Karen’s role as Executive Director is to plan and execute the overall strategic and operational responsibility for ANEW’s staff, programs, expansion and execution of its mission. Karen comes to ANEW from Montana where she led programs and advocated for policies focused on building economic security for all. Karen is a dedicated servant leader and has a passion for social justice issues. Karen is committed to developing collaborative partnerships resulting in systemic change. Throughout her career, she has utilized her entrepreneurial spirit and skills to create and implement new and innovative programs aimed at moving people toward family wage jobs. Karen is also a published author and when not serving her community, Karen likes to spend time on the beach, and she counts her three children are her proudest accomplishments.
Kerstin Torrescano, Director of Operations
Kerstin comes to ANEW as a Seattle born native where she attended the University of Washington and received her BA in social work and then continued on to receive her Master’s degree in social work from the University of Kentucky. Kerstin likes working in non-profit because she has a devoted drive to provide opportunities for her students to learn and create pathways for them to change their lives. Kerstin says, “Celebrating ALL the successes students have, no matter what they are doing in programming, is the best part of my job and inspires me.” Coming from Seattle’s YouthBuild Program she brings experience in innovative program development and best practices for program quality. Kerstin was a local high school and college athlete who now enjoys coaching girls AAU basketball in the local area. In her spare time she likes to read, hike, play basketball, and listen to lots and lots of music!
Dee Jackson, Director of Programs
Dee has spent the last decade and a half working for the Seattle Public, an Independent School, and nonprofits that partnership with School Districts such as Community Learning Centers and YMCAs. Dee has worked as a Behavioral Specialist and Program Director for various nonprofits and the Public-School District. She was born and raised in Seattle and lived on the East Coast, while being a college athlete, where she earned a degree in Child Psychology. Dee also earned a Child Developments Associates and Extended Education Certificate from the University of Washington. Dee has 14 nieces and nephews with whom she loves to spend time and go on adventures.
Megan Clark, Strategic Partnerships Specialist
As the Strategic Partnerships Specialist, Megan works closely with apprentices, community organizations, contractors and other non-profit and government programs, supporting and executing communication strategies to raise awareness of our programs and generate new partnerships. Prior to coming to ANEW, Megan comes from the promotional marketing and Fire Alarm services background. She has experience with working closely with clients and service technicians in the fire alarm industry handling service calls, scheduling building inspections and developing service protocols as needed. When she is not working, she has a 17-year-old daughter and 14 year old son she loves to spend time with. She has done the Seattle To Portland bike ride (STP) 5 times, loves to ski with her kids during the winter and the water, sun and fun during the summer!
Roxane Blevens, Operations Assistant
Roxane is responsible for coordination and overseeing the case management for the Apprenticeship Opportunities Project (AOP) department. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and has been with ANEW since 2017. Prior to joining the ANEW team, Roxane worked as the Operations Manager for a men’s clothing store for 7 years. Most recently, she worked in client collections for an IT solutions company because it brought her closer to home. However, she quickly realized that she missed working with such a variety of people every day and found what she missed when she came on board with ANEW. Roxane is married to a union painter and has a son and a daughter, both of whom keep her very busy! In her free time, she enjoys watching the Seahawks, trying new recipes, and exploring the Pacific Northwest.
Denise Nicole’ Johnson, Apprentice Opportunities Project (AOP) Program Manager
Denise attended Highline College, receiving her Associate Degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management. She completed Professional Education training in Race, Equity, and Leadership in Schools at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Before joining ANEW, Denise worked in workforce development as the Career & Education Navigator for Port Jobs’ Airport Jobs and Airport University Programs. Her generosity to participants, contributions to institutional practices and reforms, and the ability to spearhead, sustain and cultivate community partnerships are unparalleled. She has the relentless drive as a former lead race and equity champion for the Annie E. Casey Funded Generation Work initiative.
Denise is a graduate of ANEW’s TRP Program and became a Cement Mason Apprentice with Local 528. She continued her education at Arcade Wayfinding, where she received a certificate in Project Management in Construction and found her way back to ANEW as the Apprenticeship Opportunities Project (AOP) Program Manager. Denise exhibits her strong academic, community-building, and workforce development skills. She is one of the rare professionals that enrich the lives of those who receive, manage, administer, and fund services and the institutions that exist to support these efforts.
David Watkins, Grant Writer
As the resident grant writer, David responds to funding solicitations from local businesses, family and corporate foundations, and government entities to support ANEW’s programming. Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, he earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in 2012 before spending five years in Houston in various fundraising roles for non-profit organizations. In his off hours, David enjoys watching football and baseball (Go 49ers and SF Giants!), making people groan at his jokes, and taste-testing salsas that may cause him to blackout. Embodying many classic writer stereotypes, David avoids going outdoors and socializing whenever possible.
