“I believe in the deep power of communities to transform our institutions to do right by people.”
As the learning and engagement manager, Brenda supports building relationships with communities across Washington that are impacted by health inequities. She aims to ensure their lived experiences are central to the Foundation’s learning and shape how the Foundation meaningfully supports community-led efforts. Previously, Brenda served as deputy director and policy manager at the Seattle Office for Civil Rights. She feels fortunate to have incredible mentors throughout her life, from her mother who raised four kids on a steady diet of liberation theology, service, and love, to community elders who lead with the value of “nothing for us, without us.”
Brenda earned her BA at Western Washington University and MSc at the London School of Economics. Her greatest learning, however, has and continues to come from being the mother of two little ones.
“I believe we all have something to contribute, and like to inspire that potential in others.”
Dion oversees recruitment and develops organization-wide programs to support employee success and a positive team culture. Dion has spent the last 15 years as a human resources professional, partnering with other leaders to develop and execute successful recruiting strategies and employee engagement programs, as well as to establish new business functions. He has worked with Neighborcare Health, Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, Amazon, Group Health Cooperative, Starbucks Coffee Company, and Alaska Airlines. As a person of color with his own health story, Dion recognizes the impacts of racial injustices, and is eager to be part of an organization looking to make extraordinary changes that improve health equity across the state.
Dion also serves on the clergy at Freedom Church of Seattle, where he’s involved with the Youth Violence Prevention Network, a daily love and peace campaign that engages young people in preventing violence of any form, as well as with the 100 Man Army, which brings together males of all ages for worship and community service. In addition, Dion enjoys spending time with his extended family, exploring new restaurants, and cooking (Food Network is his source of inspiration). He attended Warner Pacific College.
“I’m eager to contribute in whatever way I can to address systemic inequity.”
Novelett is responsible for planning and organizing meetings, convenings, and conferences, and ensuring that all of these events are fully accessible and align with our values of equity, learning, and partnership. Novelett has a deep passion for supporting her colleagues, problem-solving, and seeing projects through to completion. For more than 20 years, she has served as an executive assistant for senior executives and boards of trustees at numerous organizations, including City University, Microsoft Corporation, and Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
Novelett is also active in her community with the Rotary Club, organizing tuition and school supplies for children in the slums of Nairobi and building tiny homes in the Seattle area, as well as with Operation Nightwatch, providing support for people experiencing homelessness. She is a lifelong learner who loves developing new skills. She practices Transcendental Meditation daily, is a certified travel agent, and is studying to become a licensed real estate agent. Novelett earned her BA at City University of New York.
“I’m passionate about rooting solutions in justice and collaboration to address our biggest societal challenges.”
Rosa serves as a program associate, where her primary responsibilities are collaborating with the team to develop and implement plans for engaging communities and creating the Foundation’s long-term strategy for realizing the community’s collective vision. Previously, she worked as a community engagement coordinator at REACH and as a development assistant at Catholic Community Services of Western Washington. Rosa’s experiences as an immigrant and multi-racial woman have developed her empathy for being an outsider and drawn her to social justice work.
Rosa earned an MPA from the Evans School at the University of Washington and a BA in Anthropology from Linfield College. In her free time, Rosa enjoys practicing mediation and connecting with the Buddhist community through classes. She also tries to get outside as much as possible—running, hiking, or playing volleyball (her favorite sport).
“I’m eager to learn about communities across our state and create a more equitable, enriching existence for all.”
Willa is our accounting manager, overseeing the day-to-day financial activities and working with the finance and administration director to design procedures that best serve the needs of staff and community partners. Previously, she worked as an accounting manager for Tides in San Francisco and for Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland. Willa feels a strong sense of purpose to apply her professional skills to improve health equity in her home state of Washington, where she grew up in Alger—a small woodland community south of Bellingham.
Willa earned her BA in accounting from Portland State University, and is a licensed certified public accountant in Oregon and Washington. She serves as board treasurer for Whole Dog Academy, a nonprofit career school in Portland whose mission is to improve canine-human relationships and promote holistic training methodologies. Outside of work, Willa loves crafting, baking, and hiking through the damp, green Pacific Northwest.
“I’m excited to support community-sourced solutions for a more vibrant, equitable Washington.”
EJ is responsible for advancing the Foundation’s public policy agenda to improve health equity in Washington. EJ has spent the past decade as an electoral organizer and strategist, trainer, and seasoned policy analyst with deep roots across the Northwest. He has worked with Progressive Majority to help elect progressive candidates, Win/Win Network to increase people of color’s representation in government decision-making, and Amplify to increase ethnic representation in local governance structures. He’s also worked to build innovative partnerships and address inequities through his roles at the Seattle Public Library and Solid Ground.
