Welcome to the Class of 2024! We have selected outstanding fellows from across Washington with a rich collection of backgrounds and experiences.

Andrew Mark Carlos
Andrew Mark Carlos

Andrew Mark Carlos (he/him/his) is a community organizer with a passion for community engagement especially among younger voters and historically underrepresented communities.

Andrew Mark started his leadership journey when his middle school history teacher recruited him to join student government. He stayed involved and engaged in student leadership until he served as Legislative & Finance Director in his Associated Student Government in college. Among his proudest achievements are working with student activists and administrators to revive the historic Red Nations Club, reorganizing the LGBTQ+ Alliance, and leading the committee for “The Week of the Woman, A Women’s Suffrage Centennial Celebration” that featured US Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers and the diverse women leaders who served at Spokane Falls Community College at the time while highlighting the necessary work for women to access positions of power.

Andrew Mark is currently serving on the Executive Board of the Spokane NAACP, as the Third Legislative District’s State Central Committeeman and is the Chair of Community & Economic Development for Nuestras Raíces, which is the parent organization of the Hispanic Business Professionals Association, Spokane County’s largest Hispanic/Latinx business & social association. He is also active in the Young Democrats of America, Young Democrats of Washington State and previously served as the co-chair of the Young Democrats of Spokane County. When he finds the time, Andrew Mark likes to go out with friends, attempt his hand at gardening, try new recipes, volunteer at his church, and spend time with his family.

