The Crosscut Young Professionals Board will advance the future of quality journalism through community outreach. The board amplifies perspectives and voices underrepresented in traditional media, and engages more young people in nonpartisan dialogue.
Board members serve a two-year term, and work closely with Crosscut to increase readership and impact, while also providing a professional development opportunity. Keep an eye out for the first events from the inaugural board this year.
Vera Hoang grew up serving food and cashiering at her family’s restaurant in Redmond, WA. Though her family is no longer in the restaurant business, she never doubts the power of a good meal in bringing people together. Vera is excited to start as the new philanthropy coordinator aka database and support guru at the Nature Conservancy in Washington. A proud University of Washington graduate, she enjoys wearing many hats and finding her niche at the intersection of people, planet, and place. In her free time, she can be found paddling around Lake Union with the Seattle Outrigger Canoe Club, watching the latest action movies, attending as many talks, trainings, and conferences as possible, and pursuing her next great meal.
Vera believes that young people are able and responsible for making the change we want to see in the world. She is most inspired by the collective impact young people can make to combat today’s greatest challenges such as homelessness, climate change, and race and social equity. Vera is excited to spark the fire of civic engagement and amplify the voices of her peers as co-president of the Crosscut Young Professionals Board.
Alyssa Patrick is a communication and outreach specialist for Washington State University, based in Seattle. Her work specifically focuses on advancing WSU’s research portfolio, and communicating the many ways universities impact regional economies and global well-being. A Yakima-native, Pullman graduate and Seattle resident, Alyssa really loves to nerd-out about the great state of Washington. She always looks forward to drives across the state accompanied by her favorite podcasts. In her free time she enjoys hanging out with her “Little Sister” from Big Brothers, Big Sisters, writing, going on jogs to gas works, re-watching Parks and Rec with her friends, hanging out at the Octopus Bar, and swing dancing.
Crosscut’s very first Community Idea Lab is one of the first events Alyssa ever attended in Seattle, and she fell in love instantly. The idea that a news organization was encouraging such a dialogue on an important city topic was refreshing. Crosscut’s in-depth journalism at a time when the market is so over-saturated with repeated press releases is also vitally important to an informed citizenry – something Alyssa believes in wholeheartedly. Alyssa was excited to become a Civic Ambassador, and as she continued to see new ways that Crosscut impacted the community, and could continue to impact it even greater, she wanted the organizations do more.
A native of the Greater Portland-Vancouver metro area, Tyler Adamson came to Seattle in 2010 to attend the University of Washington and has lived here ever since. After studying Molecular Biology and Anthropology, he worked for several local companies and organizations, from Amazon to PATH. He continues to be an active volunteer at Bailey-Boushay House and with local Urban Indian organizations. You can find him biking around the city, eating at local restaurants, or hiking through any mountain or forest he can spot, or as is the case more often than not, cooking and baking in his kitchen, followed up with being curled up on the couch with a good book. He is excited to work with Crosscut because of its uniqueness in valuing and prioritizing younger generations in its work. And furthermore, providing news that has widening scope and is relevant to local communities.
Dominique Barni is a creative thinker, thoughtful communicator, and natural connector with more than 10 years experience in communications and the nonprofit sector. She is currently a senior communications strategist at Aggregate, a creative strategy group using communications for social change. She previously managed social media for Seattle Children’s (hospital, foundation, and research institute), balancing creative strategy, content creation and compassionate community management. A graduate of the University of Washington (Masters of Communication in Digital Media) and University of San Francisco (Bachelor of Arts in Psychological Services, Certificate in Ethnic Studies), Dominique worked on the program side of nonprofit and public institutions, including University of Washington, Seattle Art Museum, and Girl Scouts, for a number of years before finding her niche in communications. She is passionate about integrated communications approaches, hearing and sharing great stories, making a difference, and exploring the world through food and festivals.
Among Nate Brown’s earliest memories is munching away on a granola bar, feet dangling over the San Diego-sun-scorched, vinyl bench seat of a loaded U-Haul truck heading to a far-off land called Spokane, WA. He spent his school-age years bouncing around small college towns throughout the Northwest. The son of a father who suffers from a case of wanderlust and a mother from a case of pragmatism, he’s spent his adult life trying to reconcile the urge to explore with the urge to lay roots. Last year he moved his own family into a van to drive the Pan-American Highway and returns to Seattle with a renewed appreciation and vision for his community.
Nate is finishing up a master’s program studying community-based conservation where he’s focusing his interests at the nexus of people and the natural world. He uses his small production company to continue this exploration of the people/nature junction through audio stories. He was drawn to the Young Professionals Board because of Crosscut’s mission to create civic engagement among the populace of the Northwest. He sees the board as an opportunity to engage with the public and facilitate conversations around conservation, sustainable growth and other social issues. He firmly believes that empowering communities to address these issues directly is key to a functioning democracy and community health.
Sokha Danh is the Neighborhood Safety Advocate at the Public Defender Association. Sokha oversees local LEAD operations for Seattle-King County. Passionate about working for underserved populations, Danh previously has focused his time on district revitalization and public safety for communities of color in Seattle and unincorporated King County. Sokha served on Mayor’s Edward B. Murray’s Special Task Force on Public Safety & Neighborhood Vitality in the Seattle Chinatown-International District in 2015. He was appointed in 2016 by the Washington State Commission on Pacific American Affairs to serve on Washington State’s Legislative Task Force on the Use of Body Worn Cameras by Law Enforcement.
