Our Team

Click here to learn more about why pronouns matter. Many staff members are not pictued as each staff member may choose whether they would like to be pictured here.

Media inquiries please email: anne.martens (at) kcrha (dot) org

General inquiries please email: info (at) kcrha (dot) org

Biographies

We are currently hiring, and additional bios will be added as staff members provide them, if they choose. Learn more about our organization, including our mission, vision, services, funding, and structure here.

Marc Dones (they/them), CEO

Marc Dones, Chief Executive Officer, appointed April 2021. Marc (they/them pronouns) is a social entrepreneur, policy strategist, and social justice activist with over 10 years of experience in equitable systems transformation. Prior to taking on the role of inaugural CEO for the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, Marc was the founder and Executive Director of the National Innovation Service (NIS), a consulting firm that helps governments redesign their approaches to supporting marginalized populations. Marc has also held leadership roles in social impact, policy and program design, and continuous improvement at the Center for Social Innovation (C4 Innovations), and is a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts (SVA). Marc holds a degree from NYU in Psychiatric Anthropology and is an experienced equity trainer. Read Marc’s profile in the Seattle Times.

Helen Howell, Deputy CEO. Helen (she/her) was most recently the City of Seattle’s Interim Director of Human Services, and previously served as a Senior Director at the King County Housing Authority, where she led Policy, Research & Evaluation, Homeless Housing Initiatives, and the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Her experience with human services and the homeless crisis response system was developed when serving as Director of the Pierce County Human Services Department, and as Executive Director of Building Changes, a Seattle-based nonprofit working to reduce youth and family homelessness. She has also held several positions in federal and state government, including with U.S. Senator Patty Murray and Governor Gary Locke. Helen earned her B.A. from Vassar College, a Diploma in Legal Studies (Jurisprudence and Moral & Political Philosophy) from Oxford University, and her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law.

Anne Martens (she/her), Director of Communications & External Affairs

Anne Martens, Director of External Affairs & Communications. Anne (she/her) has worked for many years in advocacy and communications across government, political campaigns and ballot initiatives, non-profits and philanthropy. She was most recently at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on the Washington State team, focusing on the foundation’s local COVID-19 response, educational efforts from pre-K through college, and addressing homelessness among families with children. She previously served as Communications Director for the Washington State Office of Financial Management under Governor Gregoire, and for the Oregon Secretary of State under Bill Bradbury. Born and raised in Seattle, she holds a law degree from Georgetown and a B.A. in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley. She has one lovely daughter and one rather demanding cat. Media inquiries click here; public records requests click here.

Erin Bryant-Thomas, Director of Equity & Justice. Erin (she/her) is a proud wife of 12 years, mother of 3 Brilliant Black Boys, native of San Francisco and a 13-year resident of the Seattle/ King County area. She is an anti-racist community organizer, grounded in the People’s Institute for Survival & Beyond’s principles, and focuses much of her time on addressing racism in systems and institutions as well as the manifestations of internalized racial oppression within herself. She is committed to the liberation of Black people and does that work through Black Star Line, The Village of Hope and Holgate Street Church of Christ where she has served as an Events Coordinator, Program Coordinator and Para Educator as well as many other roles. Erin is committed to building a community where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Her work is informed by 15 years of strategic and relational leadership experience in the community, grassroots, nonprofit and government sectors. She helped to start the very first Black Student Union (BSU) at Auburn High School, and is currently studying Education and Business/Entrepreneurship at Evergreen State College-Tacoma. Her focus is on community healing & building, principled anti-racist organizing, and helping to develop multi-cultural & multi-generational relationships so all communities thrive.

Nigel Herbig, Intergovernmental Affairs Manager. Nigel (he/him) is a firm believer that government exists to improve everyone’s quality of life – he has worked in politics and government for over 15 years because of that belief. He comes to the KCRHA with a deep background in King County and Washington State politics, having worked on local, state, and federal campaigns, and for labor unions and environmental groups. He has also worked for local elected officials, and before coming to the KCRHA he had spent almost nine years working in the State Legislature. He is excited to put this background to work to help end homelessness in King County. Nigel grew up in Seattle, attended Seattle Public Schools, and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Political Science and Comparative Religion. Before working in politics he worked in fundraising and radio broadcasting. He lives in Kenmore with his wife and daughter, and spends his free time reading, playing disc golf, spending time with family and friends, and serving on his local city council.

