“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’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 accounting managers for Tides in San Francisco and 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 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 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’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.