Meet Our PICA-WA family
The amazing folks behind PICA-WA who work day in and day out to support the greater Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander community here in Washington.
Click on their photos to read more about each of our members!
The amazing folks behind PICA-WA who work day in and day out to support the greater Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander community here in Washington.
Click on their photos to read more about each of our members!
Malie’s passion stems from cultural upbringing in their village setting, as well as values instilled in them by their grandparents. There were always village events that required participation or contributions. They were taught about sharing with our neighbors, inviting passersby for meals or help distribute food to families in their village surroundings during any environmental or health disasters. It became a natural thing to do back home. At a young age, one becomes accustomed in giving as well as honoring everyone else in unselfish cultural practices.
Community Organizer, Community Outreach on Sexual Assault & Domestic violence. Lifelong Aids Volunteer, Pageantry Organizer for LGBT Community, Samoan Cultural Day Committee Member, Pasifika Island Fashion Show Organizer. Former Case Manager For ACRS: LTC Home care Services. Family Homeless Feeding Project. Meals On Wheels Volunteer. Born: Fagatogo, American Samoa.
Arleen Marston is a Kosraean 4th year student at the University of WA and your Pasifika Wellness Navigator. She was born and raised in Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia. She moved to Hawaii as a 9-year-old with her family for educational and job opportunities. She moved to Kent, Washington as a middle schooler and was fortunate through the grace of God to join the Husky Pack at the University of WA a few years later.
She is proud to be Pasifika because the strength and the wits her ancestors carried were so grand, and she aspires to carry the same qualities. Arleen was fortunate to be a “secondary tutor” for High school students under the Highline public school as a 3rd year in college. This work inspired her to further provide resources to the Pasifika community, who are still trying to adapt to the Western world. She recognizes the barriers in relation to societal structure that stands in the way of our social mobility, and is motivated to help her people overcome those barriers.
Clorine Joujen was born in the Marshall Islands and came to the states when she was about seven years old. She has resided in Washington state for about 12 years and graduated with the class of 2020 from Auburn High School. She will be attending college, majoring in accounting. Clorine enjoys playing volleyball and reading. She is overall a homebody but enjoys going out here and there.
She is a proud Pasifika woman because of the values of Pasifika people, most importantly the value of family. Pasifika people love to help each other in any way they can, and Clorine really loves the wide variety of unique Pasifika cultures. Her volunteer experience that shaped who she is today includes working at the food bank. Her experience there really opened her eyes to how fortunate she was to have parents that were able to support their family with food. Her gratefulness and humility inspired her to help other families in need.
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.
Rosidamu “Rosi” Bolatagici was born and raised in Nakasi, outside of Suva (capital) on the island of Fiji where her parents both worked as school teachers. She comes from a family of 5 (parents and 3 children) raised through great struggle but with parents who held a firm belief in the power of quality education. Since moving to the US, Rosi has worked as an elderly caregiver for more than 15 years and is bringing a wealth of experience in service and community support to her new role with PICA-WA. Rosi is passionate about serving her Pasifika community and about giving back to positively impact the lives of citizens from the country she was proudly raised in, Fiji. Rosi hopes to help keep our traditions going strong so that the generation of leaders after us may continue to carry our cultures far into the future.
Martina Naich is from the outer island of Chuuk-Micronesia. Growing up she moved from place to place. During her toddler years, Martina’s family moved to Guam where she lived most of her young life. After graduating high school, she went to Pohnpei State and attended the College of Micronesia-FSM earning an AS in Business Administration.
Five years later, Martina and her little family moved to Hawaii. She was in the Department of Education until their family relocated to Washington. Martina’s passion is working in community-based environments; being a part of the Pacific Islander Community Association family is an additional blessing for her.
Savelio (Nuki) Makasini was born in the United States, raised in White Center, Washington. His family is from the Kingdom of Tonga and have been in Washington since the 80’s. Nuki loves to listen to music and play sports in his spare time.
He earned his Bachelor’s of Arts degree from the University of Washington graduating with the 2020-2021 class. He is proud to be a part of a community that loves to reach out to our other PI communities to grow together. At the University of Washington, he worked as an outreach ambassador to our Pacific Islander youth encouraging them to further their education.
