The Children and Youth Advisory Board (CYAB) is an executive-appointed and council-confirmed board of (up to) 40 individuals who live in King County. Board members come from all walks of like and represent numerous interests, but they share a common goal and that is the welfare and future of children, families, babies, youth and young adults in our region. The role of the CYAB is to serve in an oversight and advisory capacity to the King County Executive, the King County Council, and staff for Best Starts for Kids, the Youth Action Plan, and the Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account. With the exception of seats held exclusively for the City of Seattle, City of Bellevue, and two representatives from Sound Cities Association, CYAB members represent themselves--not the agency they work for or a position they hold within that organization. While members are from all districts, they are asked to consider the needs of all children and families in King County. CYAB members donate countless hours towards this goal and we are grateful for their service.

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Dr. Angela Griffin (Co-Chair)

Dr. Angela Griffin is a visionary and inspirational leader, currently serving as the CEO of a Seattle-based nonprofit childcare organization. She has over 28 years of experience, leading the development and implementation of programs for ages birth through young adulthood in both grassroots and national organizations. Prior to her current role, Dr. Griffin was instrumental in leading another WA based nonprofit in achieving its ambitious goal of increasing the graduation rate for youth experiencing foster care. She is a former member of the Federal Way School Board and currently serves on the State Board of Education. She also volunteers on a variety of boards and coalitions that focus on service to youth and families at the city, county, and state level. Dr. Griffin’s greatest accomplishment is being the proud parent of three thriving adult children and a teenage creative genius, as well as the grandmother of an adorable toddler.


Suzette Espinoza-Cruz

Suzette is a passionate advocate for children and families and has dedicated 20+ years to supporting equitable policy in childcare and early learning at the local, state, and national level with a focus on equity and social justice; early literacy; supporting children’s home culture and language; and ensuring universal access to high quality early learning. She has presented workshops at local, state, and national early learning conferences on topics encompassing inclusion, cultural relevance, and anti-bias in the early learning classroom and has received recognitions and awards for her advocacy work from the City of San Francisco, the City of Seattle, North Seattle College, and Washington State Governor Christine Grégoire.

In her free time Suzette enjoys spending time with her family, singing karaoke, dancing salsa, hiking, sailing, reading books with all the infants and toddlers in her life, and cheering for the Seattle Sounders.


Lidiya Gebre

Lidiya Gebre is a passionate advocate for youth mental health and well-being, as well as youth development, social justice, and humanitarian causes. Her journey began in a small village in southern Ethiopia, where she developed a deep appreciation for community and resilience. Since immigrating to the US in 2011, Lidiya has been driven to make a difference.


Being the eldest of six siblings and the first in her family to graduate college, Lidiya understands the importance of empowerment and education. Currently she is pursuing her master's in Social Work and holding a certificate in International Development and Global Maternal and Child Health from the University of Washington. Lidiya is committed to leveraging her education to create meaningful change.


As the Youth Engagement Coordinator for citiesRISE in Seattle, Lidiya is dedicated to amplifying young people's voices and promoting their innovative ideas. She firmly believes that solutions to the global youth mental health crisis can emerge from the very young people it affects. Through her work, she strives to create inclusive environments where youth can thrive and contribute positively to society.


Kimmy Nguyen

Kimmy Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American born and raised in South King County. She is a first-generation college graduate from the University of Washington where she received her degree in Medical Anthropology and Global Health in 2020. She held previous roles in youth development at nonprofits and currently is a Program Quality Administrative Assistant at School’s Out Washington. In her role, she provides administrative support in professional learning for people and organizations who empower youth through expanded learning. Her education and career goals include pursuing a MSW and continuing work in operations, administration, and grant management at local organizations. Kimmy is passionate about advocating for community resources, especially for immigrant and refugee families. She enjoys learning from diverse perspectives and fostering connections through storytelling.

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Bethany Larsen

Bethany has committed her professional career to supporting young children, their families and the staff that provide high quality early learning services. Bethany has been a resident of King County for over 50 years and received her BA in Education at Washington State University. She served young children and families at Childhaven for almost 30 years of her career in multiple roles. Bethany partnered with Harvard's Center on the Developing Child to offer innovative early childhood interventions to families with young children. She participated in Dr. Bruce Perry’s Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics consults focused on trauma and it’s impact on early brain development. Currently, Bethany is the Early Learning Safety Program Manager at Puget Sound Educational Service District which serves over 5,000 young children enrolled in Head Start and Early Childhood Education Assistance Programs. The health of young children and their families is a direct measure of the health of our communities.

