Combining expertise in higher education, college access, student support, community development, curriculum design, academic research and information technology, the Degrees of Change staff team is uniquely positioned to help communities and colleges build partnerships that help students succeed and communities thrive.
Alyson Atwater

Alyson Atwater

Operations and Alumni Manager

Alyson earned a dual degree in Education from Whitworth University. She worked as the Act Six Site Director in Spokane, WA before joining the Degrees of Change team in Tacoma. Alyson started as an Admin and has since transitioned into the role of Operations and Alumni Manager. As an Act Six alum herself, she is eager to engage with the broad alumni network to help build stronger communities.

Kelly Bay-Meyer, Ph.D.

Kelly Bay-Meyer, Ph.D.

Operations Director

Trained as a political scientist focused on education politics and direct democracy in Latin America, Kelly returned home to WA in 2010 to give back to her local community. She taught courses in research methods and social justice at Seattle University before serving as Senior Research and Evaluation Officer at the College Success Foundation. She holds a doctorate in Political Science from Brown University.

Lauren Brown

Executive Assistant

Lauren Brown is the Executive Assistant for Degrees of Change. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Northwest University and was a part of Cadre 6. As a Tacoma native, she is grateful to be able to serve her home community. And as someone who is passionate about encouraging growth and development, she is eager to be a part of the Degrees of Change team.

Francisca Chau, M.Ed.

Francisca Chau, M.Ed.

Program Operations Manager

Francis is an Act Six alum from the third cadre at Gonzaga University, where she completed a dual Bachelors of Arts in Criminal Justice and Sociology. She served as the Act Six Program Supervisor for the Spokane area for three years before transitioning to Degrees of Change as the Program Operations Manager. She holds a Master’s Degree in Higher Education from Central Washington University.

Austin Colburn

Austin Colburn

Tacoma-Seattle Program Assistant

Austin was born and raised here in Tacoma and recently graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a bachelor’s of arts in Sociology and Anthropology and a minor in Education Studies. As a first-generation student himself, Austin is committed to lifting his community’s youth to higher positions of leadership and education. Austin plans on pursuing a Master’s in School Counseling in the near future.

Alvaro Diaz

Yakima Valley Program Intern

Alvaro was born and raised in the Yakima Valley and is a recent graduate from A.C. Davis high school. He first learned about Degrees of Change by going through the phases of the Act Six Scholarship. He was intrigued by our mission, values, and goals. Now, as a first-year college student at Heritage University, he is pursuing a degree in Computer Science where he plans to use his knowledge to empower people who are often overlooked through the development of technology. He hopes to inspire others and empower those who have faced similar challenges as him.

Lindsay Garske

Yakima Valley Program Coordinator

Lindsay grew up in the Snoqualmie Valley and studied at Central Washington University where she received her Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a specialization in Community Health Education. Lindsay developed her passion for helping others reach their full potential during her time at Seattle Counseling Service as a Program Coordinator. She decided to move back to her community to help create positive changes in the Yakima Valley.

Bill Hanawalt

Development Director

Bill leads fund development at Degrees of Change and is passionate about connecting individuals and organizations with meaningful opportunities to give generously. Previously as the initial Executive Director of Peace Community Center, Bill grew the organization into a leader in youth development, culminating in recognition as a White House Champion of Change.

Marianne Hansen

Events Coordinator

Originally from the Midwest, Marianne began working at Whitworth University in 1986. As Director of Admissions, Marianne played an integral part in the Act Six program and cherished the deep connections she made with scholars. She retired from Whitworth in 2017 and quickly realized she missed those important interactions. In her role at Degrees of Change she is excited to support the work of providing college access for all students who desire to further their education.

Tim Herron, Ed.D.

Tim Herron, Ed.D.


As an urban high school math teacher in Tacoma, WA, Tim developed the Act Six initiative in 2002 to help his students succeed in college and return to lead in Tacoma. He now guides Degrees of Change as we work to help communities across the country develop diverse, homegrown community leaders. He holds a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership and Policy from the University of Washington.

