Thought Partners

Diverse community leaders deeply committed to Soar's mission.

advisory board

Ambika Beck

Program Manager, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Ambika Beck is a Seattle native with a long career in the nonprofit sector.  She is currently a Program Manager with the Finance, Resource and Planning division at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Prior to her transition to the finance team, she had extensive experience in both grants and contracts management as well as on the local grant-making team.  Her background is primarily in analysis, process improvement, due diligence, facilitation, and leadership.  She has a passion for problem solving, supporting teams through change, and driving impact through improving organizational organizations.  She lives in the Mount Baker neighborhood with her husband and two pets.

Carlina Brown Banks

Senior Director of Community Engagement, Community Center for Education Results

Carlina currently serves as Senior Director of Community Engagement for the Community Center for Education Results, which supports a large collective impact initiative called the Road Map Project. She began her leadership journey by serving as a parent leader on Policy Council of the largest Head Start Grant west of the Mississippi River in Denver, Co. Carlina has been recognized by the Obama administration as a Champion for Change by the White House-2012, through her work with the Rainier Beach High School PTSA. Originally from Denver, Co. Carlina is the mother of seven children, ranging from 10 to 32 years old, and has one grandson. Her favorite out of office activities is camping, spontaneous road trips,  reading and spending quality time with friends and family.

Carlina excited to work with the team and community of Soar. She believes Soar is set to authentically support community capacity building that will lead to substantial systemic change on behalf of equity and quality of services.

Elizabeth Whitford

Chief Executive Director, Schools Out Washington

Elizabeth Whitford is SOWA’s Chief Executive Officer. As the CEO, she is responsible for the management, programs and infrastructure of the organization. In the past, Elizabeth served as the Executive Director of Arts Corps, a nationally-recognized arts education and youth development organization, from 2008 through 2017, moving their vision, strategies and programs toward greater depth, efficacy and social justice impact. Prior to Arts Corps, Elizabeth focused her work on building voice and capacity within oppressed communities throughout the Northwest states as the founding operations director for a Northwest Native foundation, Potlatch Fund, and as the Executive Director of Odyssey Youth Center in Spokane, Washington.

Larissa Reza Garcia

College and Career Success Coordinator, Community Center for Education Results

Larissa currently works at the Community Center for Education Results as a College and Career Success Coordinator. Larissa has a passion for decolonizing education through the power of young people and has committed to push forth with immigration rights, as well helping other undocumented students and first gen-students obtain the resources necessary to attend higher education. She graduated from Chief Sealth International High School, and went to earn her Bachelors of Arts from the University of Washington, Seattle, where she majored in Social Welfare and minored in Diversity.

Luis Ortega

Director and Founder, Storytellers for Change

Luis Ortega is a multidisciplinary storyteller, social practice artist, and the founder and director of Storytellers for Change. Over the last thirteen years, Luis has worked with youth, educators, organizations, school districts, foundations, and universities to help them employ storytelling as a strategic approach to build more empathetic, inclusive and equitable programs and systems. Luis’ storytelling focuses on centering historically unheard narratives, highlighting the importance of radical story-listening, and the need to reflect on how the stories we tell (and the stories we don’t) shape our cultural capacity for empathy. Luis is also the producer of the mini-documentaries series “First Gen Students: Change Starts With Your Story,” which features nine first-generation college students from across the Puget Sound region. All of Luis’ work is informed by his personal experience as an undocumented immigrant and a commitment to social justice and radical empathy.

Marcy Miller

Community Partner

Marcy Miller has a broad range of experience and knowledge in the areas of early learning, program implementation and building effective systems and policies. She has worked for the last twenty three years in both the public and human services sector in direct service, nonprofit leadership, state level systems building, and strategic planning and policy work.  Marcy currently serves as the Strategic Advisor Help Me Grow, providing direction and project management for the prenatal to five investments within Best Starts for Kids in King County Washington.  Prior to her move the public sector, Marcy served for four years as the Director of Family Engagement, for a statewide organization, Thrive Washington. While serving at Thrive, Marcy supported building statewide infrastructure for Home Visiting across Washington State.  Marcy and her husband Mike have two daughters.

Why Marcy is excited about being a part of Soar’s advisory board: Soar is an amazing convener and lifts up the voice of families and youth who are often most effected by systems of oppression.  Soar role is critical in ensuring that systems meet the needs of families, youth and community.

Sarah Stachowiak, MPA

Chief Executive Director, ORS Impact

Sarah Stachowiak is CEO of ORS Impact, an evaluation firm that works with clients who are engaged in complex and innovative strategies to advance social change.  She loves helping clients think about how data, measurement and evaluation can help them learn and strengthen their work. In her free time, Sarah is happiest out in nature, enjoying good food, travelling, and spending time with her family. Sarah lives on Beacon Hill with her husband, two school-aged kids and a guinea pig (in lieu of a more labor-intensive pet).

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