Rekha

Rekha Bhatt
Co-President, Innovative Schools

Rekha joined the WA Charters team in 2014 and created the Association’s school services arm. She oversees start-up and operational granting 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. 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 and earned the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. She holds an M.S.Ed in Urban Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Rekha has been as a mentor and judge for Startup Weekend EDU Seattle and serves on the Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Idea’s board and as an advisory board member for Bellevue College’s Design Thinking program. In her free time, she enjoys bird watching and chasing her daughter around the great playgrounds of Seattle. Contact Rekha at rekha@wacharters.org.

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Haid

Haid Bloxham
Co-President, Finance and Operations

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 haid@wacharters.org.

 

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Barbara

Barbara Gilchrist
Director of Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement

Barbara works to advance equity in our public schools by building relationships with community members and organizations, developing partnerships, and strengthening stakeholder engagement to advance WA Charters legislative priorities. She is passionate about achieving a K-12 system that values the learning styles and needs of all students, supports and uplifts children of the global majority, and exemplifies true representation. Prior to joining WA Charters, Barbara was a Legislative Assistant in the Washington State Legislature where she helped members achieve their policy, communications, and constituent outreach goals.

Barbara earned her B.A. in Global Studies, Psychology, and Political Science from Pacific Lutheran University, and is an M.P.S candidate for Security and Terrorism Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. She has certified training in Basic Mediation, and is currently in her practicum to become a Mediator in Washington State. Barbara also sits on the Board of the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize and the Azia Book Awards, which celebrates and recognizes Children and YA books that depict multicultural and multiracial protagonists and families.

In her free time, Barbara enjoys reading, knitting, and spending time with her family. Contact Barbara at barbara@wacharters.org.

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Natalie

Natalie Hester
Co-President, External Affairs

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 the Washington state organizing director for a national nonprofit education advocacy organization, 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 natalie@wacharters.org.

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Rini

Rini Kamalakkannan
Digital Communications Manager

With a background in architecture and design, Rini is intentional about creatively telling authentic stories in partnership with communities. Rini believes in youth voice, the power of advocacy and innovative solutions. Creating ethical and inclusive content with a social justice lens is at the forefront of her work to shift and disrupt inequitable narratives.

Rini earned her Master of Communication in Communities and Networks from the University of Washington’s Communication Leadership program and envisions designing an anti-racist, community-led future with WA Charters. Previously, Rini served as the first Social and Digital Media Strategist at Washington MESA. She is a high energy lifelong learner and loves exploring the city of Seattle with her husband! Contact Rini at rini@wacharters.org.

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Bely

Bely Luu
Director, Innovative Schools

Bely (pronounced “Bailey”) Luu (she/her) provides community-centered fundraising and board governance supports and services to school leaders and boards. She hosts the Fundraising Learning Series, which provides equity-driven fundraising practices to help schools raise more funds, tell ethical stories, and center student and community voices. She also coordinates diversity, equity, and inclusion supports to member schools to advance educational justice and dismantle oppressive systems.

Bely has over a decade of fundraising, events, and diversity, equity & inclusion experience in higher education, nonprofit organizations, and healthcare philanthropy in the Greater Seattle area. She has managed over 200 events in her career, from fundraising galas to stewardship events to graduations.

Bely holds a B.A. in Social Work from the University of Washington. She is on the board of Chinese Information and Service Center, a nonprofit that supports immigrants and their families by creating opportunities for them to succeed while honoring their heritage. She is also a steering committee member of the Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy Global Giving Collective, helping to redefine and amplify philanthropy for women of color.

In her free time, she enjoys baking with her daughter, supporting Global Majority-owned restaurants, and traveling with her family. Contact Bely at bely@wacharters.org.

 

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Diana

Diana Marker
Vice President, Innovative Schools

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 diana@wacharters.org.

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Maggie

Maggie Meyers
Vice President, Communications

Maggie provides strategic oversight for all communications functions at WA Charters. Maggie’s passion for increasing awareness of and support for Washington’s high-quality charter public schools is fueled by her commitment to educational and racial justice. Prior to joining WA Charters in 2014, Maggie worked for a local, women-owned marketing firm, and as a magazine coordinator, freelance editor, and writer for various magazines and children’s book publishers. Maggie earned her B.A. from Bowdoin College and her Master of Education in Language, Literacy, and Culture from the University of Washington. Maggie lives in Seattle with her husband and two young sons. Contact Maggie at maggie@wacharters.org.