Michelle John

Operations Intern

Calling North Bend home, Michelle is currently a Junior at Pacific Lutheran University, studying Social Work and minoring in Sociology and Non-Profit Leadership. At PLU, she has a found a real passion for holistic development and vocation, engaging in inter-group dialogues about identity, critical thinking, and social justice issues. As a first-generation and low-income student influenced greatly by her mentors, she hopes to pursue educational access for all and is excited to be of service at Degrees of Change.

Tommy Kim

Tommy Kim

Information Technology Specialist

Tommy is an Act Six alum from Whitworth University, where he majored in Computer Science and Mathematics. After graduating, he worked in education for three years in Spokane where he provided Computer Science curriculum support and data analysis. Passionate about joining the efforts of serving large communities, he now serves Degrees of Change as the IT Specialist.

Nalani Linder, M.A.

Nalani Linder, M.A.

Ready to Rise National Director

Nalani leads our new project to expand Degrees of Change’s reach to students at 2- and 4-year public universities. Fiercely committed to equity at all levels, Nalani has a background in child welfare system reform, private consulting around public/private collaboration for systems change, and working at the regional level to improve equity for early learning. She holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational & Systems Change Leadership from Antioch University.

Giovanni London

Tacoma-Seattle Program Intern

Giovanni is currently into his second year at the University of Washington Tacoma. Born and raised in Tacoma, Washington and a Mount Tahoma graduate, Giovanni is pursuing a degree in Law & Policy. On campus, he is involved with a few programs; being a senator for ASUWT, a committee member for First Gen Fellows, and a part of DoC’s very own Ready to Rise. He looks forward to getting involved with both his peers and the students in our community.

Annalycia Matthews

Operations Intern

Annalycia is currently a senior at the University of Washington – Tacoma pursuing her bachelor‘s degree in Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies. As an active participant in both her community and school, she’s involved in many organizations throughout Tacoma such as the GTCF’s Youth Philanthropy Board, Tacoma Action Collective, UWT programs such as First Gen Fellows, as well as being a Palmer’s Scholar. Her goal is to provide resources for low-income and first-generation students by pursuing a career in college access.

Alex Martinez

Ready to Rise WWU Campus Coordinator

Alex Martinez was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and raised in Bellingham, Washington. He is the first member of his family to graduate from a university. Alex graduated from Western Washington University in June of 2018 with a B.A in Multidisciplinary Studies and minored in Spanish and journalism. At Western he was part of Blue Group a club that supports undocumented student and worked in the Associated Students of WWU as the AS Personnel Director. He is very passionate about working with and for undocumented students and undocumented community.

Anita Mendoza

Yakima Valley Completion and Career Coordinator

Anita Mendoza was born and raised in Yakima, Washington. She graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development with a certification in Adolescence. Anita has a passion for working with students and helping them reach their fullest potential. As a first generation student herself, she believes it is her responsibility to better serve her community.

Mindy Nash

Finance and Admin Manager

Mindy is a graduate of Seattle Pacific University with a degree in Educational Ministries and a minor in Business Administration. She moved to Tacoma in 1999 and has found a deep love for the city of Tacoma. Mindy is involved locally with Trinity Presbyterian Church and its Outreach Programs in the Hilltop neighborhood.

Crystal Navarro

Ready to Rise WWU Program Assistant

Crystal grew up in Grandview and in 2017 graduated from Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in International Business. As a first generation student from the Yakima Valley, she is excited to share her experiences with the scholars. She is passionate about helping other students succeed and helping them achieve their goals in higher education.

Amber Ortiz-Diaz

Yakima Valley Site Director

Amber is an Act Six alum from the first cadre at Heritage University, where she completed a Bachelors of Science in Bio-medical Sciences. She serves as the Site Director for both Act Six and Ready to Rise. Her passion for serving others and her dedication to her community led to her decision to pursue a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Concordia University.

