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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Britney is a CHamoru/Chamorro woman born on Guam, from the village of Dededo. She grew up in Federal Way, Washington and earned her Bachelors degree in Communications at the University of Washington. There, she found her passion for community and cultural work focusing on advocacy, empowerment and overall support of our indigenous Pasifik folks.
Britney is also a member of Guma’ Imåhe, a CHamoru dance group based in Tacoma, Washington which serves to preserve and perpetuate the Chamorro culture for the past, present and future.
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.
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.
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.
Eric Bass was born on the island of New Georgia, in the Solomon Islands; and grew up in both Lae and Mendi, in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. He has lived in 16 nations and has set foot on all seven continents (Antarctica is his favourite). Eric is an international award-winning visual artist and a published author. Eric is proud to be Pasifika, because when he travels the world, everyone knows of Pasifika people, and respects them for both who and what they are. Eric is confident that the tenacity and fierce demeanour of Pasifika people are known to the world as the hallmark of strength and reliance. Pasifika athletes are among the top performers in any sport and any league partaken in.
The experience that did the most to shape Eric Bass today was his experience working as a correctional officer in Arizona. He was fortunate enough to work at a facility that housed Pacific Island inmates from both the Tongan and Samoan communities. He spoke and interacted with men who made mistakes, went down the wrong path, and wanted another way to live when they were to be released. He saw with his own eyes, how Pasifika communities were hit hard by crime and low access to economic resources. Eric decided then and there that he must do something to help our communities be better.
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.
My name is Arleen Marston, and I am a Kosraean 4th year student at the University of WA and your Pasifika Wellness Navigator. I was born and raised in Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia. I moved to Hawaii as a 9-year-old with my family for educational and job opportunities. I 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. I am proud to be Pasifika because the strength and the wits my ancestors carried were so grand, and I aspire to carry the same qualities. I 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 me to further provide resources to my Pasifika community, who are still trying to adapt to the Western world. I recognize the barriers in relation to societal structure that stands in the way of our social mobility, and I am motivated to help my 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.
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.
Calson Tommy Tiweyang was born and raised in the PNW, but his roots lay in the lands of Uman (island in Chuuk) and Ifalik (outer island of Yap). He was the Senior Class President at Federal Way High School, and is now currently attending Eastern Washington University, working towards majoring in Communication Studies. He has spent the past 9 months deepening his connection with his Pasifika community, while working alongside the Pacific Islander Community Association (PICA). Calson now works as a Pasifika Wayfinders organizer with a mission to empower the Pasifika youth and advocate for a strong foundation for future generations.
JR Kiona is one of your Pasifika Way Finders here at the Pacific Islander Community Association in Washington. He is from the Marshall Islands and was born and raised in Majuro. To further his education, he moved to Washington in 2014. In 2020, he graduated from Timberline High-school in Lacey, Washington. He is continuing his education by majoring in criminal justice Fall 2021. One of his biggest goals in life is to build a better community for oncoming generations.
Cedrique Ho’onakoa Derouin 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.
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.
Destinee Harris is an early graduate out of Edmonds Woodway High School. Her bloodline comes up from the waters of Fiji, laying upon the villages of Beqa and Kadavu. Destinee seeks to tighten her relationships within our growing Pasifika community. She has dedicated 10 years of her life to the North Queens Drill team, spending the past 5 years as captain of the team. She now works as a Pasifika Wayfinders organizer, with intentions to help lead the Pasifika youth, like she did her drill team. She plans to further her wrestling career while attending Central Washington University.
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 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 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.”