Ash Parasa
Ash Parasa
Ash Parasa is an urbanist who was born in India and raised in northern New Jersey. He is currently working to improve pedestrian, cycling, and public transit infrastructure in Seattle by volunteering with the board of Seattle Subway, as well as Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and Futurewise. Ash earned his B.S. in Computer Science from Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo with a minor in Data Science. He discovered his passion for urbanism as an undergraduate researching the use of Dutch transportation engineering methods in the U.S. and during his time living and working in the Netherlands, where he saw how those methods made life safer, healthier, and more sustainable. Ash’s political experience includes working as a campaign intern for NJ Governor Phil Murphy’s campaign and volunteering for the campaigns of progressive city council candidates in Seattle. Outside of his organizing and political involvement, Ash lives in Seattle with his partner and works as a software engineer at Amazon. He spends his free time exploring the food scene, traveling to new places, and enjoying the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest.
Braden Sigua
Braden Sigua
Braden works on policy development and community engagement as the Legislative Assistant to State Senator John Lovick. Raised in Snohomish and living in Seattle, Braden graduated from Seattle University in 2020 with degrees in Philosophy and Spanish, while working on multiple political campaigns through NWP Consulting and I-1639 through the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. Prior to working for the State Legislature, Braden worked as a Senior WA Fundraising Manager for Senator Patty Murray’s 2022 reelection. In his personal time, Braden enjoys finding new ways to cook tofu, hiking in the North Cascades, discovering the best small restaurants in Seattle, and no surprise, bouldering at his local bouldering gym.
Calvin Jones
Calvin Jones
Calvin Jones works as a session aide to State Senator John Lovick. For the past 9 years, he’s been a Seattle advocate for progressive taxation, stronger environmental policy, and modern housing policy as a TikToker, organizer with Tech 4 Housing, and citizen advocate. He previously worked as a product manager at Microsoft, Google, and DoorDash, and enjoys skiing and climbing in his spare time.
Chirag Vedullapalli
Chirag Vedullapalli
Chirag Vedullapalli recently graduated from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business with majors in Finance and Political Science, and a minor in Education. Originally from the Snoqualmie Valley, WA, he has since worked on multiple political campaigns for U.S. Rep. Adam Smith and WA State Sen. Patty Kuderer. Chirag is also an accomplished artist, focusing on acrylic and oil on canvas, and donates the proceeds from his art sales to local and international non-profits. Outside of his professional interests, Chirag opts to be outside whenever possible, and most recently completed the Enchantments through-hike in one day!
Fiona Murray
Fiona Murray
Fiona is an Operations and Policy Analyst in early learning and child care policy. While studying for her Masters in Public Administration at the University of Washington, she became passionate about and fascinated with theories of equitable policy development and infuses these into her professional and volunteer work. She currently serves on the Seattle Community Involvement Commission and has worked on campaigns and in local organizing, consulted for the U.S. Census Bureau, interned with Seattle’s City Council, and served as a fellow with IGNITE National, the largest organization empowering young women to run for office. Fiona grew up in the suburbs of Seattle and currently lives in the Eastlake neighborhood. She loves to run, see theatre, cook for her friends, and foster dogs.
Francis Choe
Francis Choe
Francis Choe is a strategic communications program manager for a Seattle-based public involvement and communications firm. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Francis has over 15 years of experience as a communications, government, and community affairs professional. His experience includes working in the State Legislative and Executive Branches and the Honolulu City Council. He also served on the government and community affairs teams at Hawaiian Telcom and Alexander & Baldwin before relocating to Washington. He currently resides in Redmond and serves as a Co-Chair of the Mentor Hawaii program of the Young Professionals Program of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.
Jennifer Gordon
Jennifer Gordon
Jennifer (She/They) is a Registered Nurse and health policy professional from Everett, WA. Born and raised in Everett, Jennifer is a proud graduate of the Everett Public School system, and works as a clinical nurse and associate faculty in the nursing department at Everett Community College. Jennifer obtained their Master of Public Administration from University of Washington and in addition to their paid work they serve on the Board of the Everett Public Libraries, the community advisory group for Sound Transit’s Everett light rail extension, and with a group of healthcare professionals to advocate for healthcare and public health related legislation with the Washington state legislature. Jennifer enjoys running, backpacking, family time, and their two sweet, old doggos.
Jeremy Knapp
Jeremy Knapp
Jeremy Knapp is the Executive Legislative Assistant to Senator Marko Liias (D-21) and has worked in the office for five sessions. Throughout their entire political career, Jeremy has passionately advocated for LGBTQ rights and increased gun responsibility. While working in Senator Liias’ office, Jeremy has found a new interest in expanding public transit options to more people across the state. Before their time at the Legislature, Jeremy worked on five political campaigns, including Pinky Vargas’ bid for the 42nd State Senate seat in 2018 and Congressman Derek Kilmer’s 2020 re-election campaign. They grew up around Bellingham and graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in the spring of 2021. Jeremy loves to cook and bake in their free time, especially when listening to copious amounts of Taylor Swift.
Kelly Nguyen
Kelly Nguyen
Kelly is a Tacoma native hailing from a family of Vietnamese immigrant. She got her bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering, Public Health & Sociology at University of Redlands. She’s always been interested in how technology and data can be used for social good. When she realized that she didn’t love looking through lines of code, she decided to apply to be a Legislative Assistant for the House Democratic Caucus at the State Legislature. She’s spent the last year and a half learning more about how policy works and our state. She’s passionate about behavioral health, healthcare accessibility, affordable housing, urban design, and building more equitable communities.
Kelsey Hamlin
Kelsey Hamlin
Kelsey Hamlin works in communications for a few of Percussion Strategic’s clients. She was recently campaign manager for Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales, closing a 9-point election-night gap to win re-election. While it was Kelsey’s third candidate campaign, it was only the second one to advance to the general election, and her first time working for an incumbent. She’s passionate about making positive change in the moments that legalities, systems and policies touch people’s everyday lives. But Kelsey also loves cats, anime, and art. After graduating from the University of Washington in 2017, she remains in Seattle. At first, Kelsey was a journalist, but she switched to communications and organizing, helping local and state policy campaigns (RCV for Seattle, Missing Middle Housing, and many more).
Kenny Ryan
Kenny Ryan
