Featured Speakers

We are so grateful to these amazing advocates who shared their knowledge and passion with us at Budget Matters 2022.

Building on progress together

Joan Jones (they/her) – Event emcee
Executive Director, SEIU Washington State Council

Joan Jones is the current Executive Director of the SEIU Washington State Council. Before joining SEIU’s Washington State Council Joan was the Founder and President of the National LGBTQ Workers Center, the first Queer and Trans-focused Workers Center in the United States.  In addition to their role at the State Council, Joan is a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity at the London School of Economics and has the honor of sitting on the Board of the Washington Budget & Policy Center.  In their free time, they enjoy their many DIY home remodeling adventures with their spouse and two poodles.

Session one: The power of coalition-driven movements

Alizeh Bhojani (she/her)
Policy Counsel, OneAmerica

Alizeh was born in Karachi, Pakistan and moved to Washington State when she was ten. She is passionate about the promise and achievement of human rights, stemming partly through her own experiences as an immigrant. Alizeh received her J.D. and LL.M in Sustainable International Development from the University of Washington School of Law, and a B.A. in International Studies and French, also from the University of Washington.

Alizeh is committed to fighting for immigrant rights at the local, state, and federal level and is proud to have helped win $340 million for immigrants in Washington excluded from federal relief during the height of the COVID pandemic. Prior to joining OneAmerica, Alizeh spent almost three years working for the Center for Reproductive Rights advocating for access to assisted reproduction using a human rights lens while centering the experiences of those most impacted by infertility.

Denisse Guerrero (she/her)
Member and Policy Manager, Washington Community Alliance

Denisse Guerrero manages policy and membership for Washington Community Alliance. She grew up in central WA, graduating from East Valley in Yakima. She started her organizing work during her time at Whitworth University where she would engage students in the legislature to fight for an increase and more secure funding for post-secondary education and expanding access to other post-secondary credentials. She has been organizing with WCA in 2019 and recently became a board member for the WA Bus.

Joseph Lachman (he/him) – Session facilitator
Policy Manager, Asian Counseling and Referral Service

Joseph Lachman is a 4th/5th generation mixed race Japanese America born and raised in Seattle, and he currently works as the Policy Manager at Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS), where has been employed for the last 5 years. After graduating from Yale University with a B.A. in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health, he traveled abroad and completed advanced studies in Mandarin Chinese at National Taiwan University through the International Chinese Language Program. Currently, his goal is to make use of his language, cultural and other skills through his role at ACRS to empower underserved Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and help them build meaningful political power in solidarity with other communities of color.

Session two: Creating a statewide guaranteed basic income program

Dona Ponepinto (she/her)
President and CEO, United Way of Pierce County

Dona is currently the President and CEO for United Way of Pierce County. Dona joined UWPC in January of 2014 and brings over 30 years of experience within the United Way network and a long history of working on behalf of children and their families. She is active with United Way at both the state and national level where she has served as the chair for the United Ways of the Pacific Northwest and is a past co-chair of the Black Professionals Leadership Alliance, made up of United Way CEOs from across the country.

Since taking the reins in Pierce County, Dona led a ground-breaking three-state research project on the financial stability of families known as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), spearheaded the creation of the yearly, From Poverty to Possibilities summit, and launched the Center for Strong Families, that focuses on helping families increase their income, decrease expenses, build credit, and acquire assets. Currently, in partnership with the City of Tacoma, she and her team are leading the Guaranteed Income Demonstration project.

Dona holds a BA in Psychology and a MS Degree in Counseling with emphasis in children and families from Creighton University.  She lives in Gig Harbor with her husband Joe. 

Jennifer Bereskin (she/her)
Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska – Unangax Coast Salish – Snohomish Nation Youngest Daughter of the SeaMonster Man

Jennifer Bereskin has lived experiences with childhood poverty, systemic racism, and chronic homelessness. She is the mother to a special needs child whom gives her strength. Jennifer’s advocacy journey includes Indigenous and sovereign inherent rights, environmental protections, eliminating multi-generational poverty, housing justice, and dismantling white nationalism through anti-racist and anti-discriminatory policy reform in Washington state.

Tracy Yeung (she/her) – Session facilitator
Policy Analyst, Washington State Budget & Policy Center

Tracy is a member of the Budget & Policy Center’s research and policy team, focusing on population health in Washington state. She is working with a group of advocates to help shape a statewide guaranteed basic income program. She currently holds a State Policy Fellowship through the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ two-year national fellowship program. She was previously the 2020-2021 Betty Jane Narver Policy Fellow at the Budget & Policy Center. Tracy has also worked at the Chinese Information Service Center as a family caregiver support specialist and later as an in-home care case manager, mainly serving low-income, limited-English speaking, and elderly families.

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