Atelete (Lete) Makasini’s life started in the city of Seattle, but her roots stretch back to the Kingdom of Tonga. She recently graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School and plans to further her education in hopes of attaining a degree in nursing. Lete’s leadership skills were on display during her 4-5 years with Our Future Matters and has been putting those attributes to use with the Pacific Islander Community Association of WA (PICA-WA). She is one of 5 Pasifika Wayfinder Organizers, working alongside her peers to better her community with an emphasis on our Pasifika youth.
Cedrique Ho’onakoa Derouin’s life began in South Seattle, but his roots stretch beyond the seas to the great island of Oahu, Hawaii as Kanaka ‘Oiwi. He recently graduated from Federal way high school and is now attending Highline community college but is planning to transfer to a university in hopes of obtaining his degree in communications and a minor in architect. Koa’s leadership skills began to grow his sophomore year when he became a youth leader. To this day, his leadership skills continue to develop and inspire others. He is on a mission to help and give back to his community with the help of his Pasifika community. Koa is one of 5 Pasifika Wayfinder Organizers, working alongside his amazing peers with an emphasis on our Pasifika youth.
Angela William is Chuukese from the island of Weno, but was born and raised in Washington. She was fortunate enough to be able to attend school in the states. She recently received her BS in Criminal Justice and Criminology at PSU. Angela currently works as the Pacific Islander Student Specialist for Evergreen Public Schools in Vancouver Washington and hopes to bring down the barriers our families may have within the school system. Knowing that she can help her community is what is driving her to strive for better.
Kelcy’s roots lay underneath the lands of the Marshall Islands, where she grew up around her beloved culture, before moving to the state of Washington to continue her education. Kelcy is a recent graduate out of Auburn High School’s class of 2020.
During her time at Auburn, Kelcy was the President of the Marshallese Club. She has a vision to inspire and motivate others, while respectfully advocating for a better future. One of her many goals is to be the first one in her family to graduate from a four year university with a degree. Kelcy is most excited about being able to have the opportunity to help empower her peers!
Ritae Wallace is from the Island of Chuuk State Federated States of Micronesia. She came to Hawaii in 1990 to study at Hawaii Pacific University till 1994. We moved to Germany in 2003-2008. Ritae earned her bachelor’s degree double majoring in Accounting and Business Management at the University of Maryland, Germany.
She is the founder of the First Chuukese Washington Women Association established in 2019. Since COVID started, Ritae wanted to support not only the Chuukese communities but also the whole Pasifika community. Writing grants, gathering resources and supports for our communities has fueled her passions.
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.
Keleni Tavaiqia was born and raised in Washington State, and her family comes from the island of Fiji in the village of Viseisei. Keleni recently graduated from Hazen high school; she plans to attend Bellevue College Fall 2022 to pursue a career in nursing. In the past she has volunteered at various homeless shelters. She has also been a part of the ‘aMAYzing‘ helping hands group going on a mission trip with them to Suva, Fiji to help a school for the blind, special needs school, and a women’s prison, also participating in the Pasifika FoodNetworks food distribution since 2020. A goal of Keleni’s is to help strengthen her community and help people get the help that they need.
Jayleen Topasna Salas is an indigenous CHamoru woman, currently settled on Muckleshoot and Puyallup land, otherwise known as Kent, Washington.
She graduated in May of 2020 from Pacific Lutheran University with a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and Hispanic Studies. Jayleen’s passion is proliferating the practice of her CHamoru culture for the purpose of perpetuating the beautiful and healthy components of it, for her future descendants. She has presented on the political status of Guåhan and the way in which Indigenous knowledge is and should be viewed as legitimate within the sphere of academics, higher education, and within greater society. She is currently the financial manager for the Pacific Island Community Association of Washington, and a member of the Masakåda Collective. Jayleen spends her free time cuddling with her dog, playing video games, crafting, reading, and singing with her family.
Mirius Wenda is from West Papua New Guinea Island. He came to the United States in 2016 to study at Corban University, and he graduated in 2020 with a Political Science degree. After finishing school, he worked for a year in Georgia, California, and Oregon. In late 2020, Mirius started work as the Free West Papua Campaign Coordinator in the United States and continues the work today.
In 2021, he moved to Washington state. Now, he is working at PICA-WA in Federal Way serving as the West Papua Campaign Manager to help Wellness Navigation for West Papuan siblings. This service includes legal funding assistance, giving a hand to logistics, advocacy, and raising awareness of current and historic human rights issues in West Papua. He is always proud to be a West Papuan. He loves his culture, his people, and his island way of life.
ONE PEOPLE, ONE SOUL, AND ONE DESTINY.
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.
