Jane's Fellowship Class 7
Kenneth Coble is a writer and an activist from Tacoma. As an advocate for the inclusion of people of color in publishing, he consults with book publishers and uses social media to promote stories from communities historically underrepresented in American literature. He has more than ten years of experience working as a bookseller, most recently at his local bookstore, King's Books. One of his goals is to apply his passion for storytelling to find new ways to achieve equitable representation of people of color in Pierce County institutions, from our schools to our government agencies.
Sheree Cooks is a Tacoma native, loving partner and mother of three children. Sheree is a huge advocate for family and community engagement as well as racial and social equity and environmental justice. As a family engagement advocate working with Tacoma Public Schools, she has facilitated many sessions on the importance of authentic family engagement and how when done intentionally, these practices lead to improved student and school outcomes. As a longtime resident on the Eastside of Tacoma, she is currently working to educate her neighbors on the overwhelming health disparities within her community and help them to find obtainable solutions to start eliminating these negative statistics. As a Black woman, Sheree understands the value and importance of representation - especially in settings that traditionally have not been welcoming or inclusive to POC. She strives to be a voice for those that are often less heard. She loves the quote, "If there is no place at the table, bring your own chair.” Holding this in mind, Sheree is the first Black Commissioner for the Sustainable Tacoma Commission. In the future, she hopes to further her exploration of civic engagement and community activism.
Grayson is a farmer living in Eatonville. They work at Ingersoll Gender Center in Seattle, where they directly support other trans folks and advocate for changes to employment and housing systems. Grayson is excited to leverage more of the trans community's resiliency through their work and farming. Holding farming as care work, Grayson works to organize young farmers with the Washington Young Farmer's Coalition and to make queer and trans farmers visible in Washington State. Grayson also works with Black and Pink, an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and “free world” allies who support each other through relationship building and collective process, working towards a vision of ending prisons. Grayson sees liberation through relationship building and loves helping others connect through farming.
Wendy immigrated to the United States at the age of seven and Tacoma has been her home ever since. As an undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic Mexican woman, she defies systems and structures that victimize and/or criminalize the undocumented community as she works to honor and validate their experiences. She demonstrates her love and passion for community through service and fearless action. She is committed to unlocking the power of the youth she mentors, because it is their leadership that will create transformative social change.
Sarah is an environmentalist who uses her background in conservation psychology to get results. Her community work during her time as a Jane's Fellow included serving as Co-Vice President of both the Tacoma Council and Fawcett local PTAs, in addition to working with Graduate Tacoma's Parents Advisory Council. Sarah is now working with other members of Class 7 to form a nonprofit called EastsideCAN, which is focused on using racial equity and environmental justice lenses to eliminate the physical and environmental health disparities that are so prevalent in Tacoma. Sarah holds masters' degrees in psychology and environmental studies; her undergraduate work was in social sciences and humanities.
Terrance lives in Midland, unincorporated Pierce County, and is a Habitat homeowner at The Woods at Golden Given. He is currently the President of the community’s homeowner association and recently led efforts which resulted in a ‘walkability’ grant to study improvements in safe routes to school for local children. Terrance is committed to building self-sustaining communities, with an emphasis on youth development and tutoring programs to nurture tomorrow’s community leaders. His desire to serve is highly motivated by his faith, which is grounded in the spirit of truth, love, empathy and understanding.
Felicia Mittan is a Minister living in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood. In addition to working as a preschool teacher, youth/children pastor at Preach the Word Christian church, she also serves her community as an advocate, teacher, and public speaker. Felicia is very passionate about issues concerning youth, homeless, seniors and Asian populations. She tracks their food, housing, and medical needs online and works to find resources in order to make things a little easier for those who are less fortunate.
Nan Nop lives on the East Side of Tacoma and is a long-time community activist. Her work with the community began in 2005 when, as a senior in Lincoln High School, she joined Safe Streets’ Youth Leading Change program. As an adult, she continues to serve in her community as a social worker supporting others who are sick, needy and in search of hope. Nan is active in her church and the local Cambodian-American community. Her mission is to inspire others to live courageous, authentic lives through love and to embrace their journey in life despite whatever trials may come.
Chris Paredes lives in South Tacoma and is active in the Latino community on the city’s south and east sides. He works to connect Latino youth and young adults with professional mentors, career opportunities and entrepreneurship resources. Chris believes that building these professional connections is essential because even with a degree, many young people in the Latino community still face challenges in securing the types of jobs they desire. Besides limiting their quality of life, this inhibits their ability to engage civically and give back. Therefore, Chris also works closely with partners like Latinos Unidos del South Sound (LUSS) to advise the City of Tacoma of the needs of the Latino community.
For the past six years, Florian has been supporting the Latino community as a translator, bridge builder, and advocate for Latino families who are new to the area. Much of her work is conducted through St. Leo Catholic parish in the Hilltop neighborhood where she works closely with the church staff and parishioners to match families in need with local resources. But more than that, Florian builds connections between people who support and inspire each other. She believes that offering hope empowers others, which is the best way to enrich the community.
David has been doing grassroots community work for more than 20 years. He is the founder of the Give Love Away Foundation where he reaches out to the forgotten, underprivileged, and disadvantaged people of his South Side community. David’s work addresses the needs of impoverished inner city neighborhoods through empowerment, education, social justice, advocacy, and love. He envisions a community that is free of drugs, crime, and racism; a safe place where people are willing to reach out to others who are different from themselves; and a place where people can get a fair chance in life.
Andrew lives in Tacoma and is passionate about developing financial awareness and independence among millennials, especially immigrants and people of color. His passion was kick started after enrolling in Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) during the great recession and watching his family and his city suffer through financial hardships. By leveraging his experience in the financial sector, he has created a workshop for local PLU alumni with plans to expand it throughout Pierce County. The program is designed to empower and educate by exploring the “Why?” behind each individual’s financial motivations. In this way, participants can develop a clear understanding of what they want as well as the financial savvy needed to achieve it.
Rachel Wiley, M.Ed. is a teacher, a writer, a reader, and an advocate for teachers and students in Washington State. She is a Washington State Teacher Leader and a member of Teachers United. She promotes the engagement of young people in the literary arts through spoken word events and competitions, youth writing workshops, and field trips. She values being a “real model” over being a “role model.”