Ethiopia Alemneh

Ethiopia Alemneh serves as ACHD’s Director of Housing and Social Serves and as a Mission coordinator for Medhane-Alem Evangelical Church, she is a community leader and liaison of the King County Ethiopian community. Her nearly twenty-five years of experience as a nonprofit leader makes her an incredible asset to the team, especially as an outreach connector to her community. Ms. Alemneh was served as the Executive Director for Ethiopian Community in Seattle and one of the founders of Ethiopian Village before joining ACHD’s Human & Social Services department. She has also served as a Liaison for the City of Seattle and for King County – connecting these government organizations directly to the voice of the African Diaspora community. Ms. Alemneh describes her life mission as being a leader who can fill in institutional gaps to help the African Diaspora immigrant and refugee community

Jerry Blackburn

Jerry Blackburn works as the Program Director for the Empower Youth Network, a community nonprofit providing prevention-based services. In addition to joining the EYN team, Jerry is an adjunct faculty member in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at Seattle University. Jerry is a graduate of the University of Washington with a Master of Education and has been a certified Substance Use Disorder Professional since 1999.

In his community, Jerry has served as a founding board member for The Garage- The Issaquah Teen Café, a team member for ParentWiser- the PTSA Council Education Committee, a member of the Greater Issaquah Equity & Inclusion Group, as well as serving as a longtime steering committee member for the Counselor Camp- Adolescent/Young Adult Behavioral Health Conference. 

In 2005 he was honored by the Washington State Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse with the Richard Rivera Passionate Youth Professional Award, the Issaquah Schools Foundation presented him with the Golden Apple Award in appreciation for his dedication to the health of young people in 2017, and in 2021 he received the Influence the Choice, Vicki Hoffman Legacy Award for his work as an advocate for preventing substance use and promoting the mental, physical, and social wellness of our youth.

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Ariana Sherlock

Ariana relocated to Newcastle, WA from Portland, OR in 2013 with her husband, Ryan, and children, Adelai and Liam. Now in her third year on the Newcastle City Council, Ariana was elected for a four-year term starting in 2020. She was appointed to the CYAB through the Sound Cities Association in 2021.

Ariana works as a personal chef, and has previously served as the president of both the Hazelwood Elementary School PTSA and the Hazelwood Community Association. She is passionate about community engagement to build a better environment for our children (and adults!) to thrive.

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Jack Edgerton

Jack is proud to be a second-generation Seattleite. His professional background includes working in the technology sector, the arts and services for children and families. For the past three decades he has focused on making a difference in the community by working and volunteering in the nonprofit sector. In additional to serving as the Board Chair for the national Circle of Parents network, he is currently Executive Director at Eastside Baby Corner and loves leading a team dedicated to ensuring all kids have the essentials to thrive.

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Erin "BJ" Lee - on leave

Erin Lee is the Community Engagement Director at Quilted Health, an organization committed to building and championing a model for equitable access to compassionate, evidence-based, whole-person pregnancy care. She’s a public health practitioner committed to eliminating racial disparities and inequities within healthcare and the early learning sector. Erin holds a Master of Public Health with a special focus in Health Services from the University of Washington with research focused on community-based doula support in WA state. Erin’s current work at Quilted Health focuses on engaging local doula and midwifery community-based organizations in their efforts to support laboring individuals across WA state. In previous roles, Erin has supported diverse programming and community partner coordination for non-profits focused on early learning supports specifically for unsheltered children and families, and Native and Indigenous communities in King and Pierce counties.

