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

Alumni and Events 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 Alumni and Events 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.

DJ Crisotomo, M.P.A.

Ready to Rise National Director

DJ Crisostomo is the Ready to Rise National Director where he supports college persistence, success, and leadership efforts for Degrees of Change. DJ earned his BA from Pacific Lutheran University and his MPA from The Evergreen State College. His professional and civic experience has centered on supporting scholars and their families make informed decisions about their futures. As a proud Chamorro and first-generation graduate, DJ carries with him the legacy of his family and ancestors.

Marquise Dixon

Act Six National Director

Passionate about college access and success, Marquise serves as the Act Six National Director where he provides the primary leadership for the Act Six national network, ensuring that it holds true to its original mission and maintains its exceptional outcomes. Marquise brings a unique skill set to the position, pulling from his experience of college admissions and student life, and serving as the initial Act Six site director for the Minneapolis-St. Paul program, he looks forward to guiding the program’s expansion.

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.

Tim Herron, Ed.D.

Tim Herron, Ed.D.

Chief Executive Officer

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.

Gerdon Jones

Ready to Rise Tacoma Site Director

Gerdon is the Ready to Rise Tacoma Site Director. Born in Tacoma, Gerdon is dedicated to serving Tacoma by being a positive role model and encouraging others to make an impact in the lives of others. Gerdon is a believer in the development of youth and has a passion for seeing people use education as a powerful tool. Gerdon earned his Bachelor of Arts from Seattle Pacific University and his Master of Arts from Seattle University.

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.

Tacoma Completes Director

Nalani leads the Tacoma Completes effort to improve outcomes and eliminate equity gaps in college completion for Tacoma graduates. 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.

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.

Lynnie McIlvan

Operations Intern

Lynnie earned her Associates Degree from the Clark College and currently attends the University of Puget Sound as a Classics (and Ancient Mediterranean Studies) major. As a first-generation student, she is passionate about a variety of things including accessible education, effective communication, minority advocacy, and international perspectives. Lynnie believes deeply in establishing connections with those who need them and appreciates the effort Degrees of Change makes to do just that.

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.

Amber Ortiz-Diaz, M.Ed.

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.

Tono Sablan

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.

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.

Evelyn Tzib

Yakima Valley Program Coordinator

Evelyn was born and raised in the Yakima Valley, WA. She graduated from Eastern Washington University with a bachelor’s in Marketing. She was the first generation to attend and graduate from a university. She has a passion for helping others better themselves and to see them achieve their goals. She wants to give back to her community by giving others the tools and support they need for them to develop their own leadership skills and is excited to be working alongside colleges who have the same goal.

Cecilia Vizcaino de la Mora

Yakima Valley Program Assistant

Cecilia is an Act Six alum from the fifth cadre at Heritage University, where she completed a Bachelor of Social Work and a minor in Psychology. She is passionate about fighting for immigrant rights and helping undocumented folks. Cecilia grew up in the Yakima Valley and is excited about connecting with students and helping them achieve their highest potential.

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.

Samarri Williams

Operations Intern

Samarri brings a lens of equity, compassion, and service into everything she does. She studies leadership development and social entrepreneurship at The Evergreen State College. She’s involved in student government and is developing a not-for-profit organization with her peers. Long-term, Samarri looks forward to attaining her Master’s in Public Administration to further her role as a community servant and advocate. At Degrees of Change, Samarri is excited to support the Seed Internships program through curriculum development, program management, and establishing business relationships.

Kanwal Yousuf, M.A.

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.