Gillia Bakie Large2

Gillia Bakie

Gillia works as WA Charters’ Director of Development. In her role, she directs all fundraising activities at the organization. Before WA Charters, Gillia worked at Washington STEM, where she held increasingly responsible fundraising roles specializing in institutional giving and managed the philanthropic communications for the organization. Before Washington STEM, Gillia taught English in Italy for three years and worked in government aid and finance. Gillia holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Washington and a master’s degree in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma Advance Programs. She serves on the boards of the Puget Sound Grantwriters Association and E3 Washington. Contact Gillia at


Rekha Bhatt

Rekha Bhatt is the Chief Program Officer at WA Charters. Rekha joined WA Charters in 2014 and created the Association’s school services arm. She oversees grant making to schools and supports the School Leadership and Design Fellowship, the Strong Start planning year program, and the True Measure Collaborative, a unique public-private consortium focused on inclusive practices. Rekha has served as a strategic partner and judge for Startup Weekend EDU Seattle. Previously, she was a founding Director of Curriculum and Instruction at an independent charter school in Brooklyn and later served as the school’s founding Director of Operations. Rekha began her career as a Teach For America corps member in West Philadelphia, where she taught high school English. She holds an M.S.Ed  in Urban Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Rekha enjoys bird watching with her husband and chasing her two-year-old daughter around the great playgrounds of Seattle. Contact Rekha at

Haid Bloxham Headshot

Haid Bloxham

Haid serves as Chief Financial Officer at WA Charters. Prior to joining WA Charters in April 2018, Haid was a manager at the public sector consulting firm Third Sector Intelligence (3SI). In her four years at 3SI, Haid worked with clients across the education spectrum – from early learning to post-secondary – to build sustainable solutions to complex problems through mission-driven and data-informed decision-making. Additionally, Haid has worked on K-12 funding issues in Washington state supporting the State Legislature, the City of Seattle, philanthropies, and nonprofits across the Puget Sound region. Prior to moving to Seattle to attend business school at UW in 2011, Haid spent six years instructing for Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and working in the ski industry.

Haid holds an MBA from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington and a BA in History and Religious Studies from Colby College in Maine. Contact Haid at



Patrick D’Amelio

Patrick D’Amelio serves as WA Charters’ Chief Executive Officer. Patrick, who joined WA Charters in May 2017, brings a long track record of increasing high-quality educational opportunities for students in Washington, and comes to WA Charters with more than 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience in education and youth development.

Consistent with WA Charters’ mission – to advocate for and support high-quality charter public schools that meet the needs of historically underserved students – Patrick has dedicated his career to bringing educational opportunities and critical developmental support to children, particularly those with the greatest needs and fewest resources.

Prior to leading WA Charters, Patrick held a highly successful five-year post as CEO at Washington STEM. When he joined Washington STEM in 2012, statewide awareness of STEM education was low, at just 32%. Today, 94% of Washington voters believe that every child in the state should have access to a high-quality STEM education in Washington’s K-12 public schools. Under Patrick’s leadership, Washington STEM  raised and leveraged more than $50 million through connections with private and public donors, the impact of which has been an extraordinary increase in the number of students able to access STEM education, particularly those in low-income communities and from communities of color.

Patrick’s work over the past two decades in the nonprofit space reflects his unwavering commitment to ensuring that every young person has an opportunity to succeed in life. As President and CEO for the Alliance for Education, he executed strategic planning to reframe the mission of helping students in Seattle Public Schools achieve academic success, and he worked with varying interests to support their common vision. During his tenure at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound, Patrick oversaw the pairing of caring adult mentors with young people while growing programs, increasing revenues, and balancing budgets.

In his free time, Patrick, a Seattle native, enjoys travel, outdoor recreation, and spending time with his husband Jeff and their children Etta and Dylan. Contact Patrick at


Marcus Harden

Marcus is the Advocacy and Community Engagement Manager at WA Charters. Marcus is an educator, mentor, and advocate who has served in K-12 education for 18 years. Marcus is a proud product of South Seattle, and has served as a counselor, dean of students, and administrator with Seattle Public Schools. Marcus originally joined WA Charters in 2014 supporting the then-nascent charter sector and co-creating the organization’s Aspiring Leaders program.