EJ currently serves on the boards of the Washington Low-income Housing Action Fund, LATINO-PAC, University of Washington-Bothell School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, and City of Seattle Democracy Voucher Advisory Committee. He has an MA from the University of Washington and a BA from Saint Martin’s University, where he is a distinguished alumnus. Outside of work, EJ loves reading, attending live music shows, and spending time in Central Washington where he grew up.
“I’m passionate about building a more equitable future that enriches people’s lives.”
Kate serves as executive assistant to the CEO and board of directors, providing administrative and project support on a range of initiatives in support of the Foundation’s mission. She is a skilled manager and operational leader, with extensive experience from working at CRISTA, Arctic Storm Management Group, LLC, and Starbucks Coffee Company. Kate’s lived experience growing up in an immigrant family and multi-cultural environment led her to be a strong believer in diversity and inclusion, which she interprets as what makes us unique and the same as human beings.
Kate earned an MS in hospitality industry studies from New York University and a double BA in business administration and Japanese from the University of Washington. In her free time, Kate enjoys reading non-fiction books, watching movies, sipping green tea, and exercising daily. She lives in the Mukilteo neighborhood with her husband, two teenage daughters, and a tween son.
“I’m motivated to shape conditions so a person’s zip code isn’t a determinant of a person’s health.”
Carmen serves as the finance and administration director, and is responsible for overseeing and ensuring the accuracy and integrity of the Foundation’s systems, internal controls, and procedures. Early on in her career, Carmen was inspired by mission-driven organizations working with communities that had been marginalized. She wants to make the Foundation’s grantmaking process streamlined and convenient so organizations can focus on programmatic efforts. Prior to the Foundation, she worked as the director of finance and administration for Thrive Washington and as the controller for Eastside College Preparatory School.
A first-generation college graduate, Carmen earned a BA in business management and economics from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She serves on the board of Southeast Seattle Education Coalition, which seeks to improve education for students furthest from opportunities. In her free time, she enjoys refurbishing old furniture and re-discovering life marvels with her five-year-old son, Mateo.
“I believe the most effective solutions are created by listening, meaningful partnership, and sharing power with communities most impacted.”
Nichole June Maher joined Group Health Foundation as president and CEO in October of 2018 after spending six years as the CEO of Northwest Health Foundation (NWHF). Under her guidance, NWHF became a national forerunner in equity and a champion of supporting communities to improve their own health. Previously, Nichole served for 11 years as executive director of Native American Youth and Family Center, an organization widely recognized as having one of the most effective and innovative wrap-around family service models for Native Americans in the United States. One of Nichole’s most satisfying and impactful accomplishments has been co-founding the Coalition of Communities of Color, a powerful advocacy group in Oregon and regionally.
Nichole has served on a number of governing boards, including Grantmakers in Health, Philanthropy Northwest, National Urban Indian Family Coalition, and Northwest Indian College Foundation. She holds an MPH from the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. She also completed a fellowship at Harvard Medical School and the Robert Wood Johnson Minority Medical Education program at Yale Medical School. Nichole is proud of her Alaskan heritage and her connection to rural communities across Washington and Oregon. She is the mother of three young children.
“I’m most excited about building authentic relationships and ensuring we center community in all aspects of our work.”
As the administrative and operations coordinator, Ann enjoys thinking about and setting up systems and processes to facilitate efficient work flow in the office. Throughout her career, Ann has been compelled to work at organizations that center community, including Global to Local, OneAmerica, Sea Mar Community Health Center, and National Alliance for Mental Illness. She grew up in an immigrant and refugee community in Everett, where she felt a strong sense of how health was shaped by the surrounding community.
Ann earned a BA in public health and English at the University of Washington and an MPH at Portland State University. Most of her time outside of work is centered around food. Whether exploring neighborhood restaurants or sharing home-cooked meals with friends and family, she loves how food brings people together and teaches about cultural history.
“We have a real opportunity to rethink how philanthropy engages with communities to advance equity and justice.”
Cory has been with the Foundation since its inception, serving as the acting president and CEO during the Foundation’s inaugural two years. In that capacity, he led the establishment of the Foundation’s infrastructure and operations, and supported the formation and development of the board. Cory is currently serving as our senior vice president—overseeing operations, finance, human resources, and communications, and providing support and counsel on strategy, organizational development, and governance. Cory is the principal of Turnpoint Consulting, which he founded in 2003 with the goal of helping progressive nonprofit organizations deepen their impact. He has served as an interim executive for nine organizations, provided guidance to more than 100 boards, and guided dozens of organizations through complex organizational transitions.
Cory is also passionate about cultivating and supporting nonprofit leaders. He is the co-creator and lead instructor for the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute at the University of Washington. He has served as board president for Solid Ground, board treasurer for 501 Commons, and board secretary for New Beginnings. Cory earned his MPA from the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Washington.