Venus Dean-Bullinger, Youth Exploration Program Supervisor
Venus has worked in Customer Service, Account Management, and health insurance brokerage for over 30 years. She has volunteered with many local non-profits to include Tacoma Peirce County Chamber of Commerce (Westend board member), HopeSparks, Tacoma’s Hilltop/Housing Authority Design The Hill and Tacoma Communities in Schools as a board member. With her passion for volunteerism and education, she also worked with the new SOAR Academy as their Enrollment Team Coordinator. She left the brokerage world 3 years ago and transitioned to her dream job as an Employment Case Manager with the Tacoma Training to Employment Program at Sound Outreach. As an Employment Case Manager, she worked with the pre-apprenticeship cohorts at Bates Tech to remove barriers so that they may successfully complete their courses and move into an apprenticeship program or a living wage position here in the Puget Sound.
Today she builds relationships between our local high school’s Vocational Rehabilitation departments to allowing students the ability to explore the building trades in hopes of preparing them for our pre-apprenticeship programs. She has been married for over 30 years and has two adult children. In her spare time, she and her family love cooking, entertaining, and taking trips to new and exciting places.
Ryan Rogers, Trades Rotation Program (TRP) Program Manager
Ryan graduated from St. Martins University with B.A. in Social Work in 2015. He previously worked for 3 years at Neighborhood House as a Lead Employment Specialist for the Resources to Initiate Successful Employment (RISE) Program and assisted high-barrier individuals whom needed soft skills/job readiness training, and support services to obtain successful employment. Before Neighborhood House, Ryan interned as a youth counselor for Haven House a 12-18 run-away at-risk youth shelter and the Boys and Girls club. Ryan is a former athlete and coaches High School basketball. When he’s not working, he has a 1-year old Bull Mastiff to take to dog parks and on truck rides. He also enjoys camping and floating rivers in the summers, reading, working out, working on house projects, traveling with friends, and listening to different podcasts on long commutes to/from work.
Michelle Layne, Trades Rotation Program (TRP) Program Instructor
Michelle is an Indiana-native and proud Navy Veteran. As a member of the Laborers Union Local 242, she has worked 6 years doing intensive laboring skills, as expected. Michelle is a mother of two children and has two grandchildren. She enjoys taking care of her farm animals and spending time with her family in her spare time. Michelle is ecstatic to be a part of the ANEW program to give her experiences, knowledge and passion as a woman in the construction industry.
Bo Barrett, Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Education (PACE) Program Instructor
Bo was born and raised in Spanaway, Washington. He is a member of the Laborers Union local 242 and worked for 5 years doing Demolition and Hazardous Waste removal. In his free time, Bo enjoys playing/watching sports as well as spending time with his best friend and daughter, Mia. Bo is excited to be a part of the ANEW program to help give others an opportunity to find their passion in the construction industry.
Chris ‘CJ’ Cruz, Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Education (PACE) Program Instructor
CJ was born in long beach, CA and raised in Spanaway, WA. He’s been apart of the local 242 for 7 years now. Also has been head coach for tackle football for 8 Years. He has a beautiful wife of 7 years, and 3 wonderful children named Kaidin, Gracie, Noah. On CJ’s free time he likes to participate in outdoor activities (camping, fishing, lake/river days), traveling, group gatherings, projects around his house, coaching, watching professional sports, and watching his children compete in many sports. CJ is very excited to be part of the ANEW program to give youth and adults the chance and knowledge to be part of the construction world that he was blessed to be apart of.
Jasmine Maisonet, Outreach & Communications Manager
Jasmine was born and raised in New York and received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from Rochester Institute of Technology. She is a highly-creative, multi-faceted Designer with 10 years of professional experience in digital and print design, as well as photography, marketing, and branding. Jasmine has a passion for building community, especially for those who have been marginalized, and is excited to dive into the non-profit world and join the ANEW team. In her free time, Jasmine runs a hiking group called QPOC Hikers, which exists to connect queer people of color with hiking and the outdoors by creating space to share stories and experiences, increasing visibility, representation, and awareness, and organizing opportunities for learning and growth. She also loves spending time with her family and fur-babies.
DeAunte’ Damper, Outreach & Recruitment Specialist
Born in Seattle, WA, DeAunte’ has focused his work on bringing HIV awareness and LGBTQ-affirming education to marginalized communities throughout the City of Seattle. This started through his non-profit work at POCAAN as a Peer Navigator. Damper also partnered with the Department of Health to teach cultural humility classes to healthcare workers in the State of Washington and nationally. In April 2019, Damper began as a Transitional Specialist for the WA State Department of Corrections and as of November 2019, he is Rainier Beach High School’s Black Student Union Advisor. Damper started a support group for young men of color called Blacks Recovering Overcoming Trauma Health and Awareness (B.R.O.T.H.A.). He is currently the VP of WA Therapy Fund, the Co-Chair of the LGBTQ Commissions office for the City of Seattle and newly appointed Chair of Black Lives Matter Seattle King County.
Faith Tindi, RISE Up Business Manager
Faith comes to as a Bcom graduate, with deep expertise in business strategy, people management and organization development. Tindi is a thought leader promoting diversity initiatives, and is responsible for designing programs to retain, develop, and advance diverse professionals. Tindi believes Family is the most important currency you can have and her biggest motivation comes from her son.
Nicole Fillmore-Meshesha, RISE Up Program Manager
Nicole holds a BA in Applied Psychology and received formal training as an employment coach. She is a native to the Greater Seattle area and has spent the last 16 years focused on workforce development and education with the goal of increasing earned income for those experiencing poverty.