Heidi Wiersma, Director of Special Projects. Heidi (she/her) believes that local government has the greatest impact on people’s daily lives; and it has much room for improvement, particularly in centering equity and the voices of people most affected. She is energized by building community, operationalizing visions, and design-based innovation with a strong track record for delivering on novel projects that address complex problems. Heidi comes to the RHA from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) where she led agency implementation of a program similar to Health Through Housing across 15 sites. She’s also worked on a Bloomberg Philanthropies funded innovation team, the Peace Corps, and Whatcom County Health Department. Her educational foundation is in community health and public administration. She is thrilled to come back to her PNW roots and lives in Seattle. Heidi looks forward to discovering her favorite cycling routes, hikes, and campgrounds as well as revisiting previous research on the best Seattle cappuccino. 

Katara Jordan, Chief Ombudsperson. Katara (she/her) is a dedicated advocate who has spent the last 11 years leading policy and advocacy efforts focused on people experiencing homelessness. She is passionate about ensuring that the voices of those with lived experience drive solutions towards systemic changes that will drive improvements in homeless prevention and housing interventions. She comes to KCRHA from Building Changes, where she led statewide advocacy to support data-driven and cross-sector approaches to housing issues impacting children, youth, and families. Previously she worked as an attorney at Columbia Legal Services. At CLS, her work focused on removing systemic barriers for children and youth impacted by homelessness, juvenile records, or foster care. She is also one of the architects of the Homeless Student Stability Program, one of the first programs in the nation to provide public funding to support school-housing partnerships that align the education and housing systems towards improving housing and academic outcomes for students experiencing homelessness. Katara holds a B.A. in Women’s Studies from Barnard College, Columbia University in New York City, a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Washington, and a law degree from the University of Washington School of Law.

PROGRAM TEAM

Peter Lynn (he/him), Chief Program Officer

Peter Lynn, Chief Program Officer. Peter (he/him) is a public servant who has worked in low income housing and homelessness for the past 20 years.  Prior to joining the KCRHA, he led the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) for five years of tremendous growth for the nation’s largest Continuum of Care. Peter focused LAHSA on housing outcomes, evidence-based practices, and how structural and institutional racism drives and deepens homelessness. Under his leadership, LA’s homelessness response system housed more than 80,000 people out of homelessness. Prior to LAHSA, he ran the Section 8 voucher programs for the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation.  Peter holds a B.A. from Vassar and an MBA from NYU, has two adult children, and lives in West Seattle.

Nawiishtunmi Nightgun, Deputy Chief Program Officer. Nawiishtunmi (she/her) is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, and a descendant of the Blackfeet and Gros Ventre tribes. She has served the community experiencing homelessness for over 6 years within the youth, single adult, and family homelessness to ensure a human centered approach that focuses on story first.  Nawiishtunmi previously served as Senior Director of Programs for Chief Seattle Club, Director of Housing for Wellspring Family Services, Vice President on the Mockingbird Society’s Board of Directors, Co-Chair of the CEA Public Policy Committee, and Indian Policy Advisory Committee Delegate for Washington State as a tribal leader representing Chief Seattle Club. A vocal advocate for ending homelessness and racial equity, she has presented on decolonizing colonialism, decolonizing data, indigenous history and addressing the needs of the indigenous community during the pandemic in collaboration with the regional public health agency. Nawiishtunmi received her Bachelors of Science in Psychology.

Lisa Gustaveson

Lisa Gustaveson, Senior Advisor. Lisa (she/her) comes to the Authority from the City of Seattle Human Services Department where she served as Strategic Advisor for the Homeless Strategy & Investment Division. She earned a master’s degree in Not-for-Proft Leadership (MNPL) from Seattle University, and has worked as a homeless service provider and in affordable housing development, as an intermediary and private funder, in government, higher education, and as a community volunteer and non-profit board of director. Lisa resides in Seattle with her husband, daughter, two cats and a dog. She loves living in the Pacific Northwest, entertaining and traveling.

Carol Mizoguchi, Grants Manager. Carol (she/her) was previously the Director of Emergency Services for Compass Housing Alliance. She brings 30 years of Human Service experience, she led the Office of Community Services in the City of Alexandria, Virginia. She also has held positions with the United States Department of Health and Human Services in the Office of Family Assistance in Washington D.C., Casey Family Programs, and the City of Seattle. Carol is a certified anti-poverty trainer. Carol approaches her work through a social justice and coalition creating lens. She has four adult children, eight grandchildren and a loving partner.

