MEET OUR TEAM

MEET OUR PICA-WA STAFF

Joseph Seia was born in Los Angeles, grew up on Tutuila and Upolu islands with his ‘āiga in Sāmoa and eventually emigrated to Duwamish/Coast Salish Territory with his father Aitulagi Iosefa and his siblings in 1994. He has 15 years of experience in direct service & youth development work, antiracist-community organizing, and nonprofit leadership & administration. Joseph champions systems change work the centers the leadership and history of most impacted communities.

 

 

He is committed to ending the impacts of systemic racism through coalition building, centering anti-racism principles, and creating inter-generational leadership opportunities to co-design our Beloved Community. Joseph is Fa’afafine – he is a fierce advocate for QTBIPOC communities. He works actively against the political erasure of Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities and will continue to provide soul labor in re-envisioning what it means for NHPI people to feel cultural belonging. Joseph currently co-chairs the National NHPI Policy Council, and also co-chairs the local Undoing Institutional Racism Collaborative in King County.

Joseph Seia

Founder & Executive Director

Amelia was born and raised in the beautiful island Nation of Fiji. She migrated to the United States twenty years ago with her family. She attended Lynnwood High School, where she began her service work in being involved with her local community. 

 

She started a Pacific Islander dance troop called Island Breeze. Her post-high school education includes graduating from the Everett Corp and from American River College in California. She is an enrolled BSN student with the goal of becoming a nurse one day. Amelia also teaches CPR & First AID as a self-employed Instructor. 

 

She has a heart of service for her Pasifika community and wants to contribute in uniting our many different Pasifika nations through our collaborations. She also loves a game of tennis.

Amelia Vakalutukali

PROGRAM DIRECTOR,

WESTERN WASHINGTOn programs

Va’eomatoka “Toka” Valu was born and raised in the South Pacific Islands of Tonga and migrated to the United States with his late mother in 1997. His work reproduces visual motifs, symbols, and patterns from oceania, arranging them into redefined stories that honor the deep roots of the Pacific but are firmly entrenched in re-imagined brilliant futures. 

 

 

Toka heavily references his own cultural upbringing to explore the varying spaces (va) between all things where relationships are forged, negotiated, tested, and nurtured. Rather than settle for simply retelling the folklore of Oceania, Toka aims to encapsulate a future that Pacific Islanders deserve while keeping his past firmly in mind to guide the way through the confusion. Toka is a proud Pacific Islander, youth advocate, community organizer, Oceanic artist and Pacific Arts enthusiast who lives in Seatac with his partner, Maile, and their daughter, Loleto.

Va'eomatoka Valu

PROGRAM DIRECTOR,

communications & Pasifika arts development

Autasia “Sia” Westerlund is of Samoan heritage born on the Duwamish – Coast Salish Land aka Seattle. She has three younger brothers who are inspiring friends, leaders and siblings. She has served within the Pasifika community as an organizer for UPRISE Education Summit for many years. She rests in the confidence that our Pasifika communities heal and thrive most when we are together.

 

Autasia serves as an elder at Lake Burien Presbyterian Church surrounded by many who are just as passionate about intergenerational leadership, anti-racism and justice as she is. Autasia graduated from Federal Way High School and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Ethnic, Gender and Labor Studies from the University of Washington. 

Autasia Westerlund

Operations Manager

Jiji Jally is an advocate for health, justice and well-being for her Marshallese community in Washington State. She advocates for the vision that every child, adult and elder in her community – and all our communities – has the access to health care and full opportunities to live safe, healthy, long lives. She lives in Tumwater, Washington near the capitol in Olympia. She works professionally as a Marshallese interpreter and an Outreach Worker for the Washington Health Benefits Exchange. 

In a volunteer capacity she served as Co-Chair of the Pacific Islander Health Board of Washington and a member the Children’s Alliance Public Policy Council. Jiji has been a volunteer advocate for more than 13 years, working alongside her community and community-based organizations in Washington. She played a key role in the creation and the passage of the COFA Islander Health Care Program in Washington State and other state legislative campaigns to improve health equity and well-being.

