Karen’s role as Executive Director is to plan and execute the overall strategic and operational responsibility for ANEW’s staff, programs, expansion and execution of its mission. Karen comes to ANEW from Montana where she led programs and advocated for policies focused on building economic security for all. Karen is a dedicated servant leader and has a passion for social justice issues. Karen is committed to developing collaborative partnerships resulting in systemic change. Throughout her career, she has utilized her entrepreneurial spirit and skills to create and implement new and innovative programs aimed at moving people toward family wage jobs. Karen is a published author and when not serving her community, she likes to spend time on the beach. She counts her three children as her proudest accomplishments.
Kristina Szczyrbak, Interim Deputy Director
Kristina comes to ANEW with 16 years experience working in the non-profit sector as an ally and intermediary for women entering construction and advanced manufacturing careers.
Kristina’s experience is focused on women-only pre-apprenticeship programs and technical assistance to registered apprenticeships on the recruitment and retention of women. As a Program Coordinator, she spent seven years developing the Step Up for Women Construction PreApprenticeship. She personally conducted 13 training cohorts totaling 195 participants with a graduation rate of 79%, a job placement rate of 81%, and a registered apprenticeship placement rate of 43%, many of the women the first in their unions. She went on to become the Deputy Director where she oversaw four pre-apprenticeship training programs and traveled the country as a Subject Matter Expert hosting workshops on the recruitment and retention of women into non-traditional occupations and registered apprenticeship. She then was appointed to Executive Director where she funded the entire organization through competitive grant writing, launched and oversaw two new pre-apprenticeship training programs in rural regions, and continued to facilitate professional training workshops.
She’s also proud to say that her own 22-year-old daughter is an Electrician Apprentice with the IBEW and in 2022, bought her own home. This grants Kristina another unique point of view as a parent facing the struggles and fears encountered when our young women enter the trades. All of Kristina’s experience comes from doing the work with the people that need it. Her goal now is to put that experience to work for ANEW and the women of Washington.
Marquia Wooten, RISE Up Director
Marquia is an example of a female professional who has bravely carved out her own non-traditional pathway as a heavy equipment operator, entrepreneur, and mentor figure. As a single mother, Marquia knew that it would be important to find a career pathway that would not only allow her to earn a livable wage, but also ensure growth that would provide her family with every advantage. She decided to enroll in ANEW. In 2013, she successfully entered the trades as a member of the Local 440 union in Seattle. Successful in this endeavor, the opportunity presented itself in 2015, to join the Operating Engineers Local 302, where she is still an active member today. In 2019, in efforts to harness her knowledge and give back to the community, Marquia felt it was time to start a business of her own, GN Squared Construction. GN Squared Construction provides post construction cleaning services for commercial and residential projects with additional services aimed at not only giving back to the community but also making the world a more beautiful place. Marquia is grateful for the opportunity to share her story in hopes to encourage more women looking for a career that is not only rewarding but will also provide them with financial stability.
Kerstin Torrescano, Director of Operations
Kerstin comes to ANEW as a Seattle born native where she attended the University of Washington and received her BA in social work and then continued on to receive her Master’s degree in social work from the University of Kentucky. Kerstin likes working in non-profit because she has a devoted drive to provide opportunities for her students to learn and create pathways for them to change their lives. Kerstin says, “Celebrating ALL the successes students have, no matter what they are doing in programming, is the best part of my job and inspires me.” Coming from Seattle’s YouthBuild Program she brings experience in innovative program development and best practices for program quality. Kerstin was a local high school and college athlete who now enjoys coaching girls AAU basketball in the local area. In her spare time she likes to read, hike, play basketball, and listen to lots and lots of music!
Dee Jackson, Director of Programs
Dee has spent the last decade and a half working for the Seattle Public, an Independent School, and nonprofits that partnership with School Districts such as Community Learning Centers and YMCAs. Dee has worked as a Behavioral Specialist and Program Director for various nonprofits and the Public-School District. She was born and raised in Seattle and lived on the East Coast, while being a college athlete, where she earned a degree in Child Psychology. Dee also earned a Child Developments Associates and Extended Education Certificate from the University of Washington. Dee has 14 nieces and nephews with whom she loves to spend time and go on adventures.
