, including seven years internationally. Anthon’s passion is inspired by personal experiences as a queer youth/young adult, of homelessness, and other family experiences stemming from generational poverty and trauma. A first generation college student, Anthon graduated with bachelor's degrees in sociology and philosophy from the University of Malta, and attended Seattle University for graduate studies in non-profit leadership. In addition to working at SEA, Anthon is active in the community as an artist and artist manager.

Jeff Corey

Program Director

Jeff has been working for non-profit organizations in Seattle for over 10 years. Prior to SEA, Jeff worked with the Street Outreach Service’s Syringe Exchange program and the Capitol Hill Homeless Youth Case Management Program. Jeff is a co-founder of the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance (PHRA), which operates the University District Syringe Exchange. He holds a master's in public administration from the University of Washington. In addition to his work, Jeff enjoys soccer, working with PHRA, and spending time with his amazing partner, VeraEve.

Danika Martinez, MSW

Program Director

Danika works with partner sites, such as Career Link, South Seattle College, Highline College and Big Picture High School. Danika received her MSW from the University of Washington in Community-Centered Integrative Practice and takes interest in anti-oppressive practice, dialogic social justice models, youth empowerment and digital storytelling. She has worked with youth and young adults of all ages over the last several years from her work in different Seattle-based organizations. In her spare time, Danika loves spending time with her family in Eastern Washington and hanging out with her dog Maya.

Kim Macias-Shell

Volunteer and Resource Coordinator

Kim supports the work of our Education Advocates by connecting our students to needed community resources so they can concentrate on their studies. She also engages volunteers as tutors and mentors, helping them contribute their talents, passions and creativity to support our students. Kim comes with over 10 years of non-profit experience and feels passionate about creating a safe, culturally responsive, anti-oppressive, empowering and holistic approach in working with youth and young adults. She graduated with an AA from Henry Ford Community College in Michigan and a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Seattle University.  In her free time, Kim enjoys gardening, cooking, organizing, dancing, traveling and hanging out with her family and friends, particularly her amazing son, Ethan, and partner, Drew.

Aisha Kareem

South King County Education Advocate

Aisha is committed to serving young people who grew up in underserved communities like she did. She has over 11 years of experience working with youth from low-income communities. Prior to working with SEA, Aisha worked with Seattle Union Gospel Mission’s (UGM) Women and Children Shelter, World Vision’s Youth Empowerment Project in East Los Angeles, and the Seattle UGM’s Youth Reach Center. Aisha earned an AA in Sociology from Pasadena City College and BA in Liberal Arts/Psychology from William Peace University. She enjoys dancing, eating, playing sports, and spending time her friends.

Angela Pierce

South King County Education Advocate

Angela is the Education Advocate serving in Kent and Auburn. Angela is an alumna of Pacific Lutheran University with a B.A. in social work. She grew up in Tacoma, Washington, as a low-income student herself where she received assistance from various organizations and mentors that helped her not only get into college but be able to afford college. She has been inspired from her own experience to assist other students in gaining access to higher education. Before she was an Education Advocate, Angela was an AmeriCorps tutor at SEA assisting students in preparing for their GED and Compass tests. Aside from SEA, Angela is an active community organizer with the Filipino-American organization Anakbayan Seattle. She enjoys hiking, playing with her puppies, and traveling.

Alysia Sin, M.Ed.

North King County Education Advocate

As a Tacoma native who grew up in a single parent/refugee family, Alysia believes in all students and is passionate about educational equity. She is a first generation college graduate and earned a BA in Sociology from the University of Washington and a Masters in Student Development Administration from Seattle University. Before SEA, she has worked with middle schoolers all the way to college students through college access and academic advising. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering with Southeast Asian Education Coalition, trying out new restaurants, and spending time with her loved ones.

Nicollette Roe

Renton Education Advocate

Nicollette earned her AA from Highline College and transferred to the University of Washington to earn her BA in Social Science. She has a passion for education and helping others achieve their goals. Before becoming an Education Advocate, she worked with early learners and their families all the way to high school students at Highline Public Schools. Nicollette enjoys volunteering with Amnesty International, traveling, and spending time with her daughter Coco and partner, Panago.

Penny Lipsou

North Seattle Education Advocate

Penny has over seven years of experience working with youth and families. A native Seattleite who grew up low-income and with a refugee parent, Penny believes in the transformative power of education. She is a first-generation college student who earned two degrees from the University of Washington, receiving a BS in Psychology with a minor in Comparative History of Ideas, as well as a Masters of Social Work with a focus on Policy and Administration. Penny enjoys going on adventures with her dog, Ava, spending time with her friends, reading and creative writing.

Asmaa Ahmed

East King County Education Advocate

Asmaa is very passionate about helping underserved communities obtain the skills needed in life to succeed. Growing up in a low-income neighborhood, she did not have positive role models that she could relate to. Prior to working for SEA, Asmaa has worked for KYFS at a community center in her old neighborhood as an education navigator and mentor. She is a first generation college student who received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington, double majoring in Social Work and Law & Policy. In her spare time, Asmaa enjoys spending time with her loved ones, reading, watching foreign films, thrifting and playing sports.

Jen Miller

Central Seattle Education Advocate

As a native Tacoman, she has experience working with GED students and developing educational programming and partnerships at the REACH Center. She studied History and Latin American Studies at the University of Puget Sound and is passionate about educational equity. Aside from her work, she enjoys cooking, biking, and spending time with her two nieces.

Isaura Jiménez Guerra

South Seattle Education Advocate

isaura is a first generation college student who grew up in a working-class, mixed status family. Their experiences navigating school pushed them to continue thinking critically about the differences between education and schooling. isaura has spent almost a decade working with young people and their families – working to center the voices and experiences of those most impacted by systematic inequality in order to build collective leadership and power. isaura holds a BA in American Ethnic Studies and Comparative History of Ideas, as well as a Masters in Multicultural Education.

Olivia Herring

South Seattle Education Advocate

Olivia has been working for nonprofit organizations for the past 9 years, and is passionate about working with marginalized and low income communities. Prior to working at SEA Olivia worked at YouthCare providing advocacy services to sexually exploited youth and families, and coordinated the National Safe Place program in King County. She holds a bachelor's degree in communication and human relationships from the University of Montana, and enjoys hiking, writing, and camping.

Katy Childers

Development Director

Katy directs SEA’s fundraising, communications and marketing efforts. With over 10 years of non-profit program and development experience, she has worked with Jubilee Women’s Center, Conservation International, Global Partnerships and the Bainbridge-Ometepe Sister Islands Association. She holds a master's in public administration specializing in non-profit management from the University of Washington. Outside of work, Katy enjoys gardening, circus arts, and running.