Meet the Collaborators


John Helmiere

Partnership: co-founder; story-keeper; anchor partner; board member
Organization: Valley & Mountain Fellowship

Rev. John Helmiere is a co-founder of the Hillman City Collaboratory and is active with many local non-profits and social movements working on racial, economic, and social justice. John is also Valley & Mountain‘s convener, lead pastor, and Minister of Listening.  He loves hiking, traveling, and eating weird foods, but most of all loves to eat the many combinations of bread and cheese devised by the human mind.


Benjamin Hunter

Partnership: co-founder; anchor partner; board member
Organization: Community Arts Create  

Ben is violinist, storyteller, educator and community enterpriser who tours with his band mate Joe Seamons. Dedicated to exploring the intersection between art, community, and a rapidly evolving clash of culture, Ben founded Community Arts Create, a non-profit which provides opportunities for people to engage with their individual and collective creative identities as a lens to view their connection with social justice. Ben’s ultimate wish is to inspire a Collaboratory in every underserved community in the nation, showcasing the collective might of community members defying precarious economic circumstances through creativity, engagement, and dialogue.

Tiana Powell 

Partnership: anchor partner intern
Organization: Valley & Mountain

Bio coming soon!

Neal Sharpe

Partnership: anchor partner–Valley & Mountain; storykeeper of Ravenna Collab; board member
Organization: Valley & Mountain Ravenna Collab

Neal is co-pastor of Valley & Mountain and convener of the Valley & Mountain Ravenna community.  He also is the founder and storykeeper of the Ravenna Collaboratory, the second iteration of the Collaboratory network which is focused on incubating social change through creativity.


Joseph Paul Seamons

Partnership: anchor partner, event partner
Organization: Community Arts Create

Joe is a musician, teacher and activist born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. His mission, through the Rapsody Project, his activism, and his artistry, is to tell lost stories while celebrating the power of art to effect progress for humans.


Carol Rashawnna Williams

Partnership: anchor partner
Organization: Community Arts Create 

Carol R Williams is a Professional Seattle artist of more than 20 years and became the Co-Executive Director of Community Arts Create in 2018. She has been an advocate for Race and Climate Justice in the Seattle area for more than 10 years. As the 2018 Conductive Garboil Recipient award winning artist, she believes in pushing the boundaries between how we define western art. Her work is in collections at the City of Seattle and various homes throughout the Northwest. Currently, Carol is affiliated with Bridge Builders, ARTifACTS art collective and Race & Climate Justice Group.


Alouise Urness

Partnership: anchor partner
Organization: Wasat Muslim Community

Alouise is the founding director of Wasat, a Muslim community organization. When not creating space for exploring the American Muslim experience at the Collab and beyond, Alouise can be found writing, reading, milking goats, and drumming. But her best days always involve a clipboard.


Eugene Burns

Partnership: volunteer
Organization: Seattle Catholic Worker

Eugene has volunteered at the drop-in center with Victor Straube since 2009. Additionally, he coordinates gardening at the Collab. Eugene is originally from Mobile, Alabama.

Victor Straube

Partnership: Collab staff; volunteer; board member
Organization: Seattle Catholic Workers

Victor has been a drop-in center organizer and event staffer for Seattle Catholic Workers many years. He also represents people for community engagement for 2015 from Seattle City Hall and works in charity.


Mike Beebe

Partnership: coworking partner
Organization: Leadership for Change

Mike and his colleagues offer trainings, coaching, facilitating and consulting services to support individuals, groups and organizations in their work to create a more just world.


Aaron Burkhalter

Partnership: coworking partner
Organization: South Seattle Emerald

Aaron is the interim managing editor of the South Seattle Emerald. He has 14 years of experience in journaling including as a writer and editor at Real Change News.


Mike Denton 

Partnership: coworking partner
Organization: Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ

Mike has lived in Seattle for a little more than 11 years and is married to another co-worker, Lauren Cannon. They have a six-year old son who you’ll see running around once in awhile. He works with approximately 80 United Church of Christ churches in Washington State, North Idaho and Alaska.


Frederica Helmiere 

Partnership: coworker
Organization: United Religions Initiative

Frederica serves on the global staff of the United Religions Initiative. URI is a worldwide interfaith network dedicated to peace and cooperative action for the global good. Its purpose is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, stop religiously motivated violence, and create cultures of peace, justice, and healing for the Earth and all living beings. She is also an active volunteer with Valley & Mountain. 


Javan and Annette Jones 

Partnership: coworking partner
Organization: Jones Community Solutions

Javan and Annette (not pictured) Jones are the owners of Jones Community Solutions. They have been part of the Hillman City Collaboratory since January 2013. They focus on hospitality and help with the drop-in center. They’ve distributed cell phones, clothes, and food and have dealt with many issues involving homeless in the community. They deal with the direct-to-consumer approach; right here, right now from the bottom up. Annette attends and does work with Valley & Mountain and his daughter Tiffani started a choir with them and is on the board. Javan and his wife are also trainers for WA State for Peer Counseling.


Violet Lavatai

Partnership: recurring event host
Organization: Tenants Union of Washington

Violet is the director of the Tenants Union of Washington, an organization that has been a Collab partner for many years. Members of the Union are excited to be part of a great family here and will make sure to utilize this space. Violet believes this space should always be available to the community and is grateful for the partnership.


Micheal Lentz

Partnership: coworking partner
Organization: twig & Beam

Micheal designs buildings that make people happy. Micheal is a 2001 graduate of the University of Washington’s School of Architecture, studying both in Seattle and abroad at Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule in Aachen, Germany.


Lee Ngo

Partnership: coworking partner
Organization: Greater Foundation

Lee Ngo is the Chief Operating Office of the Greater Foundation, a tech inclusion nonprofit that creates educational programs in leadership, technology, and entrepreneurship for Seattle’s under-served youth community.  Prior to that, he worked to build educational communities for Galvanize and Metis, a Kaplan company. Lee is passionate about inclusivity and storytelling, especially in the world of film-making.


Anessa Novasio

Partnership: coworking partner
Organization: Sliding Scale Law

Anessa, Attorney at Law PLLC, is a proud graduate of the City University of New York School of Law. Sliding Scale Law is a reflection of her dedication to her CUNY Law School’s mission of “law in the service of human needs”. Anessa seeks to meet the civil legal needs of ordinary folks by by offering sliding scale fee arrangements and through active participation in various pro bono and volunteer programs such as Northwest Immigrants’ Rights Project, El Centro de la Raza Legal Clinic, and King County Volunteer Legal Services.


Burke Stansbury 

Partnership: coworking partner
Organization: Social Justice Fund Northwest

Burke Stansbury is the Development Director of the Social Justice Fund NW. He has an office but still likes to work at the Collab a couple times a month.

Burke got involved in community organizing after spending time living in Mexico and Central America during college. He was the executive director of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) for 5 years and more recently worked with the Center for Community Change as a national campaign organizer. He is currently the boards of Got Green and the Institute for Policy Studies. Burke lives in Seattle with his partner Krista, their son Lucas and daughter Ida.


Julian Herrera

Partnership: volunteer

Julian fixes things!

Board Member

Mari Kim, PHD

Partnership: board member

Mari is a lover of the Collab community who believes in diversity, equity and inclusion…really. She is an advocate of all good things!

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