Marcus holds a B.A. in Political Science and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington Danforth program. Marcus is deeply versed in Social Emotional Learning, school culture, culturally relevant pedagogy, and assets-based community partnership.

A proud community advocate and former foster parent to six “nephews,” Marcus holds the unofficial title of Mayor of Rainier Valley. In his spare time, Marcus enjoys working out, Miami Dolphins and Heat games, karaoke, game nights, 80’s sitcoms (Golden Girls for the win!), pop culture trivia, and supporting others in experiencing joy. Contract Marcus at

IMG_2418 copy

Natalie Hester

An experienced advocate and leader in the K-12 education space with a background in economic and community development, Natalie has spent more than two decades working to ensure that families in South Seattle and statewide have access to affordable housing, and high-quality education options that they deserve.

Most recently, Natalie served as State Organizing Director for Stand for Children Washington, where she focused on supporting families in their fight for improved college and career readiness standards and for the expansion of counseling and mental health resources in schools. Natalie has personal and professional experience in both district and charter public schools. Since entering the charter school space in 2015 as a founding parent at Summit Sierra High School in Seattle, Natalie has used her voice in a variety of roles – including volunteer, parent leader, charter school co-founder, and charter school board member – to influence legislation, statewide policy, accountability, and leadership practices within the charter space, that improve the experiences and outcomes of students who are furthest from educational justice. Natalie also served on the WA Charters Board of Directors from 2016 – 2019. Natalie is passionate about increasing the number of community-led, anti-racist public schools and ensuring that we have strong policies that are informed by the needs, desires, and voices of parents and families.

Natalie has is the proud parent of two daughters who currently attend college and Seattle Public Schools and is an active member and volunteer in her South Seattle community. Contact Natalie at


Bely Luu

As the Associate Director of School Development, Bely (pronounced “Bailey”) is responsible for helping schools build capacity around fundraising. Prior to joining WA Charters, Bely served as the Associate Director of Events at Virginia Mason Foundation. She also spent nine years at the University of Washington working for the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, the College of Education, and the School of Medicine Center for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, serving in fundraising, events, and student support roles dedicated to advancing opportunities and access for systemically underserved students. Previously, Bely served as Development Officer at the International Examiner, a nonprofit newspaper focused on preserving and amplifying voices of the Asian Pacific American community. Bely holds a B.A. in Social Work from the University of Washington, and enjoys spending time with her family and friends and eating her way around the greater Seattle area. Contact Bely at



Diana Marker

Diana serves as the Director of School Services at WA Charters. Prior to joining WA Charters, Diana was the Assistant Director of the True Measure Collaborative, a special education collaborative, which offers compliance support and training in inclusive practices to member charter schools in Washington State. Diana earned her Master of Education Policy from the University of Washington.  She began her career as a special education teacher and is committed to supporting equitable, high quality education. Contact Diana at


Maggie Meyers

As the Director of Communications, Maggie leads strategic communications and marketing for WA Charters. Maggie’s deep belief that all families should have access to high-quality public schools in their community ignites her passion for increasing awareness about Washington’s high-quality charter public schools. Prior to joining WA Charters in 2014, Maggie served as an account executive for a local, women-owned marketing firm, magazine coordinator for New York Home magazine, and freelance editor and writer for various magazine and children’s books publishers. Maggie earned her B.A. from Bowdoin College and her Master of Education in Language, Literacy, and Culture from the University of Washington. These days, Maggie spends much of her free time exploring Seattle’s playgrounds and reading books on repeat with her toddler son. Contact Maggie at

Sarah Okun Headshot

Sarah Okun

Sarah serves as the Director of the True Measure Collaborative, a program that promotes inclusive practices in charter public schools through training and compliance support. Prior to joining the WA Charters team, Sarah served as the Special Education Director at a charter school in Los Angeles. She began her career in public education in northern Virginia, where she taught K-2 Special Education and earned her M.Ed from George Mason University. Sarah has also worked as an academic coach for college students and a director of afterschool education programs in San Francisco. Sarah enjoys running, hiking, and exploring the Puget Sound region with her husband and three children. Contact Sarah at


A.Pharis WACharters Bio Pic

Amanda Pharis

Amanda manages the True Measure Collaborative (TMC), an inclusive education program housed within WA Charters. In her role, Amanda works collaboratively with TMC partners to support charter public schools in meeting the needs of diverse learners by providing professional development, technical assistance, and inclusive education resources.

