Lab Leaders

The People’s Economy Lab is made up of organizers, thinkers, and do-ers that are creating a community-centered economy in Seattle.

Beto Yarce

Beto Yarce

Ventures

Executive Director
Pronouns: he/him

Beto has worked at Ventures, where he started the Latino Business Program, for seven years. Prior to Ventures, Beto founded and owned Cintli, a Seattle-based Mexican art and retail store at Pike Place Market. These experiences give him unique insight into the challenges faced by aspiring entrepreneurs as they work to increase their financial self-sufficiency through small business ownership. Beto received a degree in International Business from the Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO) in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and a certificate in Non-profit/Public/Organizational Management from the University of Washington. Beto received the Small Business Administration (SBA) Director Excellence Award in 2016.

Christine Hanna

Christine Hanna

YES! Media

Executive Director
Pronouns: she/her

For years, Christine has dreamed of working alongside a diverse group of dynamic leaders with a bold vision for a local economy that works for everyone. In 2016, while co-director of Seattle Good Business Network, she helped form the People’s Economy Lab. She is currently executive director at YES! Media (yesmagazine.org), publisher of reader-supported solutions journalism for people building a better world. Christine has an extensive career in non-profit management, marketing, and strategic development, and a deep commitment to advancing just and sustainable local economies. After receiving her MBA from the University of Washington, she spent several years working with online marketing companies. In 2002 she joined sustainability think tank Sightline Institute as managing director. In 2010, she co-founded Seattle Good Business Network, where she developed programs supporting, promoting, and connecting hundreds of local businesses. Christine is a BALLE Local Economies Fellow, and served on the City of Seattle’s Economic Development Commission

Debbie Wege

Debbie Wege

BECU

Debbie Wege is BECU’s cooperative community advocate, helping drive cooperative principles inside Washington’s largest credit union and across the industry. Debbie has more than 35 years of experience in the credit union movement and understands the unique purpose that the cooperative credit union structure has in serving its communities and members. During her time at BECU, she has also helped develop and implement strategies for community giving, philanthropic and financial education programs, and leadership, diversity and employee training programs. She also served as the executive director of the BECU Foundation for more than 13 years.

Since 1993, Debbie has served as a certified Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE) through the National Credit Union Foundation, as well as earning a Caribbean CUDE and International CUDE designation. She also currently sits on the CUDE Advisory Committee of the National Credit Union Foundation Board.

Debbie also brings experience in non-profit leadership and program development and support, and currently serves as board vice chair for Express Advantage, non-profit, social justice organization committed to increasing wealth building opportunities for underrepresented and underserved populations.

Deric Gruen

Deric Gruen

People's Economy Lab Program Manager

Pronouns: he/him

Deric supported Christine Hanna in developing the Lab and is now the project manager. He works at the intersection of equity, environment, and community and economic development for organizations that have included Front and Centered, Rethinking Prosperity, the Sightline Institute, Bellevue College and Trade Development Alliance. He is also on the board of the Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative and contributes to work groups of the the New Economy Coalition and FutureEarth Systems of Sustainable Consumption and Production Knowledge Action Network.

Contact email: deric@peopleseconomylab.org

Erin Nelson

Erin Nelson

Seattle Good Business Network

Executive Director

Erin joined Seattle Good Business Network as co-director in 2012. Passionate about sustainability and community development, previous roles run the gamut from producing green events and fundraisers to Peace Corp service in the Philippines; and from academia to US Senate legislative staff. She holds a BA in Political Science from UC San Diego, an MSW from UC Berkeley, is ABD, PhD in Cultural Anthropology. Erin heads up our Sewn-Goods Revitalization project, our emergent Community Capital program area, Green Business Outreach, and Champion Membership.

Contact email: erin@seattlenetwork.org

Patrice Thomas

Patrice Thomas

Rainier Beach Action Coalition

Participant

Patrice is a second generation Washingtonian, who’s Grandparents moved her from Louisiana and Michigan on her Mother & Fathers side. She is an Auntie of 2, eldest of 5 children, and enjoys watching the PJ’s on Saturday mornings. She is currently the strategist for Rainier Beach Action Coalition and was professionally raised in South Seattle where she has been doing cross sector work in the realm of helping marginalized communities have access to, maintain or achieve the highest quality of life in their own right.

Ryan Quigtar

Ryan Quigtar

University of Washington

Community Partner Liaison

Currently working at the University of Washington, Ryan has spent most of his career working towards economic mobility and community building in Skyway and South King County. His current position allows him to work with a number of community partners to build partnerships, harnessing the power of an anchor institution, such as UW. With Equity always in mind, Ryan is interested in how to improve the lives of black and brown families and other marginalized communities

Rachel Maxwell

Rachel Maxwell

Pronouns: she/her

Rachel Maxwell, works to create real value and a thriving economy through connecting people, community and money. She co-founded Community Sourced Capital, an organization committed to community-based finance five years ago. For three years CSC’s lending platform gave people a lived-experience of how their money could create real value. It involved over 6000 people in building zero-interest loans for 100 businesses they knew and loved. Rachel believes money and value are not necessarily equivalent and that CSC made that manifest by providing community returns on investment. She knows we can do more together to create value for everyone. Rachel shared her thoughts on how we create value in our lives and our communities by doing things together in her TEDx talk. She holds an MBA in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University.