Nneka Payne Program Specialist

Nneka Payne, Program Specialist. Nneka (she/her) comes to the Authority with a strong background in relationship building, collaborative problem solving, intentional system implementation and social justice. Through her lived experience as a homeless youth, Nneka provides an added level of insight to the work of the Authority. She is passionate about cultivating individual and community relationships and believes in the power of co-creating systems and processes for more equitable and sustainable outcomes and impact! Nneka holds a B.A. in Social Services and a Masters of Education (M.Ed.) in Curriculum and Instruction. In her free time, she loves dance parties and movie nights with her family. 

DATA & IMPACT TEAM

Owen Kajfasz (he/him), Deputy Chief Community Impact Officer

Owen Kajfasz, Deputy Chief Community Impact Officer. Owen (he/him) joins us from King County where he served as the Lead Evaluator on homelessness and housing stability. Previously he was a Senior Data Analyst at the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department, where he lead data, performance measurement, and evaluation efforts across the City’s homelessness investments. Complementing Owen’s expertise in data analytics and evaluation is a background in teaching — from middle to graduate school. Owen earned his B.S. in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Washington, where he later received his M.S. of Information Management. 

Janelle Rothfolk, Data Asset Manager. Janelle (she/her) joins the team from Bitfocus, where she served as the Senior System Administrator for the Seattle/King County Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). Janelle enjoys using technology as a tool to improve service delivery, increase equity, and analyze performance. Before joining Bitfocus, Janelle provided direct service to those experiencing or at risk of homelessness for 15 years at local non-profits, including Catholic Community Services and Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC), as well as serving on various advocacy committees. She has advocated for social change alongside program participants, developed and scaled large rental assistance and service programs, improved system infrastructure and expanded use of technology to provide high quality, efficient services. Janelle believes housing is a basic human right, and homelessness is socially constructed and therefore can be socially solved. Janelle earned her Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Public Policy from Evergreen State University. She lives in Seattle with her family, and enjoys hiking, camping, and being a mom to two busy kids. 

Claire Guilmette, Evaluation and Analytics Coordinator. Claire (she/her) is a data enthusiast, social-justice advocate, and visual artist. Her professional mission is to guide decision-makers in using data strategically and wholeheartedly by centering the voices of those with lived experience. She has several years of experience leading evaluations and conducting analyses for social sector organizations, including King County, Building Changes, the City of Seattle, and others as an independent consultant. Claire earned her M.P.A from the UW Evans School of Policy and Governance, and her B.A. from Wesleyan University. Outside of work, Claire enjoys designing, painting watercolors, and engaging in other creative endeavors.

SUB-REGIONAL PLANNING TEAM

Alexis Mercedes Rinck (she/her), Sub-Regional Planning Manager

Alexis Mercedes Rinck, Sub-Regional Planning Manager. Alexis (she/her) is a coalition-builder and advocate. At the Authority, she leads ongoing and equitable engagement across the region with community members with lived experience of homelessness, jurisdictions, providers, and community-based organizations staffed by and serving Black, Indigenous, and people of color to support the creation of tailored sub-regional plans. Previously, she worked at the Sound Cities Association (SCA) as a policy analyst, supporting over 40 city elected officials on 12 different regional boards and committees primarily focused on human services, affordable housing, public health, and public safety. She also supported the organization’s advancing equity work. Before working at SCA, she was a community organizer who helped organize a 1,000 person march, multiple protests and demonstrations, and various teach-ins. Alexis has bachelor’s degrees in political science and sociology, certificates in Spanish, and Women and Gender Studies, and she earned her Masters of Public Administration in 2019. She believes in the power of authentic partnership and community care; In her free time she organizes around food justice and experiments with vegan recipes. You can catch her on a morning run through Capitol Hill.

Paul Tan, South King Sub-Regional Planning Coordinator. Paul (he/him) is a focused engagement person. For the past 30 years, he has found great value through living, listening, and learning among diverse communities in Seattle, Boston, Chicago, The Philippines, and Romania. Most recently, he served as Director, Watson Manor Programs, at Kent Youth and Family Services. He has experience working on anti-trafficking, refugee resettlement, therapeutic foster care, and diversion for youth and families who are navigating social service systems. He holds a Masters of Divinity with a specialization in Urban Systems, a bachelor’s in Biology, and a certification in Fine Woodworking & Furnituremaking. He and his wife have raised their kids in South Seattle for the past 24 years. They are finding time to e-bike, laugh, and spend moments with family, friends and neighbors wherever they might be encountered.