Lori Parrish, M.A.

Ready to Rise Tacoma Site Director

Lori is a Tacoma native and graduate of Lincoln High School. She brings with her 8 years of experience in non-profit organizational leadership, higher education and social policy. Lori has a passion for connecting people and creating access to resources for student success. Lori is a first generation student, Achievers alumni and loves her city, which makes her uniquely suited for this work.

Gabby Ramos

Yakima Valley Program Assistant

Gabby grew up in the Lower Yakima Valley. She is a recent graduate from Western Washington University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Journalism. After learning about Degrees of Change she was intrigued by our work. Gabby is passionate about making a difference in her community and wanted to be a part of our mission. She applied for our AmeriCorps position in Yakima and is her enjoying her current role as Program Support. Gabby wants to use her passion for writing to help students transition from high school to college.

Kamila Rinderknecht-Mahaffy

Development Intern

Kamila is a rising senior at the University of Puget Sound, pursing a double major in Chinese Language and Culture and Business Administration. After recently returning from a nine month study abroad program traveling and learning around Asia, Kamila is joining the Degrees of Change Central Office team as a Program Intern, where she assists with various projects along with administrative duties.

Tono Sablan

Grants Manager

Tono is an Act Six alum from Pacific Lutheran University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. A native and current resident of Parkland, Tono is proud to call the South Puget Sound area his home. Inspired by his educational journey, he lives out the Act Six mission by serving as Grants Manager at Degrees of Change. Here, he is responsible for all aspects of grant management including research and identification, cultivation, writing, stewardship, and reporting.

June Siaosi

Tacoma Completion and Career Coordinator

June is a Tacoma native and a graduate of Mount Tahoma High School. A recent graduate of Saint Martin’s University, June received her B.A. in Sociology. June has a passion for supporting young Pacific Islanders head into higher education and giving back to her community. She is excited to start her journey at Degrees of Change and support students become their best authentic self.

Magdalena Stickel

Tacoma-Seattle Program Assistant

Magdalena is a recent graduate from Pacific Lutheran University, where she earned her bachelors degree in Economics and Global Studies. While in college, Magdalena served as our Administrative Intern, and now she is back with us as our First Year Program Assistant through AmeriCorps. Magdalena is excited to help provide support to Act Six and Ready to Rise Tacoma-Seattle’s recruitment, selection and training of new program Scholars this year.

Taylor Tibbs

Act Six Tacoma-Seattle Site Director

Taylor is a native of South Seattle and graduate of Seattle University. Because of a passion for higher education and supporting underrepresented students, Taylor served two years of AmeriCorps through the Urban Leaders in Training Program in Tacoma. In addition to directing the Act Six Program, Taylor facilitates training on cultural competency, preparing for the transition from high school to college, and advocated for diversity in education spaces.

Andrew Whitney

Career Programs Tacoma Site Director

Andrew is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University’s School of Business. He joined Russell Investments as an intern and progressed through various roles over his six years with the Firm spending time in Australia, Canada and the UK. Born and raised in Tacoma, Andrew sought an opportunity to satisfy his passion for community and business back at home. He is now the Career Programs Tacoma Site Director for Degrees of Change.

Kanwal Yousuf

Research and Evaluation Associate

Kanwal is first generation and holds a Master of Arts and Sciences in Policy Studies from University of Washington. With knowledge and experience in social issues related to; education, health, and environment, she is dedicated to reducing disparities by providing educational empowerment for first generation students with her role at Degrees of Change. She is entrusted to do this by utilizing data and research to improve DoC programs in efforts to better serve the community.

Jaden Zwick

Act Six Tacoma-Seattle Program Coordinator

Jaden is an Act Six alum from Federal Way with a heart for youth and a passion for leadership development. She graduated with the 6th cadre of Act Six scholars at Gonzaga University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and sociology. She cares deeply about promoting justice and equity in her community and beyond. Jaden is always excited to connect with people and encourage students along their educational journeys.