Sam Farrazaino

Sam Farrazaino

Equinox Studios

Founder
Pronouns: he/him

Sam founded and manages Equinox Studios in Sunny West Georgetown, a complex of over 125 Artists and Artisans working in metal, wood, glass, ceramics, music, movies, dance, painting and a whole lot more. Equinox is 100% tenant owned and owned by 100% of the tenants and is dedicated to creating and preserving affordable space for the arts and small business in the City of Seattle. Sam has developed over 300,000 square feet of artist space across the country, with a mission to partner with public and private entities to facilitate the creation and preservation of affordable arts and cultural spaces, and to support the communities that sustain those spaces.

Contact email: sam@equinoxunlimited.com

Sarah Valenta

Sarah Valenta

Homesight

Sarah Valenta has been a volunteer community organizer in the Rainier Valley since 1999 and has been employed as an organizer by HomeSight since 2007. She has supported the creation of grass-roots organizations and helped to build capacity i several community based groups. Sarah has facilitated beautification and infrastructure improvement projects and helped to organize, fundraise and implement dozens of community connection activities, including business promotions that support small independently owned businesses to thrive in place and park improvement projects that reflect the diverse cultural history of the neighborhood. Sarah is currently the Community and Business Development Manager for HomeSight’s Community Development department. She oversees the Rainier Valley Communities of Opportunity and Ready to Work South programs. Sarah directly manages community and economic development efforts in SE Seattle to ensure that Othello is a vibrant and welcoming multicultural community where businesses, residents, and visitors gather, explore, connect, and grow. Honoring a rich immigrant history and fostering an inclusive community generates innovative and equitable opportunities for current residents and businesses, as well as newcomers.

Shevanthi Daniel-Rabkin

Shevanthi Daniel-Rabkin

Democracy at Work

Director of Cooperative Conversions

Shevanthi (Shev) is passionate about the intersection of sustainable business and economic development. Her work spans over fifteen years in community and labor organizing, and strategic capacity building with nonprofit and small businesses. She previously served as Lead Manager of Worker Cooperative Initiative at Pinchot University – Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship, and also helped develop a Cooperative Management Certificate program at Pinchot University. Shevanthi has managed and implemented large-scale labor organizing and worker justice campaigns with SEIU1199 NW, and programs centered on civil rights and social justice leadership, in rural and urban centers across the country, as well as solidarity work in South Africa, Nicaragua and Ethiopia. Shevanthi is also a co-founder of the O’Dell Education Center, a nonviolence direct action and leadership academy in Washington State, owned and operated by the Institute for Community Leadership. She is also Executive Board member at the Center for Women in Democracy, strengthening women’s capacity and leadership in public and private sector. Shevanthi has an MBA in Sustainable Business from Pinchot University and BA in History and Anthropology from University of Washington.

Contact email: sdaniel@institute.coop | Phone: (415) 379-9201 Ext. 11

Will Von-Geldern

Will Von-Geldern

Ventures

Director of Advocacy and Communications
Pronouns: he/him

Will is Director of Advocacy and Communications at Ventures, a nonprofit that helps low-income entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Ventures supports the People’s Economy Lab’s vision of an inclusive, diverse local economy by providing coaching, incubation, financing, and advocacy for entrepreneurs with limited resources through the Puget Sound region. Prior to Ventures, Will held various roles in public policy and advocacy while completing his MPA at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He first became involved with microenterprise development as an IDEX Global Fellow in Hyderabad, India.

Former Lab Leaders

Victoria Santos

Victoria Santos

Young Women Empowered

Co-Director

Victoria’s commitment to social justice, racial equity and compassionate service has expressed itself in many forms over the past 30 years, including non-profit leadership, consulting, sustainable development and community organizing projects in the U.S. and internationally. Victoria’s far-reaching vision of human potential consistently centers people of the African Diaspora. Authentic presence, compassionate communication, commitment to social justice and racial equity, and lifelong learning are threads running through all of Victoria’s work.

Contact email: Victoria@y-we.org

Mo!

Mo!

Got Green

Young Leaders Organizer
Pronouns: Any

Mo! was a youth organizer who started her social justice journey at the age of 12, volunteering with an advocacy organization that worked on issues of reproductive justice. Mo! has been engaging in community organizing and activism for over 20 years. She believes in the power of prioritizing social justice work and improving relationship skills to create a more equitable world. Prior to joining Got Green she spent 2 1/2 years in the manufacturing sector and hopes that her experiences there and her work in this position will combine like a social justice transformer – enabling herself and others to imagine and create fulfilling and fair jobs. Outside of work she is in a POC Seattle dance punk band, My Parade.

Kristin Pula

Kristin Pula

Homesight

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