Brandon Tacadena was born and raised on the island of Oʻahu, in the town of Mililani. Brandon has genealogical ties to Samoa, Tokelau, The Philippines, and various parts of Europe. Raised in a faith rooted household and fortified by the prayers of a resilient single mother, Brandon discerned a vocational call early in his life. He pursued that call—earning a B.A. in Bible and Christian Ministries from Pacific Rim Christian University and an M.Div., in Systematic Theology and Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. His interests explore the intersections of Pasifika identity and indigeneity, theology, decoloniality, and spiritual fluidity.
Brandon is committed to the work of liberation of Pasifika peoples from systems of domination, extraction, and dehumanization. His background includes social justice advocacy, organizing, hospital chaplaincy, and diversity, equity, and inclusion work in higher education. Brandon is also an associate educator for the digital platform Talanoa as well as a co-host of the podcast Solwata Kin. In his spare time, Brandon gardens, enjoys talking story with folxs, and loves sharing meals.
Waisale Serevi was born and raised in Suva, Fiji Islands. Investing much of his life to the sport of rugby, he believes God gifted him the talent to be a rugby player. He played in 7 Rugby World Cups and won 2 Rugby World Cups as a captain for Fiji. It was an honor and privilege for him to be awarded the Honorary Doctorate Sports Science at Leeds Met University in England in 2008 and to be inducted into the Rugby Hall of Fame 2013.
Waisale is proud to be Pasifika because Pasifika people have their own identity and culture. He recently joined PICAWA and is excited about helping the Pasifika community of the Pacific Northwest. His vision and goal for the Pasifika community is to help one another and uplift our voice in the USA.
Britney Jae Lujan Kingsbury is a CHamoru woman born on Guåhan, from the village of Dededo. She grew up in Federal Way, Washington but now resides on Coast Salish lands in the Tacoma area. She earned her Bachelors degree in Communications at the University of Washington – Seattle. There, her passion for community and cultural work came alive as she took part in volunteering with the Pacific Islander Student Commission and later becoming an officer for the UW Micronesian Islands Club, while also working at the university’s Ethnic Cultural Center.
These experiences along with her membership in the Tacoma-based Chamorro dance group Guma’ Imåhe have pushed her to pursue and commit to work of advocacy, organizing, empowerment and overall support of our indigenous mañe’lu. Britney is also a lover of learning, art, video games, reading and spending time with her loved ones.
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.
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.
Kiana began working with PICA-WA in the Spring of 2020 as the lead for the Eastern WA NH/PI COVID-19 Response Taskforce and currently serves as the Director of Policy and Civic Engagement. In addition to organizing with Pasifika communities, Kiana sits on the Asian and Pacific Islander Coalition (APIC) Spokane’s Advisory Committee where she participates in cross-racial organizing and collaborates on opportunities for improving civic engagement on the Spokane Coalition of Color. Kiana is currently serving in her fifth 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. She also sits on Providence Health Care’s Community Mission Board for Spokane and Stevens Counties.
Born and raised in Spokane, Kiana graduated from Gonzaga University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations as well as minors in promotional marketing and psychology. Outside of work, you can find Kiana in community or with her family, which includes her two-year-old rescue pup, or outdoors, no matter the weather. She is proud to carry the torch forward and honor her ancestors in advocating fiercely for the wellness and thriving of her community.
Joseph Seia, a proud fa’afafine tama (all pronouns), was born in LA, moved with his ‘āiga to Sāmoa-nalua and emigrated to Coast Salish Territory in 1994. He has 15 years of experience in direct service, youth development work, and nonprofit leadership & administration. Joseph champions systems change work the centers the leadership and history of most impacted communities to enact social change through coalition building, anti-racism organizing, and creating inter-generational leadership opportunities to co-design Beloved Community.
He labors against the political erasure of Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander (NH/PI) communities in data and policy by re-envisioning what it means for Pasifikans to feel cultural belonging in the U.S. Diaspora. Joseph serves as the Co-Executive Director of the National Association of Pasifika Organizations (NAOPO), the first national NH/PI organization convened by NH/PI leaders across the country to advance Pasifika sovereignty in policy, health, data & research, media and communications. He also currently serves as the Executive Director of PICA-WA, an organization he found to provide a cultural hub and a center of service and advocacy for Pasifika peoples in Washington.
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 serves as an 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 effects of the climate crisis through Indigenous conservation practices and is committed to ending environmental racism.
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 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 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 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.
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.”