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MEET THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

We are proud of our growing team who are creating a welcoming community for refugee and immigrant women artisans.

Yumiko Damashek
Board Chair, Executive Committee Chair, Compensation Committee Chair, Finance Committee, Governance committee (Board Member since 2020);  Former Vice-President of Cabot Microelectronics

Yumiko came to the US from Japan as a graduate student and eventually settled in CA. After a fair share of struggles as a new immigrant in a new country, she landed a position in the semiconductor industry and successfully climbed up the corporate ladder all the way to executive leadership, breaking glass ceilings along the way. She is a purpose-driven leader with her passion in racial, gender and social justice, and has led women’s career development, leadership development and DEI and ESG sustainability programs in a variety of settings. She understands the difficulties refugees and immigrants face, particularly women, and is grateful for the opportunity to help transform their lives through the work she gets to do at RAI. 

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Heather Bridges
 Vice Chair, Board Treasurer, Governance Committee Chair,  Finance Committee Chair, Executive Committee, Compensation Committee (Board Member since 2022); Managing Director, Unify Consulting

Heather is Managing Director at Unify Consulting and is a veteran leader in the management consulting industry, bringing over 30 years of experience helping for-profit and non-profit organizations establish more effective operations, systems, and teams. She brings her extensive Finance experience to her role as Board Treasurer. Heather's journey is deeply rooted in her personal experience. As a former foster child, she understands the importance of community support and it is this understanding that fuels her commitment to the women that RAI serves. Their strength, resilience, and hopeful spirit embody the very best of humanity and inspire us all.

Brittany Mehl
Board Secretary, Executive Committee, Compensation Committee (Board Member since 2019);  Business Development Director, Mentor Creative Group
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Brittany Mehl works for Mentor Creative Group, a digital creative agency in Seattle that designs, builds, brands, and markets products. She is passionate about RAI’s innovative model to transform the lives of refugee and immigrant women. She is looking forward to helping share the impact stories of the organization along with developing community partnerships.

Hayden Bixby 
Board Development Chair (Board Member since 2019);  Program Director, Cura Orphanage


Hayden Bixby currently serves as the International Program Director for Cura Orphanage (Kenya), a non-profit she has led on a volunteer basis since 2006. Professionally, she is in the property management business, having left her tenured Edmonds College faculty position of 24 years in 2021. She has both corporate and non-profit Board experience, and is thrilled to be contributing to the work of RAI as it serves women who come as refugees to their new homes in the US. As a resident of Lake City, she also appreciates RAI as a vibrant, hopeful and entrepreneurial neighbor committed to social justice.

Elta Ratliff

Development Committee Chair (Board Member since 2022)

Elta is the daughter of immigrants who were fortunate to make it to United States after escaping civil war, and she is grateful for the opportunity to support RAI’s artisans. Elta is fascinated by the creativity of RAI’s team, and she is excited that such meaningful work repurposes textiles that would otherwise go to waste. In addition to running her property management company, Elta has also devoted her time to volunteer leadership for a variety of environmental and educational institutions. Earlier in her career, Elta worked as supply chain consultant and as a process engineer, and she holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from MIT. 

Leang Chung

Finance Committee, Development Committee (Board Member since 2022);  Founder and CEO of Pelora Stack


Leang is a Career ‘First’ Coach and Founder of Pelora Stack. She helps mid-career professionals as they navigate their experience as a first-time founder, career changer, people manager, or solopreneur. Leang is an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council and serves on the advisory board for the Human Resources Essentials Program at the University of Washington. Her connection to RAI’s mission stems from her personal experience immigrating to the U.S. from Cambodia as a refugee and watching her mom, grandmother, and aunts earn a living using their sewing skills when she was a child. Leang is a first-generation college graduate. She holds a M.A. degree in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University and a B.S. degree in Marketing from Johnson & Wales University.

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Cleo Escarez

Governance Committee (Board Member since 2023); Founder/CEO at Redyoos

Cleo Escarez is a results-oriented retail executive with over 15 years of experience leading and growing successful retail businesses. Throughout her career, she has consistently delivered impressive results by developing and executing innovative retail strategies, fostering a customer-centric culture, and leveraging data-driven insights to optimize operations. She is a champion of sustainability and a recognized expert in integrating circular economy principles into retail operations. A passionate advocate for women, refugees, and immigrants. Cleo leverages her expertise in business to create impactful programs that empower marginalized communities.

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Maju Qureshi

Governance Committee (Board Member since 2023); Economic Stability Director, Multi-Service Center (MSC)


Maju has 10 years of experience in the non-profit social services field. She works intentionally with staff, funders and stakeholders to support community members who need assistance in south King County. Maju is an Advisory Board member on the South King Housing and Homelessness Partners group and a board member on the Refugee Artisan Initiative. She also serves as a committee member for the Black Homeownership Legacy Fund and is a Fellow of the New Sector Alliance's Leadership Longevity program. 

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Shannon Walker

Governance Committee (Board Member since 2023); Civil Rights Attorney, Law Offices of Shannon Walker


Shannon is an attorney with nearly 30 years of experience in non-profit civil and human rights advocacy. She has worked with immigrant, refugee and indigenous communities in Washington, Alaska, and California to ensure their safe and prosperous futures including through litigation and legislative policy development. She lives in Seattle and is excited to be working with RAI because it is a local organization investing in refugee entrepreneurs from the local community in a way that supports their long-term independence and holistic transition to living in the United States.

KEY ADVISORS & CONTRIBUTORS

Donna Verretto, Non-Profit Advisor - President of DV Consulting for independent nonprofit consulting. Donna has had over 20 years experience in running non-profit organizations.

Camille Steen, Operations Advisor - Camille Steen has worked in the apparel industry in a variety of roles. She is an Adjunct Professor at Seattle Pacific University. Currently, she is the Product Engineer Lead at ExOfficio LLC, and is co-author of the popular Fairchild textbook “Technical Sourcebook for Designers.”

Steve Hill, Board Development Advisor - Steve is an effective business and community leader with extensive human resources and organizational effectiveness experience in both the private and public sectors. A non-profit guru, Steve dedicates his time to coaching RAI on how to effectively lead and grow as a company.

Ron Chew, Non-Profit Advisor - Journalist, Author and community organizer. Ron was Executive Director of the International Community Health Services, a journalist at the International Examiner, and Director of the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle's International District. He has extensive experience in oral history and community-based arts organizations, founding Chew Communications in 2008.