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Dr. Donald Felder

Dr. Donald Felder is a new member of the King County Children and Youth Advisory Board. For background, teaching, coaching, and leadership is his forte, and he has a deep love for using data to harvest discoveries, unfolding recommendations, and implementing transformational plans. Dr. Felder defends the educational rights of students using the Washington State’s constitution, its legislation, and those policies that activate ample learning opportunities, for all children to become architects of their dreams. Combining the knowledge, he is guiding Districts in the art of reimaging how community partnerships are employed in schools. His leadership, as an educational consultant, fosters synergy for teams to thrive under the umbrella of a common vision. This picture reveals Dr. Felder’s love for serving those establishing social justice structures. From one service partner to another, it is reported that Dr Felder leads from his heart to reach mindfulness actions and outcomes.

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Debbie Peterson

Debbie Peterson (she/her) is an advocate, consultant, and trainer in early learning, youth development, family support and community involvement. Her work focuses on strengthening children, families, caregivers, educators, and their communities through connections to strength-based culturally responsive practices, workforce development activities and collective impact strategies. Debbie serves as a state-lead to the Center for Study of Social Policy’s Strengthening Families, as a state-approved trainer and trainer observer for the WA State Department of Children, Youth and Families and as partner, consultant and trainer with the Washington State Family Child Care Association, Child Care Resources of King/Pierce Counties, and the Federal Way Black Collective. Debbie and her high school sweetheart reside in Federal Way in King County District 7 where they are raising their four daughters and enjoying being grandparents.

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Annu Luthra

Annu Luthra is the Youth Leadership Program Director for the Indian American Community Services (IACS). IACS serves the community through programs/services for all life stages while fostering an environment of inclusion and diversity.

Annu joined the IACS board in 2012 and has served as the Secretary, VP, President, and currently, is the YLP Director. Through outreach and advocacy, she works with her team on identifying youth needs, creating safe/ trusted spaces, providing mentors, and collaborates with partners to bring in training/workshops. The program empowers the youth by having them at the table, providing opportunities to gain leadership/life skills through projects, advocacy, and civic responsibility. Annu works with Mental Health counselors regularly to bring much-needed awareness/tools into youth group sessions, a way to reduce stigma while addressing issues that impact youth. Annu is a participant in Eastside Pathways’ CANs where she is involved in the BOQ project and Equity Pledge Taskforce.

Nicole Herron (Co-Chair)

Nicole is a change agent with over 10 years of nonprofit and board leadership experience. She is passionate about education equity, social justice and environmental sustainability. As a Program Director for Treehouse, she oversees a statewide program for youth experiencing foster care, is dedicated to improving educational outcomes, and community wellbeing. She has experience seeking and distributing grants, managing contracts and building partnerships that expand access to resources and education.

Nicole received her Bachelor’s Degree in Leadership and Sustainable Business from Antioch University and currently serves on the board of the Northwest Fund for the Environment. She lives in Renton and spends her free time with her dog, house plants, and partner. Her vision for King County is that all youth have the resources and opportunities needed to achieve their goals, health, and wellbeing.


Carol Goertzel

I have had transformational opportunities through being able to participate in the Selma March, living in Brazil, organizing against the Vietnam War in Oregon, studying China in graduate school and learning from others, obtaining an M.S. in Nonprofit Management.

As Executive Director of the Lutheran Settlement House Women's Program in Philadelphia, teen girls, literacy, GED and college prep, counseling, job training and childcare across several communities were supported. I directed the Philadelphia Housing Authority Resident Support Department, addressing housing and resident needs. We opened the first Spanish/English Hotline for Battered Women, advocating for state law changes.

On Vashon, in 2016, I joined the Vashon Youth and Family Services board, assuming the role of Executive Director for 2 1/2 years before rejoining the board of directors. It is an honor to join the CYAB!

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Jessica Werner

Jessica Paul Werner has led Youth Development Executives of King County (YDEKC) since its inception in 2011, building the coalition of more than 100 executive leaders of youth serving organizations and establishing YDEKC as a thought leader in the fields of youth development, social emotional learning and collective impact. Jessica has more than two decades of experience in advancing the youth development field, with a focus on creating more equitable environments for our kids, and also for the adults that support them. Before her decade at YDEKC, Jessica supported youth development efforts for nine years at the YMCA of Greater Seattle. Jessica completed her MPA at the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance in 2002 with a focus on non-profit management. Jessica is a proud graduate of Seattle Public Schools, Occidental College, and two years of service as an AmeriCorps*VISTA member in Sitka, Alaska and Portland, Maine. Jessica is a proud member of the Tlingit Tribal Nation, and now lives with her family in Shoreline, Washington.