Sparrow Etter Carlson, Seattle Sub-Regional Planning Coordinaor. Sparrow (she/her) has been spending her days with intention and in relationship with her unhoused neighbors for 19 years. These good teachers have helped her to see and believe that the overall health of every individual is directly correlated with their sense of belonging in society and that the systems, structures and policies as they stand are further isolating and death-dealing. She joins KCHRA because she knows that until there is UpStream change precious people will continue to die unnecessary deaths. Sparrow is the co-founder of Aurora Commons and its Safe, Healthy, Empowered (SHE) Clinic and most recently of Sacred Streets; she is a social artist, a mother, wife, neighbor, an avid reader, walker, runner, lover of the woods, mountains, oceans and rivers and a longtime resident of Greenwood.

Mallory Van Abbema, East King Sub-Regional Planning Coordinator. Mallory (she/her) joined the KCRHA team in January 2022 having spent the last 8 years entrenched in advocacy work around economic justice, affordable housing, and homelessness. Most recently, she worked with the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County focused on building coalitions to advance affordable housing policy priorities in the North & East King County subregions. She is passionate about engaging in systems change work that centers the voices of people with lived expertise. Mallory earned her B.A. in Social Welfare and Masters of Social Work at the University of Washington. In her spare time, Mallory finds joy in being a mother and partner, riding her bike, and aspiring to be a contestant on Jeopardy! 

ADMINISTRATIVE TEAM

Meg Barclay (she/her), Chief Administrative Officer

Meg Barclay, Chief Administrative Officer. Meg (she/her) came to the Authority in Augist 2021, after serving as the Homeless Coordinator for the City of Los Angeles, where she was the primary point of contact responsible for coordinating with City Departments in their work to implement the City’s Comprehensive Homeless Strategy. She also oversaw more than $200 million in State funding for homelessness. Meg worked at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from 2010‐2015, where she oversaw the design and implementation of a nationwide GIS‐based system for City and State grant recipients to meet planning requirements for $4 billion in federal entitlement grant funds. Meg grew up in the Pacific Northwest and when she’s not at work, she dotes over her fluffy cat Seamus and makes pottery.

Tiffany Brooks, Finance Director. Tiffany (she/her) is a dedicated public servant passionate about incorporating an equity and inclusion lens to her work as she serves the community. She is a seasoned financial professional with over 10 years of experience in budgeting and fiscal compliance in local government, and most recently served as the Budget Lead for the City of Seattle’s Homeless Strategy and Investment (HSI) Division. In this role she oversaw $190 million in City funding dedicated to Addressing Homelessness and COVID-19 response. Tiffany has a background in governmental accounting, a B.S. in Business from the University of Phoenix and is currently completing her MBA.  She is a proud mother of three and enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest in her free time. 

Katherine Wells, Senior Administrative Specialist. Katherine (she/her) has over 10 years experience in the administrative field, and worked with the City of Seattle for the past 3 years as an Administrative Specialist III. This work holds a special place for her, as it allows her to live by giving back what she has been given. 11 years in Recovery has given her the opportunity to give back and she truly enjoys sharing her experience with others in the chance that it will give someone hope, by just taking that first step.

Jolynn Price, Accounting Manager. Jolynn (she/her) comes to the RHA from the King County Department of Social and Human Services. Prior to DCHS, Jolynn worked at Bailey-Boushay House, as their Accounting Manager, where she had the opportunity to open an emergency homeless shelter. She is a seasoned accounting professional with over 20 years of experience in both corporate and not-for-profit accounting. Jolynn has a BS in Accounting and an MBA, both from University of Phoenix. In her spare time, Jolynn loves spending time with her husband and 3 cats, reading, traveling and shopping. 

Hawariat Abate, Accounts Payable Specialist. Hawariat (she/her) has over 15 years experience in finance and accounting. Prior to coming to the RHA, she spent four years with Compass Housing Alliance. She loves being considered a dependable person, and has a passion for helping others, working with people through hardships, and making people happy. She is a married mother of three, two boys and one beautiful daughter, and loves spending time with her family.

More Background

Learn more about us, including our mission, vision, services, funding, and structure here.

%d bloggers like this: