Executive Director, CHOICES Education Group | Board member since 1993
Leo Muller is Executive Director of CHOICES Education Group, provider of the nationally distributed CHOICES stay-in-school workshop for middle and high school students. Leo has 31 years of nonprofit social enterprise leadership experience developing and executing cause-marketing relationships, business-education partnerships and volunteerism programs with Fortune 500 companies, chambers of commerce, service clubs and school systems. As Executive Director of CHOICES Education Group since 1996, Leo has also fulfilled fundraising responsibilities for CHOICES, with a primary focus on program development, fund development and community development. Leo is a coach and judge for the Seattle Pacific University Social Venture Plan Competition, and a national conference speaker and panelist. He is an active member of the Lake Union Rotary Club, and has served as a member of the Nordstrom Scholarship Selection Committee and has been on the Board of the Children’s Music Foundation, the Washington Association of Partners in Education, the National Alliance of Business Task Force on Teacher Quality, the Washington State Partnership for Family Involvement in Education and the Alliance for Education School-To-Work Community Planning Group. Leo holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business from Seattle Pacific University. He is married and has two adult children that both attended Seattle Public Schools.
Board of Directors
Product Manager, Artificial Intelligence and Research, Microsoft | Board member since 2017
Donald Brinkman is a product manager for Microsoft AI & Research, here he drives the development of various conversational intelligence and chatbot-related products and technologies. Over the last ten years he has held a variety of roles at Microsoft, primarily focused on natural language processing, game design, and AI. In 2013 his project ChronoZoom, an infinitely-scaling and interactive HTML5 representation of the history of Everything, was awarded the top educational resource award at South by Southwest. In his role as research program manager of Games for Learning and Digital Humanities at Microsoft Research, he helped to fund and design the CHOICES Challenge cellphone game.
CPA, Executive Director, Internal Audit, University of Washington | Board member since 2008
Richard Cordova is the Executive Director of Internal Audit at the University of Washington. His role also includes audit responsibility for the University of Washington Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center. Previous to the University, Richard served as Director, Internal Audit for Starbucks Coffee Company, leading a team of 12 professionals in execution of the approved Internal Audit Plan there. His prior experience also includes a 24-year career at Pricewater-houseCoopers, and spans a wide range of responsibilities, including internal audit, business assurance & advisory practice, senior audit manager and senior accountant. Cordova holds a bachelor of science in biology from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA in accounting and finance from the University of California Graduate School of Management in Irvine, CA. He is a licensed CPA in California and Washington. Cordova was a Seattle Chairman’s Award Winner in 2007 and Coach of the Year PwC West Region in 2002.
Vice President, Compliance Officer, F5 Networks | Board member since 2016
Aileen Cronin is Vice President, Compliance Officer for F5 Networks, a firm specializing in application delivery networking (ADN) technology that optimizes the delivery of network-based applications and the security, performance, availability of servers, data storage devices, and other network resources. Prior to F5 Networks, Aileen was with Alaska Airlines for 18 years, most recently as Associate General Counsel and Managing Director of Information Management & Compliance. She was the legal advisor and led the strategic growth and development of the data privacy, enterprise records and compliance programs for AAG. During her career at Alaska, Aileen also led the environmental affairs and sustainability programs, along with Senior Attorney responsibilities for Regulatory & Commercial Law and Employment & Labor Law. Prior to Alaska Airlines, Aileen was Assistant Attorney General at Washington State Attorney General’s Office, assigned to the Labor & Industries Division. While there, she practiced in the areas of wage & hour and worker’s compensation. Aileen previously spent two years as the In-house Labor Counsel with the Washington State Nurses Association. Aileen earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and Political Science from UC San Diego, and her Doctor of Law from Gonzaga University School of Law. She is an advocate for education by serving on the St. Francis of Assisi School Parent Commission and formerly on the Highline Schools Foundation. She recently was selected and served on the City of Seattle Privacy Advisory Council as thought leader for the Advisory Committee on data privacy. Her memberships include the Washington State Bar Association, Association of Corporate Counsel, American Bar Association Air & Space Forum, International Association of Privacy Professionals and Association of Records Managers & Administrators.
Managing Director of Culture, Learning & Inclusion, Alaska Airlines | Board member since 2016
Tiffany DeHaan is Managing Director of Culture, Learning & Inclusion at Alaska Airlines. Prior to this role she was Senior Associate in the Organizational Effectiveness practice at Point B. Tiffany has over 16 years of experience leading strategic business and information technology initiatives to improve business results for clients in a variety of sectors including non-profit, healthcare, insurance, software and travel. Tiffany is a results driven, strategic thinker and innovative leader. Her focus areas include project and program management, communication, change management, business readiness, process and operations improvement, and facilitation. Tiffany holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree (magna cum laude) in Business Administration – Management Information Systems from Oregon State University. Tiffany has a deep interest in supporting efforts focused around children and education. She has volunteered at several nonprofits including Program for Early Parent Support (PEPS), Junior Achievement (JA), Eastside Baby Corner, WithinReach and CHOICES. Tiffany is married with two sons and enjoys spending time with her family and being active.
Co-Founder & CEO, Project Bionic | Board member since 2018
Josh Dirks is Co-Founder and CEO of Project Bionic, where he has pioneered and executed the “Listen, Create, Transform” process for such diverse clients as Nalgene, MidAmerican Energy, glassybaby, Amazon, Almond Roca, Taco Time NW, and many other organizations interested in activating an inspired community to support their brand. Josh believes social media must be more strategic and scientific, rather than the nailing Jell-O to a tree approach that is so often the norm today. Josh’s unique perspective comes from his extensive experience in both business management and new media. He served in a variety of marketing leadership positions for one of the largest radio groups in the US, Entercom. While a partner at Pin Point Marketing, Josh led created of a proprietary approach to web development and SEO that garnered several national awards for the agency. He also understands the client perspective, having establishing sales records as National Sales Manager for Door to Door Moving and Storage. Josh is a husband, father, geek at heart and new media thought-leader who’s right on the cusp of GenX and Millennials. Josh is wise beyond his years – and his facial hair.
Attorney, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt | Board member since 2011
Bert Markovich has tried over 100 cases through verdict, and has won more than 90 percent of the cases that he has tried. He has focused his practice on the defense of maritime claims, complex litigation (including class action and mass tort litigation), and the defense of claims involving product liability. Bert also represents insurance carriers in coverage work and bad faith litigation as well as Northwest commercial vessel interests, a large tanker operator, and numerous marine underwriters. He represents several manufacturers in product liability litigation including: Atlas Copco, Bayer, Nacco, and Merck. Much of the product liability work that he does involves the pharmaceutical industry. He also has extensive experience in professional liability litigation. Bert represents clients in federal and state courts in Alaska, Washington and Oregon. Bert has been recognized as a Washington Super Lawyer, which is an annual listing of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement and he is rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell, its highest acknowledgement for legal ability and ethics. Bert holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from Montana State University, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Oregon School of Law. He is a member of the Oregon State Bar Association, the Washington State Bar Association, and the King County Bar Association, and has given numerous speeches and presentations on trial practice, maritime law, products liability, and complex litigation. Bert is a former middle school teacher, and has coached youth sports for many years.
Principal, Sappington | Board member since 2017
Erika Schmidt, APR, is a principal at Sappington, a Seattle-based agency that empowers ambitious leaders by giving them the confidence and tools they need to advance technology, business, and culture in today’s established companies. She is Sappington’s evangelist, client service champion, and communication expert. She is responsible for minding the brand, spreading the word, and attracting great companies to work with Sappington. In her role as communication counselor, she resolves clients’ internal and external communication challenges that result from significant organizational changes. Erika is a highly skilled in guiding company leaders to success through communication strategies that break down the traditional barriers which often divide groups. For more than two decades, she has provided consulting services to company leadership across multiple industries, including architecture, construction, insurance, legal services, environmental, manufacturing, hospitality, and professional services. A change-embracer and a change-maker, her 20+ years of award-winning communication and coaching experience are invaluable for mid-market leaders facing company-wide technology and business transition and cultural shifts.
Engineering Manager, Google | Board member since 2011
Amar Srinivasan is an engineering manager at Google. Previous to Google, Amar was a senior software engineer at San Francisco mobile startup Layer. Prior to Layer, Amar worked on the email team for the Windows Phone at Micro-soft, designing and developing email and text-messaging applications. Upon first joining Microsoft he worked for the Internet Explorer team. Prior to Microsoft, Amar worked for the Center for Advanced Imaging for West Virginia University, where he designed and developed computer control systems and user interfaces for medical devices used in detecting cancer. Amar was part of Microsoft’s Seattle Works Day organizing committee, which organizes an event that draws 300 volunteer participants annually. He also served as lead and volunteer for projects that involve helping local organizations such as schools and parks. Amar teaches climbing courses as a volunteer instructor, and also leads climbing and other outdoor activities. Amar holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science and Engineering from SRM Engineering College, University of Madras, India, and a Master of Science in Computer Science from West Virginia University, where he also served as School Student President, Class President, and as lead and member for various committees, and organized and managed large cultural and technical events, trips and seminars. Amar enjoys alpine climbing, travel, running, volunteering and programming.
Project Manager, AWS, Amazon | Board member since 2018
Lizzy Steere is a Product Manager at Amazon Web Services, where she drives optimization for large-scale initiatives which effect enterprise customers. There she works closely with her technical team to designs solutions which support the operationalization of AWS services. Prior to AWS, Lizzy worked at PwC in financial audit and risk & compliance consulting, with a focus on anti-corruption and anti-bribery (ABAC) law. Lizzy holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting and a Master of Accountancy from Washington State University. She also studied Business Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her work has served the technology, retail, utilities, financial services, and health industries. She enjoys coaching, mentoring, team building and devoting time to serve her community through several organizations. She is a driven and passionate individual with a competitive energy. Her consistent involvement with competitive sports, philanthropy and education throughout life has given her a dynamic spirit that openly invites new experiences and challenges.
Senior Vice President, Regional Director, Bank of America | Board member since 2016
Carsten Stehr is the Pacific Region Director for Bank of America’s Real Estate Services Division, overseeing a portfolio of bank occupied retail and administrative properties with more than 10 million square feet across nine western states. His responsibilities include oversight of the implementation of real estate strategies in support of Line of Business and enterprise goals, financial oversight of $400 million in operating expenses, and governance and control over the Integrated Facility Management services provided by outsourced Facility Partners. Carsten is a graduate of United Way’s Leadership Tomorrow, class of 2004. He has supported community outreach organizations dating back to his senior year at Oregon State University where he volunteered at the local United Way Community Outreach Center with the Crisis Line. Carsten has devoted his volunteer time supporting CHOICES Education Group, Habitat for Humanity, NW Harvest and Boys and Girls Club. Carsten is married and is a father to two daughters. He enjoys hiking, biking and spending time with his family.
Senior Manager of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Programs, Starbucks | Board member since 2019
James Thomas serves as Senior Manager of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Programs at Starbucks, where he supports the company’s U.S. retail business, including more than 17,000 stores and 187,000 employees. He is charged with helping to operationalize and implement the company’s inclusion and diversity strategies throughout the retail business to create a more inclusive environment for both customers and employees. James is a two-and-a-half-year Starbucks employee and has also been a District Manager, supporting a portfolio of stores in the Seattle market. Prior to Starbucks, James spent 20 years at Nordstrom in multiple roles that included being a Store Manager for both the Rack and Full Line division and ten years in the diversity and inclusion division, five leading the company program. James is a Cornell University certified diversity professional and has his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and a graduate degree in Legal Studies from Arizona State University. He has served on a number of nonprofit boards that include Seattle Goodwill, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound and CHOICES Education Group. In his spare time, he enjoys playing tennis, hiking and riding his motorcycle. He also remains quite busy chasing his triplet boys at home.
EMERITUS BOARD MEMBERS
Founding Director, CHOICES Education Group | Board member since 1985
Jim Elias has been on the board of CHOICES Education Group since the organization’s inception. Prior to his retirement he was Executive Director of Technology Assessment for U S WEST Communications. Previous positions with U S WEST included roles in marketing, public relations, construction, customer service and corporate resource management. Elias has also worked extensively with the Human Interface Technology Laboratory at the University of Washington on applications of Virtual Reality for education. He speaks internationally on the future of technology, serves on several boards of community organizations, and has managed a successful U.S. Senate campaign.
Investor | Board member since 2009
Mike Repass is an investor who has owned and managed apartment buildings and other real estate and financial investments for more than 35 years in Seattle. He also worked for the U.S. Department of Labor for seven years evaluating employment and training programs in New England and the Pacific Northwest. Mike was a Vista (Volunteers in Service to America) Volunteer in south Georgia and a Vista Supervisor in the Appalachian Mountains of Georgia in the late 1960’s. He has a BA in Business from the University of Washington and a MA in Industrial Relations from the University of Minnesota. Mike is currently on the Board of the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) and the UW Press Advisory Board. He was a founding Board member of the University of Washington School of Business Administration Alumni Association, and has also served on the University of Washington Foundation Board, the Board of Trustees of the Municipal League of King County, the Friends of the University of Washington Libraries Board, and the boards of the Pacific Northwest Friends of the Carter Center, Scripps College, Seattle Country Day School, Seattle Center Fund and Seattle Emergency Housing Services. Mike was co-chair of parent fundraising for Scripps College and Wellesley College, and has done fundraising for other organizations as well.