Amanda has several prior years’ experience with the WA charter sector in other roles. She brings to our team substantial experience with charter and district schools and special education, as well as proven skills in behavior analysis, coaching, and program management.

Before working with WA Charters and the TMC, Amanda’s career started in California as a Mentor Teacher for San Francisco State University, a Program Director for the Down Syndrome Connection, and an Inclusion Specialist for the Berkeley Unified School District. Amanda’s work continued in Washington as a consultant for school districts across the Greater Seattle area and as a BCBA at an interdisciplinary clinic for families and clients with Autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Amanda is a foster dog parent and enjoys spontaneous weekend trips, hiking with friends, trying out new cuisines, and attending shows by local musicians. Amanda is a strong advocate for equitable treatment of those with disabilities and has a passion applying behavior analytic practices to promote inclusion in all aspects of life. Contact Amanda at



Mitch Price

Mitch serves as Director of Policy and Government Relations, and is a founding team member of WA Charters. Previously, he worked on the successful statewide ballot measure campaign in support of Initiative 1240, which authorized the creation of charter public schools in Washington. Prior to that, Mitch was a researcher at the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education, where his work focused on education law and policy. Mitch has also worked as an attorney, a college admissions and financial aid counselor, and a substitute teacher. Contact Mitch at

John Scott

John Scott

Dr. John Scott serves as Chief Equity Officer at WA Charters. Dr. Scott is a professor, activist, educator, and transformative leader who has been providing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) support to organizations, schools, and leaders for more than 20 years. Previous to joining WA Charters, John served for three years as the Director of DEI for Washington state with Seneca Family of Agencies, where he created an infrastructure and intentional culture for sustained DEI practice across charter, traditional, and independent K-12 learning spaces.

John is a master of creating and facilitating trainings with corporations, non-profit organizations, colleges and educational systems, that address surrounding issues of cultural humility, community leadership development, anti-racism, non-violent communication, and community building processes. In addition to facilitating this dynamic work locally in Washington state, John has also designed and facilitated trainings internationally in South Africa, Egypt, Japan, and Canada.

John worked with Shakti Butler (Jefferson Award recipient) for several years and was the artistic director for two of her nationally acclaimed films that explore issues of internalized and externalized racism, multicultural dialogue, and racial healing in America: “Making Whiteness Visible” and “Cracking the Code”.

John holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Drama Therapy. He also holds a Ph. D. focusing on issues of ecology, environmental racism, water, and indigenous studies. John enjoys long distance swimming and sipping bubble tea with his wife, Kumi. Contact John at


Jeannette Vaugh, DSP Project Director

Jeannette Vaughn

Jeannette serves as the statewide Charter Schools Program (CSP) Grant Project Director and School Implementation Coach for schools in eastern Washington. Prior to joining WA Charters, Jeannette served as Director of Innovative Programs for Spokane Public Schools, where she led the development of charter authorizing and school options for the school district. Previously, Jeannette served as a charter school leader in California and a teacher. Jeannette holds a BA Liberal Studies degree from San Diego State University and a Masters in Educational Technology from National University. Jeannette feels passionately about the need for school choice and is a strong advocate for how charters can provide opportunities for students, families, and communities. Contact Jeannette at


Rodrigo Villavicencio

Rodrigo serves as Finance Manager at WA Charters. Rodrigo comes to WA Charters from his native New York City, with several years of accounting experience in the nonprofit sector. Rodrigo’s most recently post was Assistant Controller for the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ), an organization focused on economic revitalization through job creation, corporate alliances, strategic investments, and small business assistance. Prior to UMEZ, Rodrigo served as Senior Accountant at the Provident Loan Society of New York, and as Finance Associate for Cicatelli Associates Inc., another nonprofit organization focused on providing quality of health care and social services to underserved populations worldwide.

In his free time, Rodrigo’s enjoys creating memories with his wife and young daughter. Contact Rodrigo at