MEET THE TEAM
We are proud of our growing team who are creating a welcoming community for refugee and immigrant women artisans.
Founder & Executive Director
Ming-Ming is the founder and ED of RAI. As an immigrant from Taiwan, Ming-Ming understands the challenges refugees and immigrants face. She wants to connect these women with the skills they have and opportunities to earn income to provide for their families in America. RAI combines Ming-Ming's compassion acquired as a pharmacist and her love for fashion.
Director, Programs & Operations
Naoko comes to RAI after a two-decade career in the specialty retail and tea industry. Naoko was conceived at a US refugee camp by a Vietnamese birth mother. Adopted by Japanese expatriates who gave her the privilege of opportunities, Naoko is passionate about empowering and serving women in marginalized communities. She loves running and cooking/baking on the weekends.
Carmen Brenner is a fundraising professional with over 20 years of experience creating and leading successful fund development strategies to support equity for underserved populations. Carmen is an avid runner and skier and you'll find her running half marathons and hitting the slopes in her free time. She also coaches youth soccer and basketball.
Reena comes to RAI with 20 years of experience in the Finance and Accounting Field. She specializes in non-profit Accounting, with a passion for organizations that are dedicated to advancing equity and opportunity for underrepresented communities.
Associate Director, Communications
Jenny brings professional experience in entrepreneurship, communications, marketing, education and project management. She is an artist & founder of a local brand blending fashion and sustainability. As a former educator, Jenny is passionate about storytelling, meeting people where they are at, and creating inclusive spaces. You'll find her paddle boarding, hiking, and camping with family and friends.
Naomie has been working for almost ten years in executive offices across many sectors. Her pro-bono work to aid marginalized communities inspired her to work full time to benefit underprivileged communities. When she isn't working you can find her at local skateparks, record shops and coffee spots.
Alpaja is an art lover and professional designer with 10+ years of experience in ethical and sustainable fashion design, garment manufacturing and arts and crafts. She is co-founder of (and a creative designer for) Ekadesma, a sustainable, ethical lifestyle brand from Nepal founded in 2011. Alpaja is passionate about sustainable fashion and women's empowerment.
Co Production Manager, Training
Maribeth began sewing in high school, making her prom dresses. She went on to study Fashion Design & Fiber Arts, then began a career in the apparel industry. She has been a Menswear Designer at Tommy Bahama, produced wearable art for Beppa, & worked with Tibetan refugee artisans as a Designer & Production Manager for Fair Trade companies in north India. Now at RAI, she feels that her career has come full circle. She loves working alongside the passionate community of RAI visionaries, artisans, and supporters.
Noi immigrated to the US from Vietnam. One of Noi's friends suggested she should attend a RAI recruiting event at the Children's Home Society of Washington. Shortly after, she became a RAI Artisan and utilizing her sewing skills. Noi also designs beautiful jewelry, a skill she learned from RAI. In 2021, Noi joined the staff as a sewing associate, sharing her talents in a variety of ways. Noi is a wonderful cook and loves to read. She also enjoys sewing and designing clothes for her kids in her free time.
Sewing Associate & Afghan Women Artisan Liaison
Baseerah learned to sew from her mom and brings valuable experience in sewing, embroidery and design. Originally from Afghanistan, Baseerah and her family have lived in Seattle since 2003. She has extensive knowledge in making traditional Afghan clothing and art. Baseerah is founder of Asiya Design Art, featuring her beautiful designs in home goods and specialty items. She loves to cook and shares this passion with the staff in bringing tea, baked goods and more.
Mehnaz learned to sew as a teenager and holds a certificate in sewing from classes she took at a trade school in Pakistan. She brings valuable experience from a similar industry while working for Days For Girls International. Mehnaz loves to spend time with her family and friends and hopes to develop more friendships in the years to come. One of her goals is to start her own business.
MEET THE BOARD