Staff

Leadership Team

Emily Yim (she/her)

President & Chief Executive Officer

emily yim

Emily Yim is the President & CEO of Washington Alliance for Better Schools (WABS), a collaboration of Puget Sound school districts, whose mission is to leverage resources, talent, and intellectual capital to help over a quarter million students graduate career and college ready. Emily works with the Board of Directors, comprised of the Superintendents from the respective member school districts, along with industry and higher education leaders to implement collaborative efforts to develop exceptional teachers, engaged students, and empowered families across the region. She also serves as the Chair for the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) in Washington, D.C., providing leadership in governance and policy advocacy, which serves over 520 governing boards and 6,500 trustees. She serves as the Chair of the ACCT Public Policy Committee and is the former Chair of the API and Native American Caucus. Ms. Yim was also the founding Director of the Department of Neighborhoods and Community Affairs for the City of Lynnwood; Vice President of Community and External Affairs at Washington Mutual Bank, helping to oversee and invest a $29 million annual philanthropic budget; Campaign Coordinator at Microsoft; and a former Board Member of the International District Housing Alliance in Seattle, United Way of Snohomish County, and the Community Services Advisory Council for Snohomish County. She completed her B.A. in International Studies and Political Science at the University of Washington.

Shereen Henry (she/her)

Vice President

Shereen Henry has been involved with K-12 education for over 20 years. She taught high school math at Shorecrest High School in Shoreline, WA for 11 years before moving to the district offices to serve as the Secondary Math Instructional Specialist for Shoreline Public Schools. In this role, Shereen built up an extensive background in implementing and designing professional development and support for mathematics teachers. She has also collaborated with colleagues around teacher leadership through the national Teach to Lead movement with the intent of building leaders in our school buildings. Ms. Henry has a passion for college and career readiness and has been involved in numerous partnerships and grants with higher education to further student opportunities.

Shereen joined WABS in 2015; her role that allows her to focus on college and career readiness in the STEM fields. In addition to her role at WABS, Shereen is also a WA state Bridge to College Math trainer, supporting the implementation of the new senior level course that leads to college readiness for the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges. Shereen holds a B.A. in History from Harding University and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in mathematics from the University of Washington.

Jennifer Martinez (she/her)

Director of Equity and Family Engagement

Jennifer was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she spent her childhood outside, in the arroyo behind her house basking in the sun and breathing in the smells of juniper and clay. It was in this place that her imagination ran wild and dreams of serving the community were formed. These dreams led to experience as a community educator, teacher, program manager, and family advocate. While in Santa Fe she worked for organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc, and the Office of the State Historian. She also worked for two years at her former high school, Capital High School, as a Seminar teacher and GEAR UP Site Coordinator. Jennifer moved to Shoreline in 2012 and began working for the Shoreline School District in 2013. She worked as a Specialist in the Office of the Assistant Superintendent and a Family Advocate at Echo Lake Elementary. She has served on several Shoreline District committees and currently still serves on the District Race and Equity Steering Committee. Jennifer has been with WABS since 2017.

She holds a BA in Humanities from the College of Santa Fe and an MA in Educational Leadership – Community and Organizational Learning from the University of New Mexico. In her free time, Jennifer loves to spend time with her husband, two teenage daughters, and toddler. She loves to cook, write, and explore the Pacific Northwest as much as possible.

April Nilsen (she/her)

Director of Development & Communications

An east coast native, April Nilsen joined WABS in 2014 while completing her graduate degree, which focused on education policy, program evaluation, and nonprofit management. April has held many roles at WABS, including overseeing student programs and as the organization’s grant writer. Currently, she is the Director of Development and Communications. Previously, she has experience as an educator and an administrator in early childhood education.

April holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan, and a Master’s in Public Administration from the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Washington. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Snohomish County Legal Services. In her time outside of work, April enjoys spending time with her daughters, listening to podcasts, and exploring the outdoors.

Daisy Alcayaga-Neri (she/her)

Administrative & Finance Manager

Daisy Alcayaga-Neri joined the WABS team in 2018 supporting leadership and operations. In 2020 she expanded her role, overseeing financial management of the organization. She has over 8 years of marketing and human resources experience in the private sector working for small businesses and also served as an intern with United Way. She is excited to join the non-profit sector because she wants to make a difference in the community. Daisy found WABS to be an excellent fit because she is passionate about the academic achievement and college readiness of all students, particularly in public education.

Daisy holds a BA in Economics with a minor in Sociology from the University of California, San Diego. She grew up in Southern California and recently moved back to the Pacific Northwest after living in Japan and exploring Southeast Asia for 3-1/2 years. Daisy enjoys traveling and learning about new places, foods, and cultures with her husband, two kids, and her Maltese.

Van Onishi (he/him)

Director of Educator Leadership

Van grew up in Hawaii, and he has lived in California and Japan. His work as a teacher in Japanese schools profoundly shaped a passion for fostering curiosity and collaboration in the classroom. Before joining WABS in 2021, he taught English in the Bellevue School District and Mukilteo School District. For several years, he served as a curriculum leader to increase student access to underrepresented voices and more diverse content in literature courses. Van is a National Board Certified Teacher who holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Seattle Pacific University and a Master in Teaching from Western Washington University. He enjoys traveling, reading, and running. 