Sokha was selected in 2015 by the National Coalition for Asian Pacific America Community as a Next Generation Scholar. He completed the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center’s Leadership & Advocacy Training in 2014. From 2010 to 2012, Sokha was the recipient of the United Negro College Fund Special Program’s Institute for International Public Policy Fellowship (IIPP). As an IIPP Fellow, Sokha studied at the University of Maryland’s Graduate School of Public Policy, East China Normal University in Shanghai and Howard University in Washington D.C. He also participated in Harvard Business School’s Summer Venture in Management Program.
Elyse Gordon is a social justice nerd, educator, chef and connector in Seattle. She is completing her dissertation at the University of Washington in the Geography department, studying the relationship between social justice philanthropy, poverty and politics. Elyse is a teaching fellow at the University of Washington, Bothell, where she teaches interdisciplinary courses on mapmaking, the nonprofit sector, and qualitative research methods. In addition to her graduate work, Elyse facilitates critical conversations and dialogues around whiteness, identity, and urban change. And, to engage a totally different part of her brain, Elyse also works as a part-time wedding and event coordinator, and specializes in DIY and queer weddings throughout Washington state!
Elyse has been excited about Crosscut since her good friend, Berit Anderson, served as the managing editor, and turned her on to the thorough and insightful PNW reporting. Originally from New York, and with a solid Midwest stint under her belt, Elyse now calls Seattle home, and appreciates being connected and informed about local issues and events. Elyse is excited to be on CYPB to center issues of equity and racial justice, to bring more queer voices to the Crosscut community, and to expand in-person events for dialogue and creative expression.
Kanani Koster is the co-founder and Educational Director for Cherry Street Films, a film production company that teaches Digital Storytelling to youth throughout the Seattle area. She holds a MAEd in Urban Environmental Education and a Bachelors in Liberal Studies: Human Development from Antioch University. A UW Women’s Leadership fellow, Kanani is dedicated to issues of gender equity, race and social justice, and youth empowerment. In her spare time she enjoys hiking and urban exploration if not working on short documentary films.
Sara Beth Kiesler is a communicator, progressive activist, and digital media strategist who is fully committed to the Crosscut Young Professionals Board goal of making the community better for all of us. The former journalist has spent the last three years as the Research and Digital Media Manager at Fuse Washington. There, she researches and writes the majority of the candidate recommendations in the Progressive Voters Guide and helps manage Fuse’s email and social media advocacy campaigns. Prior to Fuse, Sara worked in communications at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, where she coordinated messaging, press relations, email advocacy and social media on behalf of women’s health in Alaska, Idaho and Washington. She is currently on the Seattle Group Executive Committee at the Sierra Club Cascade Chapter, and volunteers on the CAIR Project abortion fund hotline. Sara holds a B.A. in English Writing from DePauw University. After covering politics at the Daytona Beach News-Journal for four years, Sara moved to Seattle in April of 2009 and spent her first seven months of fun employment hiking around Washington and freelancing for seattlepostglobe.org and seattlepi.com. She lives in Roosevelt with her cats Vegas and Lily, where she makes tasty vegan baked goods and plans travel adventures. Contact Sara on Twitter @sarakseattle.
Colleen McDevitt is a storyteller in her professional life as well as her activism. By day, she works at Western State Hospital, our state’s largest psychiatric hospital, where she is opening new channels of communication for its 2,000 employees as they provide care to some of our most vulnerable neighbors, family members and friends. Before transplanting from Missouri to Washington nearly 6 years ago, Colleen started a youth media nonprofit focused on shattering stigmas about taboo topics. It didn’t take long for her to seek out the vibrant youth media scene in town, and for three years at the YMCA, Colleen helped young people in Seattle utilize technology to share their stories and spark conversation among their peers and with community leaders. Colleen is excited to help cultivate meaningful engagement through Crosscut and create more paths for young people to have a voice within their passions and concerns.
Colleen knows no stranger and is often the No. 1 cheerleader for the endeavors of her friends and neighbors. She is forever curious, and her photojournalism degree continues to be an important tool in her ongoing learning about the lived experience of community members she meets. For a little fun, ask her about “Nacho Business,” or check out her latest beach combing finds on Instagram as a Seattle Aquarium #BeachNaturalist volunteer!
Kjerstin Wood has a passion for telling stories that matter, which led her to get both her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Master of Science in Journalism from Chico State and Northwestern University, respectively. Her student reporting focused on issues such as immigration and education, and she witnessed the devastating effects of inequity on people’s lives. While in Chicago for school, she had the opportunity to work for a unique public high school, helping them amplify social media efforts to raise awareness of the school’s social justice and civic-minded curriculum and clubs. This experience (along with many others) solidified Kjerstin’s belief that encouraging young people to be engage with activism, lead social change efforts and lift up those who need it most is the best way to improve society. She is excited to take part in Crosscut Young Professional’s Board to help amplify community voice so that a wider range of people and perspectives are represented in media and events.
Kjerstin currently works as the Communications Manager for the Community Center for Education Results, which supports the Road Map Project, a community-wide effort aimed at driving dramatic improvement in student achievement from cradle to college and career in South King County and South Seattle. When she’s not working, she’s analyzing her fantasy football team’s chances at the playoffs, watching the Seahawks, visiting the latest art exhibits or attending a concert – having grown up in Seattle, Kjerstin loves to take advantage of all the amazing things the city has to offer!