Staff & Board

Staff

What’s your role at Pongo?

In my role as Co-Executive Director, Programs I’m responsible for Pongo’s programs, expansion, and the implementation of our mission.  In addition, I work closely with Nebeu, our Co-Executive Director, Development & Finance. Pongo holds a special place in my heart because I served as a poetry mentor from 2013-2017 while employed as a Recreation Therapist at the Child Study & Treatment Center; one of Pongo’s flagship program sites.  

Why does Pongo matter to you?

The work Pongo does is important because of the positive impact it has on individuals and their community. I’ve witnessed a youth’s self-confidence increase after writing a poem about a difficult time in their life. When a youth is empowered to write about challenges they’ve experienced and feel safe enough to share their poem with others, it brings them closer to their treatment team, friends, and family.

What/who is your favorite poem and/or poet?

Asking me to pick a favorite poem or poet is like asking me to shoot an arrow at a moving target, it’s always changing! At the moment, I’m vibing with Tonya Ingram. I especially like her poem, “How to Invite Yourself to Fall in Love Again,” from her collection, How to Survive Today.

What’s your role at Pongo?  

In my role as Co-Executive Director, Development & Finance, I’m responsible for Pongo’s development, finance, operations, and the implementation of our mission. In addition, I work closely with Ashley, our Co-Executive Director, Programs. Having the opportunity to leverage my development experience to secure the resources to help Pongo grow, and deliver on our vital mission, is incredibly fulfilling work.

Why does Pongo matter to you?

The youth we serve are dealing with compounding interpersonal and systemic inequities, the foundations of which are often unaddressed trauma. By offering an effective, empathetic, and healing intervention, Pongo plays a crucial role in advancing social justice. 

What/who is your favorite poem and/or poet?

“Never to Forget,” a poem by Arundhati Roy from her essay collection, The End of Imagination.

Board of Directors

What do you do for work?

I am the Events & Sponsorships Manager for Washington State Opportunity Scholarship, a non-profit serving minority students pursuing careers in STEM. I’ve also performed as a musician since 2007 and continue to do so when and where I can.

Why does Pongo matter to you?

I’m a passionate advocate for healing through expression of any kind. Similarly, to music, the power and potential of Pongo is unmistakable. Crossing cultures and borders, it requires that we tap into a universal feature of the human experience – ourselves.

What/who is your favorite poem and/or poet?

Still I Rise by the great Maya Angelou. Her unshakeable calm, confidence and courage is something I’ll always admire and revere.

What do you do for work?

I serve as the Executive Director of Peace Economy Project. In that role, I focus on promoting and advancing initiatives that shift away from a militarized economy towards one that values peace, social justice, and environmental stewardship.

Why does Pongo matter to you?

As a poet who grew up in a challenging environment, I understand how important poetry can be.

What/who is your favorite poem and/or poet?

The Tiger by William Blake

What do you do for work?

I am a consultant to nonprofits, mostly in the Pacific Northwest. The focus of my work is strategic planning and facilitating conversations around organizational identity and plans for the future.

Why does Pongo matter to you?

Everyone who comes in contact with Pongo has the chance to witness authentic personal expression and that, to me, is the most profound thing about being human.

What/who is your favorite poem and/or poet?

I can’t stop reading Ada Limón. I find her poems to be fierce, true and exquisite. I keep The Carrying by my bedside.

What do you do for work?

I’m the founder of The Third Layer, where I speak about, teach and facilitate how to grow more creativity in ourselves, each other, and the world. I’ve been a writer, journalist, editorial director and author (Explore Every Day, Lonely Planet, et al) for over 20 years, but my first career was in Deaf education.

Why does Pongo matter to you?

As a former Pongo mentor at CSTC for three years, I’ve seen firsthand how much healing, growth and self-acceptance can happen in this work. And as a writer and teacher, I know how powerful the opportunity to express yourself is — especially when coping with trauma. In fact, when the kiddos are writing, the poem sometimes takes on this almost magical quality. It’s like the very paper itself gently holds all strong emotions or difficult memories. I believe gifts like the Pongo process — celebrating and bearing witness to another’s creative self-expression, without judgment or expectations — is one of the most important things we can give kids (and adults, too!).

What/who is your favorite poem and/or poet?

I love reading Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rilke, Goethe, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, Billy Collins, Naomi Shihab Nye — all very different, I know! My favorite poem of all time is Sherman Alexie’s narrative Pachyderm, an emotional gut-punch of pure beauty.

What do you do for work?

I am a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. My primary clinical interests are emergency psychiatry, consult and liaison psychiatry, and culturally informed care. I am also in the process of developing a clinical pathway at Seattle Children’s Hospital for Native American patients and their families in need of mental health services within the WWAMI region (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho).

Why does Pongo matter to you?

As a youth, I felt that poetry was a major component of my ability to process my own adverse experiences growing up in rural Montana. This very personal connection is what ultimately drives me support a program such as Pongo that provides this same opportunity for underserved and at-risk youth to learn the power of poetic expression.

What/who is your favorite poem and/or poet? 

The love letters that Pablo Neruda wrote to all aspects of his life called to me as a young girl, naïve and enamored with the concept of love which has since matured and become more nuanced with age, just as his poems have on multiple revisits over the years.

Entrance of the Rivers

by Pablo Neruda

Beloved of the rivers, beset
By azure water and transparent drops,
Like a tree of veins your spectre
Of dark goddess biting apples:
And then awakening naked
To be tattooed by the rivers,
And in the wet heights your head
Filled the world with new dew.
Water rose to your waist,
You are made of wellsprings
And lakes shone on your forehead.
From your sources of density you drew
Water like vital tears
And hauled the riverbeds to the sand
Across the planetary night,
Crossing rough, dilated stone,
Breaking down on the way
All the salt of geology,
Cutting through forests of compact walls
Dislodging the muscles of quartz.

What do you do for work?

After a long career in health care administration, I am currently working as a small business consultant. I primarily provide guidance in the areas of operations, human resources, and finance. My primary goal is to gather as much information as possible, then help the client act on that data to drive business improvement. I focus on breaking down processes to improve operational efficiency and strongly believe that investing in people is critical to business success. 

In addition, I’m especially passionate about women’s health issues and emphasizing preventive measures to improve community health outcomes. I’m also a life-long runner, aspiring poet, optimistic gardener, wayward traveler, and unconditional dog-lover.

Why does Pongo matter to you?

I believe in the impact of the Pongo method and the role that poetry can play in healing from trauma and mental illness. The need is greater than ever to find creative, innovative ways to reach vulnerable youth in a variety of settings. I am excited to watch the organization grow!

What/who is your favorite poem and/or poet?

I appreciate the work of so many; in particular Claudia Rankine, Margaret Atwood, and Rupi Kaur for their brave and bold expression of difficult subject matter; and Mary Oliver for Dog Songs, which reminds me that poems can also bring joy and relief.

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