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Darce

Darcelina Soloria
Regional Advocacy and Organizing Manager for Eastern Washington

Darcelina lives in her hometown of Spokane, Washington. Raised by a single parent with an eighth-grade education, Darcelina understood the value of education from a young age. She is the first in her family to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree; she enjoyed her educational experience so much that she pursued a second degree! She holds degrees in Organizational Management and Accounting from Whitworth University. 

Darcelina and her wonderful, supportive husband are founding parents at Spokane International Academy where their two sons attend. In 2015, Darcelina volunteered with Washington State Charter Schools Association to rally parents and community members to advocate for public charter schools; this is where her passion for education advocacy began. She quickly discerned that parents often did not know the power of their own voices – and that she could help them harness their power. 

In 2017, Darcelina began working as an organizer for Stand for Children Washington, an education advocacy non-profit, as their Spokane organizer. During that time, she supported families by developing workshops to help them navigate K-12 and postsecondary education opportunities. In addition, Darcelina helped to implement a parent fellow program and parent advocates to work alongside the Spokane district to support the Racial Equity Resolution by hosting parent listening sessions and developing a racial equity team.  

Darcelina is excited to be using her skills in her current role at WA Charters. In her personal time, she works to keep her boys from fighting too much while playing Minecraft. She is hopeful that once the pandemic settles, she can go back to karaoke and singing at church and local events. Contact Darcelina at darcelina@wacharters.org.

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Kim

Kim Torres
Executive Assistant & Office Manager

Kim Torres brings to the team an extensive education and operations background. Kim has supported education researchers in a University setting, led an Elementary Program at a private Montessori school in Washington, and was the founding Director of Operations at a public charter Montessori school in Arkansas. She is uniquely equipped with skills in organization, operations, and program design, and she brings a strong commitment to equity to her work at WA Charters.

Kim holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Sociology from the University of Arkansas, a Master of Arts in Education from Saint Catherine University, and an American Montessori Society credential in Montessori Elementary Education (ages 6-12) from Westminster College. In her spare time, Kim loves to travel and experience new places by eating her way through them! When Kim isn’t traveling, she likes to take leisurely hikes in the Cascades or relaxing with her fiance. Contact Kim at kim@wacharters.org.

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Jeannette

Jeannette Vaughn
CSP Project Director & School Implementation Coach

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 jeannette@wacharters.org.

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Rodrigo Villavicencio
Director, Finance and Operations

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 rodrigo@wacharters.org.

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JT

JT Williams
Regional Advocacy and Organizing Manager for Western Washington

Jonthomas “JT” Williams works to support high quality, anti-racist educational programs that uplift the voices and stories of families from the Global Majority. He does this through advocacy, collaborating with educators, and working together with families to dismantle oppressive systems and hold those systems accountable. 

JT has worked in K-12 educational system in the Puget Sound region for about 20 years including, charter public, traditional public, and independent schools. He worked for Rainier Scholars for over 7 years, leading admissions efforts and collaborating with K-12 public and independent schools on equitable enrollment and college readiness pipelines for students that are most underrepresented in higher education. 

As the Founding Community and Family Engagement Manager for Ashe Prep charter public school, JT led equitable family-centered engagement, fully enrolled the school, and collaborated with founding families and the community to build a school that was responsive to the needs of Black American families. Most recently, JT worked for the Renton School District as one of only four partnership and engagement managers, leading an anti-racist family and community engagement plan to increase student achievement. 

JT earned his B.A. in Community, Environment, and Planning from the University of Washington and has a master’s degree from the University of Washington in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. He has certified training in Basic Mediation and Family Mediation; he is currently in practicum to become certified as a Washington state family mediator. 

JT is the proud father of one son and volunteers his time to fight for equity and racial justice in his community of South Seattle/Skyway. Contact JT at jonthomas@wacharters.org.

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