Thirteen locals were selected by The Russell Family Foundation to participate in the 15-month Jane’s Fellowship program, which cultivates “grassroots leaders” in Pierce County who have demonstrated leadership skills regardless of their job titles.

The program, which runs through March of 2020, includes skills and personal development training in a cohort setting, touching on topics that will help each participant further their careers.

“Every year, we are inspired by the many applications to Jane’s Fellowship Program, which illustrate the broad reach of grassroots leaders in Pierce County who are committed to their communities,” said Susan Dobkins, The Russell Family Foundation Program Officer. “The diverse range of talent of our latest class of Jane’s Fellows will create unique opportunities for shared learning. Each contribute in their own way to positive changes in our communities and in turn, our society.”

The Russell Family Foundation was founded by George and Jane Russell in 1999 and makes investments in causes including grassroots leadership, environmental sustainability and global peace. Without further ado, we’ll let the foundation introduce the fellows in their own words.

Alison Powell – Powell has worked at The Rescue Mission (TRM) since 2013, where she supports families experiencing homelessness. In partnership with TRM and Recovery Beyond Paradigm, she also is a trainer for a mountain climbing program for people in recovery from addiction. Additionally, Powell serves at her church as a coordinator for the children’s program and helps families in need as a foster parent with her husband.

Dakoda Foxx – Foxx is an advocate, paralegal, writer, and actress who works with the youth, families, and homeless through various community activities, including as a certified youth mental health first aider. Foxx has spoken in front of legislators on several bills and policies as an advocate. She also facilitates sessions to educate youth and adults on their rights as citizens.

Dionne Bonner – Bonner is a visual artist and graphic designer who works for Bates Technical College and owns a small business, Vibrant Creations. Bonner uses art as a catalyst to open dialog and reflection. She has worked with a variety of organizations including museums, art collectives, and nonprofit educational groups and city and state agencies.

Filiva’a “Bojie” Mageo III – Mageo serves as a communications strategist for Metro Parks Tacoma in Youth Services. Prior to his current position, he co-founded a software company. Mageo’s experience as an entrepreneur and educator informs his grassroots work at Metro Parks Tacoma; he designs programming that helps young adults develop professionalism and leadership acumen in order to serve their neighborhoods.

Levon Williams – Williams works for the College Success Foundation as a college advisor for ninth and 10th graders to help students to successfully navigate high school and develop non-cognitive skills. He also serves on the NAACP Education Committee Tacoma chapter to make sure every student achieves excellence regardless of his or her social or economic background. At Foss High School, Williams is an advisor for the Black Student Union, mentoring and advising young men and women of color.

Joseph Denton – Denton is a Navy veteran and University of Washington student with deep emotional ties to his community. He is currently a Navy veteran who is cultivating a statewide mental and emotional health program aimed at training teachers, parents, and youth. He has also developed a program to help veterans experiencing homelessness transition to become fulfilled and productive members of society backed by the National Alliance to End Veteran Suicide, where he serves as a board member.

Kalicia Bean – Bean is a community outreach intern through AmeriCorps for Harvest Pierce County, the urban agriculture wing of the Pierce Conservation District. Bean aspires to help her community work toward a sustainable, just, and healthy food system. She previously interned at the Nisqually Community Farm, volunteered at Mother Earth Farm and has experience making traditional plant medicine.

Melinda Raebyne – Raebyne is a self-taught filmmaker who uses her films to give a voice to those in our society who have become the forgotten ones. She serves on Washington Lawyers for the Arts and Washington Filmworks Leadership Film Council. Raebyne juggles a day job as a freelance wardrobe stylist on photoshoots and film sets while producing and directing her own films.

Micah Tucker – Tucker is an executive intern at the Tacoma Housing Authority and senior at the University of Washington Tacoma. A returning student at age 37, Tucker decided to return to school to fulfill his broader aims of serving his community directly. Tucker currently serves as the Outreach Committee chair for the East Side Neighborhoods Advisory Council of Tacoma and as a member of the Tacoma Dome Link Extension stakeholders board representing East Tacoma.

Rosalinda Castro – Castro is a senior coordinator for Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) at School’s Out Washington, working closely with the Whole Child Partnership Initiative with Tacoma Public Schools. Castro has spent the last five years working in youth development, ensuring that underserved students are provided with quality programming through culturally relevant activities, caring adults and safe spaces.

Sarah Luna – Luna is a program coordinator at the South Sound Military & Communities Partnership (SSMCP) in Lakewood. She created Connect Kits to revolutionize the way military and civilian organizations share resources for increased access and awareness and serves on the Pierce County Veterans Advisory Board. Luna served as an Active Duty and Reserve Television and Radio Broadcaster in the United States Air Force from 2003-2013.

Supreme Xi Amaru El-Bey – El-Bey is the CEO and co-founder of B.R.O.T.H.A.S. (Battling Real Obstacles Together Helping Achieve Success), a local nonprofit organization that works with young men of color to provide life skills training, educational assistance, and character development. He currently works to support the students of TAF@Saghalie as a student support specialist. In his spare time, El-Bey volunteers with various mentoring programs such as Brothas Bout Business (B.R.O.T.H.A.S.) at Roosevelt Elementary, and Pizza Club at iDEA High School.

Wendy Pentoja Castillo – Castillo is an advocate on immigration issues for detainees incarcerated at the Tacoma Detention Center and a community organizer for the nonprofit Northwest Detention Center Resistance serving communities of color. She also volunteers at Catherine’s Place, Carol Milgard Breast Center, community gardens, and the MCI project in Tacoma. Having experienced discrimination since immigrating to the United States, she hopes to fight against racism and discrimination and the societal structures that enable them.

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