John Bonner (he/him)

King and Pierce County Regional Network Director

John joined WABS in July 2021 as the King and Pierce County Regional Network Director. In this role he catalyzes and convenes outcome-focused collaborations with industry, community-based organizations, education systems, and other key partners to drive the work for Career Connected Learning. Prior to this, John served as Vice President of Corporate & Workforce Training at Everett Community College. This role included collaboratively leading the design, development, and implementation of several new regional centers for high demand career training as well as developing strategic networks and partnerships to create equitable education pathways across industry, labor, K-12, and higher education boundaries.

John has served as a board member with Boys and Girls Club Snohomish County, Economic Alliance Snohomish County, and Everett Area Chamber of Commerce. He has held faculty and managerial roles forging global partnerships for international education at the University of Washington, where he also completed graduate degrees in Teaching and Public Administration. He is currently completing his doctorate in higher education leadership at Northeastern University.

Grace Schouten (she/her)

Program Manager

Grace Schouten joined WABS as an Executive Assistant in 2019, where she supported programming and operations. She became passionate about the nonprofit sector while working in child protective services and juvenile justice diversion programs where she worked directly with youth and families. In prior roles, Grace facilitated professional trainings and managed volunteer groups supporting programs for women and children. In her work, she most enjoys connecting people with their community and strengthening public programs.

Grace holds a BA in Criminology and Sociology from the University of South Florida, and an MPA in Nonprofit Management from South University. She grew up throughout the Southeast, moving to many new places as a military daughter. She enjoys volunteering, cycling, board games, and being outdoors with her family. 

Sam Giffin (he/him)

21st Century Community Learning Center Program Director

Sam is originally from Toledo, Ohio and has lived in Kentucky, California, and Oregon before becoming a Washingtonian. After studying archaeology at the University of Kentucky and realizing a life of digging holes was not for him, Sam has spent the last 10 years in youth development. In those years, he has been involved with physical education, summer camping, and outdoor education before taking on the role of 21st CCLC Program Director in April of 2021.

Often you can find Sam with his family going on a hike, playing a round of disc golf or discovering a new National Park.

Margeaux Hushagen (she/her)

21st Century Community Learning Center Program Director

Margeaux was born and raised in Western Washington. She has a M.S. in Special Education, a M.Ed. in Learning and Technology, and a B.A. in Sociology/Social Studies. She also earned her teaching certificate from Woodring College of Education at Western Washington University.

In addition to her role at WABS, she also is a full-time teacher. In her spare time she enjoys reading, sewing, and spending time with friends and family.

For a complete list of staff at the WABS 21st CCLC sites, please email info@wabsalliance.org.

Jo Tono (he/him)

Healthcare Project Manager

Jo joined WABS in April 2022 as the healthcare project manager. In this role, he works with the Health Industries Leadership Table (HILT), a network of healthcare organizations in Seattle-King County, education systems, and community-based organizations to diversify and expand the healthcare workforce around the Puget Sound. To accomplish this, his project revolves around providing healthcare career exploration activities to K-12 and post-secondary education students who are interested in pursuing healthcare. He is excited for the opportunity to advance health and education equity.

Prior to this role, Jo’s work has spanned the public-private space in healthcare, whether that be as a patient care technician at the UW, management consultant at PwC, community organizer at various nonprofits in Seattle, and a research assistant at Fred Hutch. He holds a Biochemistry B.A. and International Studies & Global Health B.A. from the University of Washington.

Fernanda Jardim (she/her)

Family Engagement Program Manager

Fernanda Jardim is the Family Engagement Program Manager and works directly with our Natural Leaders Program. She has a  diverse professional background ranging from Program Management around Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging to communications and the travel industry. As a Black Latina, her first language is Brazilian Portuguese and as an immigrant, she knows firsthand how challenging it is to navigate the school system and the other systems in this country.

In her free time, she enjoys  spending time with her dog, gardening, reading, and spending time outdoors.

Maryam Noor (she/her)

Communications Coordinator

Maryam joined WABS in April 2022, as the Communications Coordinator. She is currently completing a Master’s in Public Administration with a focus on social policy, policy analysis, and public financial management at the Evans Schools of Public Policy and Governance. She is passionate about educational justice and equity. 

Maryam has previously received Bachelor’s Degrees in Economics and Journalism and Public Interest Communication from the University of Washington, Seattle. She has work experience in both the nonprofit and higher education sectors. When she’s not working at WABS or working towards her master’s degree, she can be found reading, hiking, and enjoying pop culture.

Kyleigh Sapp (she/her)

ASSA Program Manager

Kyleigh grew up in western Michigan before attending Northern Michigan University where she earned her B.A. in International Studies & Spanish. After 3 years working for a TRIO program, and serving 2 years as an AmeriCorps member she joined the WABS team in May of 2022.

In her spare time she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with friends and family.

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