Kenny Ryan was born in Berkeley, California, and grew up in Austin, Texas. After an award-winning career in journalism, he earned an MBA and moved to Seattle, where he now works remote for Nike. Outside of work, Kenny serves on the Governor-appointed Adult Education Advisory Council, which is dedicated to improving adult education access and outcomes across Washington state. He also researches, writes, hosts, and produces a presidential history podcast titled [Abridged] Presidential Histories. Kenny lives in West Seattle with his wife, Deborah, and a 13-lb lap dog named Sasquatch. You can often find him out hiking the Cascades or hosting friends and family at his home.
Mike Pond
Mike Pond
An accomplished advocate for community engagement and progressive change, Mike Pond serves as the Political Communications Organizer in SW WA for FUSE Washington. In his role, Mike leads digital and offline organizing projects, mobilizing volunteers and community leaders to extend the reach and impact of FUSE into Southwest Washington. With a background in local politics, grassroots organizing, and campaigning, Mike brings a wealth of experience. A Vancouver native, Mike’s civic activism began very early on in his youth, earning the honor of Eagle Scout. His commitment continued through academic pursuits, obtaining degrees from Clark College and Western Washington University. Over the last decade, Mike has played a crucial role in local campaigns, actively supporting community initiatives such as affordable housing, and clean industries at the Port of Vancouver. His leadership roles, such as Board Member for the Queer Youth Resource Center (501 c3), Chair of Young Democrats of Clark County, as well as Precinct Committee Officer (PCO), highlight his experience and dedication to democracy.
Olivia Yelton
Olivia Yelton
Liv (she/her) is a third-year apprentice electrician with Local 191 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union. Within her Local, she participates as the Chair of the Committee on Political Education, as well as the Vice Chair of the SISTERS Committee and the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus. She’s served as a delegate to the State Labor Council, her County Labor Council, and several other conventions within the labor movement. She is passionate about advocating for others and is heavily involved as an advocate and activist fo LGBTQIA2+ people, especially within the trans community. She’s the founder and copresident of a nonprofit organization called the Advocacy Coalition for Transgender Siblings (ACTS), which operates as a safe space for trans and non-binary members of the IBEW and advocates for their rights and the education of the industry. In her free time, she enjoys weightlifting, hiking, self-educating, and spending time with her loved ones and her two cats.
Pamela
Pamela Cortez
Pamela Cortez works on ensuring safe, sustainable, and responsible development of emerging technologies, like Artificial Intelligence, for the Office of the Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft. Pamela is a recognized industry leader in tech, who has over a decade of experience building and launching products, as well as teaching students, teachers, startups, and companies about the latest technologies. Her passion for the intersection of inclusion in tech and public policy has led her to advocating for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in under-represented communities at the White House Week of Making and being a leader in several nonprofits like Women Who Code and r00tz (an organization dedicated to teaching ethical hacking and growing an inclusive and diverse next generation of security experts). She currently lives in Seattle, where she enjoys drumming poorly, collecting new hobbies, and volunteering locally.
Rocco DeVito
Rocco DeVito
Rocco DeVito is a customer relationship manager at King County Metro, helping businesses and their employees to make the most of our local transit system. He is a former vice-chair of the Burien Planning Commission and an active member and PCO of the 33rd Legislative District Democrats. Rocco is passionate about building community, increasing safety and access to active transportation, and simplifying zoning to increase housing. He received a B.S. in conservation biology from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and a master’s in public administration from the University of Vermont. In between degrees, he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mauritania and Liberia. In his free time, you can find Rocco gardening, biking, or refining his pizza recipes.
Sahba
Sahba Azami
Sahba Azami, a multilingual Gender-Based Violence Prevention Specialist, brings a wealth of experience across government, nonprofit, and media spheres. Sahba’s expertise in program management, policy development, and diplomatic relations flourished through impactful roles within Afghanistan’s Administrative Office of the President. Instrumental in shaping national and international relations strategies, Sahba’s Master’s in International Relations and Bachelor’s in Law underscore a dedication to effecting meaningful change. Recognized for human rights and women’s rights advocacy, Sahba fervently champions gender-based violence prevention, aiming to foster safer communities on a global scale.
Sulley Schuster
Sulley Schuster
Sulley Schuster works on public engagement and strategic communications for regional mobility and transportation projects at a Seattle-based consulting firm. From conducting in-person outreach to developing high-level strategy for large-scale infrastructure projects, Sulley brings a passion for policy and a knack for community-oriented problem solving to her work. She has worked for The Public Interest Network, a local environmental justice non-profit, served in AmeriCorps, and over the course of her consulting career, done high-profile work for agencies including WSDOT, Sound Transit, and the Ports of Seattle and Everett. Born and raised in Kona, Hawaii, Sulley graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Political Science and Environmental Studies. She currently lives in Seattle’s University District and serves on the board of the Women in Transportation Seminar’s Puget Sound Chapter.
Teresa Bendito-Zepeda
Teresa Bendito-Zepeda
Teresa Bendito, born of two Mexican immigrants and raised in Wenatchee, still calls this vibrant community home. While in college, she served as a community organizer and co-founded Parque Padrinos, championing park advocacy, fostering relationships, and facilitating culturally relevant outdoor experiences in South Wenatchee. Currently serving as the Organizing Manager for Rural People’s Voice, Teresa actively contributes to building a future that ensures prosperity for the working- and middle-class families. In her role, she engages in authentic storytelling to share the experiences, origins, and needs of the community while working towards a government that is by, for, and of the people. Drawing from her past community organizing experiences, Teresa understands the tangible wins and positive changes neighbors can create when they work together to build collective power. Teresa is dedicated to social justice and building political power in NCW to shape the future for its diverse residents.
Timothy
Timothy Billing
Timothy is a recent graduate of the University of Washington earning degrees in International Studies and Psychology. Growing up 20 minutes away from the campus, he has spent much of his time working on supporting and uplifting communities in the Seattle area. While at UW, he was elected as Senate Speaker as well as Student Body President representing over 45,000+ students. During that time, he worked on dozens of issues including land-use policies, educational access, LGBTQ+ centered programming, supporting undocumented students, and reproductive healthcare. Timothy also comes with campaign experience volunteering for Senator Murray and, most recently, serving as a Campaign Manager for an incumbent Seattle City Councilmember. He currently lives in Seattle with his partner and two cats, and enjoys traveling, attending concerts, and new experiences.