Jiji Jally

wellness navigator

Kiana began working with PICA-WA in the Spring of 2020 as the Spokane lead for our PI COVID-19 Taskforce. She currently sits on the Asian & Pacific Islander Coalition (APIC) Spokane’s Advisory Committee where she also has the opportunity to collaborate on opportunities for improving civic engagement on the Spokane Coalition of Color, which also includes NAACP Spokane and the Hispanic Business Professionals Association (HBPA) of Spokane. Kiana is currently serving in her third year as a board member for YWCA Spokane, where she is involved in their Racial and Social Justice Committee and is passionate about uplifting voices of domestic violence survivors, womxn and girls of color. 

 

Kiana is experienced in communications and marketing, project management and public affairs. She graduated from Gonzaga University in 2017 where she earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations as well as minors in promotional marketing and psychology.

Kiana McKenna

PROGRAM DIRECTOR,

Eastern Washington Programs

Layla Afu was born and raised in Vancouver, WA. Her dual heritage includes her Chuukese roots through her mother and her Tongan roots through her father. She currently works as a school counselor at Fort Vancouver High School Center For International Studies. She is committed to her work in youth development, helping students and families navigate their educational journeys, and advancing the well-being of her Pasifika community. 

 

Layla Afu graduated from the University of Washington with a Political Science degree and received her M.Ed. from City University in School Based Counseling. Being raised in SW Washington, she understands the critical need of making sure NHPI communities have the support that they need to navigate well and thrive in their rural communities.

Layla Afu

PROGRAM DIRECTOR,

Southwest Washington programs

Rev. Hector Panama Pouono was born & raised in Long Beach, California. His roots are from Siumu & Falelatai (Upolu Island), Pago Pago (Tutuila Island) & Fitiuta (Manu’a Islands). He currently serves as an ordained minister for the Samoan Congregational Christian Church in Kent (Malua-Seattle EFKS). Earlier in his life, Hector went to Samoa in 2007 on a church trip & ended up living in Samoa & Fiji for 10 years by way of being a student at Malua Theological College in 2012. He moved on to get his master’s degree in Pacific History in 2014 from the Pacific Theological College in Suva, Fiji. He was a lecturer at Malua Theological College in Samoa for 4 years before being called to serve the 150 member parish in Kent, Washington in 2018. 

 

His interest in the Ministry stems from a strong desire to bridge the gap between young people and Pasifika spiritual leaders. “It is my belief that we as spiritual leaders, need to promote the ecumenical relationships between all Pasifika peoples whether here in America or in Oceania. Serving our community is part of being Christian and it is part of our identity as Pacific Islanders.” Hector serves alongside Faletua or First Lady Herema Tiatia Pouono & 2 children – Talita & Panama.

Hector Pouono

food networks coordinator

MEET OUR PICA-WA BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Jessie Ka'ahumanu Ray Coen

board co-chair

Jessie Ka’ahumanu Ray Coen hails from the island of Moloka’i, Hawai’i. After spending her childhood in foster care, away from her culture and people, Jessie reconnected with her ‘ohana at the end of her high school career. Invigorated by her return to the islands, she immediately began to realign herself with her Native Hawaiian roots. Immersion in Pasifika culture is a constant journey she is happy to be on. Jessie’s deep passion for volunteering, social justice and civil rights work contributed to her being honored with the 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. award in Snohomish County. 

 

Jessie is committed to the advancement of all Pasifika people through policy change, education, technology and entrepreneurship. Jessie is a talented Instructional Designer for one of America’s top healthcare systems, specializing in Anesthesia and Surgical software. Along with balancing the hat of business woman and activist, she is a proud mother to her two beautiful children Zimora Ka’ahumanu Mei and Lennox Fa’asaau Loi.

Hazel Herkemor Johnson

board co-chair

Hazel Kerkemor Johnson (she/her), Palauan-American, was born and raised in the island of Guam and spent significant parts of her childhood with her family in Choll (Ngaraard), Palau. A native Palauan speaker with strong Palauan values, Hazel’s passion for community service and love of nature brought her to Seattle University 18 years ago. 

 

Hazel serves her community as the Special Assault Unit (SAU) and Trial Support Paralegal for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Juvenile Division. She believes that increasing visibility of the Pacific Islander community and partnering with agencies to foster culturally-informed responses at every level is critical to the success of both. In her spare time, Hazel spends time with her extended friend-family she has built in the Pacific Northwest and her dog Quincy at their home in Federal Way.