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Yolanda Trout

Yolanda Trout-Manuel began her first term on the Auburn City Council in January 2014. Currently 2022 represents Auburn on the King County & Sound Cities Association, Domestic Violence Initiative Task Force, (new)King County Best Starts for Kids, SCA Children and Youth Advisory Board, National League of Cities, Vice Chair of Hispanic Legislative Elected Officials (HELO), and NLC- Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO). Also serves on the local Auburn Prevention Coalition for the Auburn School District.

Previously, Yolanda owned and operated a bi-lingual Per-school/childcare for 13 years. Her husband Ronald Manuel and she have four grown children,11 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren. 


Dwane Chappelle

Dr. Dwane Chappelle is Seattle’s first Director of the Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL). Confirmed to this role by City Council in February 2016, Dr. Chappelle oversees the city’s efforts to partner with families and communities to achieve educational equity and build a better future for Seattle students through strategic investments in education. Dr. Chappelle graduated from Grambling State University and earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Gonzaga University. 


Cindy Elizalde

Cindy Elizalde, Executive Vice President

Cindy’s upbringing in the agricultural region of Central Washington shaped her lifelong commitment to justice. She remembers how her parents would place her and her siblings in apple bins while they worked hard in the orchards because affordable child care wasn’t available to many communities.

Her childhood experiences motivated her to become an advocate for children, youth, and families. She went on to become an early learning professional, where she and her colleagues formed a union to address low pay and unjust policies. Cindy was an active member of SEIU 925 before joining as staff in 2009. Since then, she has organized more child care providers, bargained more labor contracts, and trained thousands of union members across the state on how to enforce workplace rights. She also served as the Member Resource Center Director and was elected Secretary-Treasurer, before being elected Executive Vice President.

Cindy has never forgotten her roots – as the proud daughter of hard-working immigrants, a rank-and-file union member, and now single parent to a wonderful 7-year old son, her lived experience drives her to make sure everyone’s voice is heard and respected.

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Jackie Jainga Hylseth

Place holder for bio. Jackie Jainga Hyllseth is the Executive Director of the Associated Recreation Council (ARC). This non-profit works in partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation to provide childcare, healthy recreation programs, and activities to the residents of Seattle. In her previous position with School’s Out Washington (SOWA), she led their statewide quality improvement system for the afterschool and youth development field. She also led the development of the Washington State Core Competencies for Child and Youth Development Professionals and the Washington State Quality Standards for Afterschool & Youth development programs. She has been part of many local, state, and national committees and convenings focused on system building, youth program quality, and racial equity. Jackie holds a BA in Foreign Language and Literature and a Secondary Teaching Certificate. She is Filipina and Tsimshian, Alaskan Native and a traditional Cedar and Ravenstail weaver. She lives in Council District 2.

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Helena Stephens

Helena Stephens is the Equity and Regional Policy Advisor with the City of Bellevue. Prior to her current position, Helena was the Family, Youth and Teen Services manager and have worked with Bellevue for 27 years. Before working with Bellevue, Helena was employed in the King County Court system and community services for 15 years.

A graduate of Seattle University with a degree in Political Science and a certified trainer from the University of Washington, Helena has served on numerous boards and commissions. Her passion is the health and well-being of women, children, and families, and often held leadership positions. Helena believes in the value of public service and considers being a public servant one of the highest callings.

An active member of her church, choir, and community groups, Helena is a resident of southeast Seattle and have lived in the Pacific Northwest for the past 46 years. Helena is married, mother of five and proud grandmother of six.


Rita (rrhee-Tah) Alcantara

I am a daughter of Filipino immigrants, born and raised in MLK County, raising two children in this rapidly changing region. My informal education began in my mother’s in-home daycare, while my formal education was in art and art history with a focus on photography and how it has been a tool of race-, class- and gender-oppression. I have worked predominantly in the social sector for organizations seeking to address inequity in the community I come from – from teaching art or dance to children in communities and schools with limited arts access to overseeing health education programs for youth who have become court-involved to fundraising for a program serving pregnant and parenting people of color. I currently work as the equity and inclusion officer at Kindering. In my personal time, I dream up creative ways to support my community toward resilience and healing through connection to identity and culture.


