12-month program focuses on leadership development and experiential learning
November 8, 2021 (Gig Harbor, Wash.) – The Russell Family Foundation (TRFF) has announced its Class 9 cohort of Jane’s Fellowship Program (JFP), an initiative that supports grassroots and community-centered leaders in Pierce County who are making an impact on diverse issues in their communities. The leadership program runs from October 2021 to September 2022.
Now in its 17th year, JFP continues to recognize individuals who have demonstrated commitment to helping their communities in Pierce County. The class 9 cohort, made up of 13 fellows, will follow a curriculum grounded in values of social and racial equity, and build upon their leadership skills through experiential learning and personal development programming.
Like past years, JFP Class 9 is made up of a diverse mix of individuals focused on a variety of issues and causes from helping young men leave gangs, to ensuring high school students have equity in learning, to inspiring the Latinx community to stay active, and others focused on peace, racial equity, immigration reform, criminal justice, agriculture and the arts.
“We are honored to work with this year’s cohort and continue our commitment to encourage and support the work of grassroots and community-centered leaders in Pierce County,” said Necashaw Montgomery, The Russell Family Foundation’s program manager. “We are inspired by JFP Class 9’s efforts to support their communities, especially during the pandemic, and look forward to the key learnings and insights they will share with one another as we go through the 12-month program.”
The Jane’s Fellowship Program Class 9 includes:
Chelsea McElroy – Chelsea owns and operates Vision Step Team, a Washington state nonprofit that is a social-emotional support for girls in the Pierce County area. She is also a lead activist for her union SEIU925 in the childcare chapter as an early learning professional, serving as an ECEAP teacher, family support, child advocate, special education paraprofessional and home childcare provider for the past 15 years. On November 2, 2021, Chelsea was elected as a Director on the Tacoma Public School Board (position #4) as she ran unopposed.
Daniel Akamine – Daniel works for Trinity Presbyterian Church as the community resource coordinator, facilitating community outreach with Hilltop Heritage and Trinity Bryant Montessori. He has worked at nonprofits providing after-school programs with middle school and elementary students. He is passionate about student success through an ecological lens of engaging families and community partnerships to empower students to become leaders.
Horacio Perez-Morales – Horacio is a lifelong Tacoma resident whose family roots extend to Zacatecas and Veracruz, Mexico. Growing up on the Eastside near Swan Creek, he/they have been called to the natural world, especially the ways they interact with food. Not only as a source of daily nutritional and medical sustenance but as art, as ties to their cultural and indigenous wealth, and as a beautiful means of connecting with people. Currently, Horacio is studying agroecology at Evergreen State College, balancing relationships, and foraging for fungi.
Imari Romeo – Imari is a creative, social justice leader who has worked in education for the past nine years. Currently, she works in a high school, where she provides wrap-around support and resources to ensure equity in learning for all students. Imari is passionate about interrogating and critically analyzing systematic issues that impact our youth from the ground up.
Juan Carlos De Santiago – Juan Carlos is a young leader in the quick service industry making an impact with young adults by training new talents with mindfulness and growth mindsets. Passionate about getting growth opportunities to underrepresented youth, the Jane’s Fellowship Program will be a perfect opportunity to expand and improve on his leadership abilities.
Kim Ellefson – Kim works at Tacoma Rescue Mission as an outreach specialist. In this capacity she assists individuals in goal attainment. Kim is studying criminal justice at University of Washington Tacoma. Kim’s life began to take on a passion when she began volunteering serving meals to the homeless population. Kim is dedicated to systems change.
Kristi Martinez – Kristi is an educator, parent, and citizen of the Sumner-Bonney Lake community. She works as a science teacher in the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District and is the current chair of the Sumner-Bonney Lake Education Association’s Human Rights and Equity Committee. In these varied roles, Kristi is working to empower students, fellow educators, and citizens, both individually and collectively, to dismantle inequities within our schools and communities.
Kristin Pool – Kristin works at St. Joseph Medical Center as a registered nurse, volunteers in her local Eatonville community public schools, serves on the board of the Eatonville Family Agency and has taken an active role in finding and supporting local progressive candidates to fill elected positions. She established a Greenhouse Garden program at Weyerhaeuser Elementary School and created a pumpkin partnership program with Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. Kristin organized a peaceful demonstration for racial equity in Eatonville and has begun to collaborate with Eatonville community members and the Eatonville School District Board encouraging the prioritization of diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the district.
LaKecia Farmer – LaKecia (she/they) is a community organizer and co-owner of Parable, a community space and small business that she owns with her family in East Tacoma. LaKecia graduated with a bachelor’s from Evergreen State College-Tacoma with an emphasis in political economy and is continuing her studies at UW Tacoma in the Masters of Community Planning program. LaKecia does organizing around public policy, political strategy, racial justice, and environmental justice.
Lorraine (Rain) Stone – Lorraine works for The Big Homie Program as the executive director. The program supports and mentors young men ages 12-24 in Pierce County to drop out of gangs. Lorraine also owns a small business in Pierce County, Mr. Texas BBQ.
Thierry Ruboneka – Thierry is the community engagement coordinator for Tacoma Refugee Choir, a peace advocate and entrepreneur. He moved to the United States in 2016 with his family as refugees after spending many years away from their home country, Democratic Republic of Congo, which was torn apart by war. He studied multimedia while a refugee in Uganda and went on to manage one of the most successful digital music startups in Africa. He has over seven years of experience in administration, business development and management and has a passion for music and culture. After arriving in the United States, he has worked with organizations for refugee services and resettlement and worked with Uganda North America Association to bring the first beauty pageant, Miss Uganda North America, to Washington. Thierry is a self-described feminist and is developing as a facilitator of conversations around race and immigrant lived experiences. He speaks five languages fluently and is passionate about promoting African culture and lifestyle.
Toby Joseph Sr. – Toby is of Jicarilla Apache and Tabeguache Ute, Seneca and Lenape decent, born in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Joseph has over 25 years of canoe journey experience, 35 years of working in Coast Salish Tribal communities supporting Indigenous sustainability through storytelling, social-economic development, and spiritual growth through cultural pathways.
Yvette Donde – Yvette is a student of psychology at the University of Washington and founder of Latinx Run, the USA nonprofit that aims to activate the Latinx community with weekly meetings for walking, running, or staying active. Yvette also works and volunteers as a medical and social service interpreter and a radio host at VTRU One American Voice 106.5 KQWZ.
The Jane’s Fellowship Program is named for Jane T. Russell, a community leader and businesswoman from Tacoma and co-founder of The Russell Family Foundation, whose life’s mission was to improve Pierce County by investing in its people. Jane’s Fellowship supports those who demonstrate exceptional creativity, courage and commitment to the diverse needs of Tacoma and Pierce County.
About The Russell Family Foundation
Founded by George and Jane Russell, The Russell Family Foundation (TRFF) provides a way for their extended family to make a quiet, positive impact in the community. TRFF does so by funding local, regional, and global change through community investment in causes including resources for grassroots leaders, environmental sustainability, and global peace. The organization applies their values of integrity, mutual trust, constructive communication, life-long learning, and courage to all their work. With a place-based focus in the Puget Sound region, TRFF places an emphasis on Pierce County, WA. For more information visit www.trff.org