Franky Erra

Board Secretary

Franky serves as a Exhibit Designer at Skyline Pacific Northwest. He is a former Conservation Program Officer with the Marshall Islands Conservation Society (MICS) – where he primarily focused on improving climate resiliency at the community level on the small island of Mejit, Marshall Islands. 

 

Franky is passionate about helping his Marshallese and Chuukese communities through his work on the PICA-WA board. He is a proud father to a beautiful baby girl. He is on track in securing a degree in environmental studies and is passionate about Pasifika movements to mitigate the affects of the climate crisis through Indigenous conservation practices and is committed to ending environmental racism.

Tyson Johnston

Board treasurer

Tyson Johnston attended the University of Washington studying American Indian Studies and Political Science. He held several elected and appointed leadership positions while at university including elections to the student body board of directors and student senate. Tyson has been an elected member of the Quinault Indian Nation for the past eight years. Serving four years as an elected councilperson and is currently serving in his fourth year as the Quinault Indian Nation’s Vice President. 

 

Tyson has held several leadership positions on behalf of the Quinault Business Committee, which currently include, Chairperson of the Natural Resources and Community Development sub-committee and policy lead on state legislative affairs. Tyson currently resides on the Quinault Reservation in the Village of Taholah, which houses the headquarters of the Quinault Indian Nation’s Government.

Paula Carvalho

Board Member

Paula served at The Mockingbird Society in 2014 as their Youth Network Coordinator before being promoted to Youth Programs Director in 2016. In addition to that role, she also initiated and chaired the agency’s Race Equity Committee. Paula was awarded Mockingbird Society’s ACE award, which celebrated individuals who have made a significant impact on the lives of young people and families. 

 

Paula worked at the YMCA of Greater Seattle focusing on youth transitioning out of foster care. With over a decade working in this field, Paula continues to elevate the voices of young people at decision making tables. Paula earned a master’s degree in Teaching from Seattle University, where she was also the first graduate of its Fostering Scholars program. She is now a Program Officer with the Raikes Foundation.

Taffy Johnson

Board Member

Taffy is unapologetically Fa’afafine and a trans woman of color from Sāmoa. She is a queer & trans activist and community organizer. Taffy is the founder and Executive Director of United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance (U.T.O.P.I.A. Seattle). She has worked in the movement for LGBTQ rights and equality for over 10 years. Taffy has been a resource, refuge and support to many Fa’afafine and PI individuals who are making the long trek to the Pacific Northwest in search of better opportunities. 

 

Taffy is a wonderful mother to her cat babies, Luna and Jeffry, whom she raises with her loving husband Derek Johnson. She is a part of the local Foodie Club with Joseph Seia and will travel to taste new delicious treats. When off the clock, you may also find her getting the latest nails designs at the local salon or at home catching up on a SciFi or Horror series on Netflix.

Suni Tolton

Board Member

Suni Tolton has worked in the human services field for over 20 years providing youth and family counseling, youth program management, and contract administration. She is currently the Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator for the City of Shoreline. Suni studied sociology and criminology at the University of Utah and received a Master of Social Work from the University of Washington. 

 

She has volunteered with many community-based Pacific Islander organizing efforts, including the Pacific Islander Community Association (PICA), and is interested in acculturation, health, and immigrant/refugee issues. Born in New Zealand, Suni was raised in Anchorage, Alaska, and is mother to two boys. Suni is Samoan and Chinese and holds the matai title Tiumalu from the village of Satapuala of the A’ana district on the island of Upolu.

Puakaleihua Westbrooks

Board Member

Puakailehua was born in England raised in Washington but have been residing in Hawaii for the past fifteen years. She currently works as an Administrative Assistant for the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine in the Madigan Army Medical Center. She served in the Army active duty for 8 years and did a tour in Iraq becoming a Veteran. She continues to serve in the Army Reserves as a Medical Logistician on Fort Shafter Hawaii. 

 

Pua has a BA in Business Management Administration and is currently studying for another BA in Health and Wellness. “I have always volunteered within the communities I have lived in, including the Puerto Rican and Guamanian communities. Being given the opportunity to help in diverse cultures creates an opportunity of knowledge and understanding that even though there are cultural differences, our needs as Island people remain the same.”

Address: 33710 9th Ave South, Suite 1
Federal Way 98003

Phone: 206.686.5221

Opening Hours:
Monday - Thursday 9am - 5pm