Meena Natarajan

Meena Natarajan, a wellness educator, has been working with IACS for the last 6 years teaching yoga for a diverse group. She runs programs from chair yoga for seniors, viniyoga for young adults, to Mother and child yoga. Meena has a background in instrumentation engineering but has been working in Yoga and wellness for the past 12 years. She is an IAYT certified Yoga therapist and believes in holistic healing, the mind-body-breath connection, and Ayurveda practices.

She also has a background in social work of over 13 years and worked to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for govt. school students in communities in Hyderabad, India.

Jasmine Lee Fry

Jasmine Lee Fry is an education advocate and the CEO of a digital marketing company. She has been working for more than a decade to improve outcomes for students, particularly in the areas of hi-cap education and racial justice. In her previous career, she worked as a newspaper reporter and editor, covering local government and education in Southern California. Jasmine is a proud parent to two children.

Gracie McDanold

Gracie McDanold is a current student at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington as a Music Education Major. She grew up in the Black Diamond, WA area where she began her work on the King County Youth Bill of Rights Task Force at Enumclaw High School in 2023. Gracie is a strong education advocate, has enjoyed hearing from the youth of King County, and can’t wait to continue these efforts. Gracie’s passion for Community service has opened a lot of doors in her life from serving Thanksgiving Dinners at the Golden Steer (Kent, WA), to volunteering at a local animal sanctuary. Gracie prides herself on her strong work ethic and her love for supporting the life around her. Gracie is so thankful to be able to serve on the board as a young leader and can’t wait to see what the future brings!

Eden Gebre

Eden Gebre is a student at Charles A. Lindbergh High School. She enjoys dedicating her free time towards projects that revolve around social justice, community service, and raising awareness about the needs of communities, especially the youth. Having witnessed first-hand how the voices and needs of young people are often overlooked in certain spaces, Eden is motivated to represent children and youth in places where action is taken. By being part of CYAB, she aims to acquire the necessary skills, experience, and knowledge to initiate change within communities and empower young people to make a difference. 

Yedidia Alebachew

Yedidia (Yuh-did-ee-uh) Alebachew is currently a junior at University Prep and strives to promote social justice through the several leadership positions that he holds in his community. Due to the nature of his responsibilities, he has a strong understanding of the needs and wants of the youth of King County that are often diminished when it comes to bringing change within the community. He strives to amplify the voices of the underrepresented youth and give them a say when in the policy and law-making processes. Although he is new to serving the greater community of King County, he is excited to advocate for youth voices during his time on the CYAB. During his free time, he enjoys playing basketball and spending quality time with family and friends.

Charmaigne Jones

Charmaigne's story is one of resilience and unwavering faith. Despite challenging beginnings in foster care, she became the first in her family to graduate with both undergraduate and master's degrees. This journey instilled in her a deep belief in helping others overcome obstacles, particularly aspiring entrepreneurs.

With over 15 years of experience, Charmaigne is a seasoned expert in guiding businesses through intricate legal and financial complexities. Through her firm, Blue J Consulting, she empowers startups, corporations, and nonprofits to thrive, allowing them to focus on their vision.

Charmaigne's entrepreneurial spirit extends beyond consulting. Inspired by her beloved dog, she founded Bella's Custom Bowls, a premium dog food company. She actively serves her community through the King County Youth Advisory Board, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, and her church Evangel Temple Full Gospel Church.

Lisa Stirgus

Lisa is a dynamic leader with over 20 years in the financial services industry. Recently, she shifted focus to raising funds for Junior Achievement of Washington as their Chief Development Officer. Known for inspiring stakeholders, Lisa champions youth empowerment through building financial literacy, career readiness and entrepreneurship skills. She's relatable and cares deeply about others. With expertise in leadership development and relationship building, she holds a BS in Psychology from Capella University. Notably, at Harborstone Credit Union, she led initiatives integrating JA's financial education curriculum into schools and championed employee volunteerism. Lisa has a strong conviction that understanding how money systems work is a key to creating an equal playing field, regardless of socioeconomic status.

Aaron Johnson

Aaron Johnson...

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