Megan Clark, Director of Strategic Partnerships
As the Director of Strategic Partnerships Megan works closely with apprentices, community organizations, contractors and other non-profit and government programs, supporting and executing communication strategies to raise awareness of our programs and generate new partnerships. Prior to coming to ANEW, Megan comes from the promotional marketing and Fire Alarm services background. She has experience with working closely with clients and service technicians in the fire alarm industry handling service calls, scheduling building inspections and developing service protocols as needed. When she is not working, she has a 17-year-old daughter and 14 year old son she loves to spend time with. She has done the Seattle To Portland bike ride (STP) 5 times, loves to ski with her kids during the winter and the water, sun and fun during the summer!
Roxane Blevens, Co-Director of Training
Roxane received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and has been with ANEW since 2017. Prior to joining the ANEW team, Roxane worked as the Operations Manager for a men’s clothing store for 7 years. Most recently, she worked in client collections for an IT solutions company because it brought her closer to home. However, she quickly realized that she missed working with such a variety of people every day and found what she missed when she came on board with ANEW. Roxane is married to a union painter and has a son and a daughter, both of whom keep her very busy! In her free time, she enjoys watching the Seahawks, trying new recipes, and exploring the Pacific Northwest.
Michelle Layne, Lead Instructor
Michelle is an Indiana-native and proud Navy Veteran. As a member of the Laborers Union Local 242, she has worked 6 years doing intensive laboring skills, as expected. Michelle is a mother of two children and has two grandchildren. She enjoys taking care of her farm animals and spending time with her family in her spare time. Michelle is ecstatic to be a part of the ANEW program to give her experiences, knowledge and passion as a woman in the construction industry.
Kerry Brothers, Trades Rotation Program (TRP) Program Manager
Kerry has over a decade of experience as a STEM Instructional and Training leader working with adults and students of all ages implementing training programs that build problem-solvers, critical and creative thinkers, and strong team members. In addition to the training leadership role, he spent 10 years as a carpenter in residential construction. Wanting to advance into commercial trades and be a union member, he joined the ANEW PACE Program as a pre-apprentice member of Cohort 28. The training team’s passion for the trades, the students, and the successes of ANEW graduates obtaining careers in the construction trades led Kerry want to be a part of ANEW and the amazing, high-quality training program.
Simone Bullinger, Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Education (PACE) Program Manager
Simone comes to ANEW with 5 years of experience in WorkForce Development, most recently as an Employment Practitioner for Career Path Services, co-located at South King County DSHS. As a bi-racial woman who has served the populations in both Pierce and King County for over a decade, she founds her work upon the belief in empowering the disadvantaged and socially marginalized. She has a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology from the University of Washington and will soon complete her Masters in Counseling Psychology at Bastyr University. She has worked in social services on both the community and state levels. She is passionate about Women’s rights, queer and gender rights, and equity within the POC community. As a result of her rich cultural background she is committed to continuing to promote intersectionality and inclusion in her work. During her free-time she enjoys spending time with her family, particularly her nieces and nephews. She enjoys the ocean (when seasonally applicable of course) and is deeply passionate about travel.
Shadia Amir, Pre-Apprenticeship Coordinator
Shadia has spent the last few years working in youth development and student success coaching. She has supported diverse groups of students in many different capacities; from tutoring and mentoring 6th graders in English language arts to connecting LGBTQIA+ undergraduate students, faculty, and staff with on-campus resources. Shadia sees herself as a life-long learner and is passionate about providing support to individuals that have been historically underserved. Outside of work she is a cat mom, a film fanatic, and a music lover.
Amber McGinnis, Instructor
Amber was born in Bremerton and has lived in Washington her whole life. She is a Journeywomen Laborer with Local 252 and spent 7 years working in the field. Amber is a mom to 4 wonderful children that she has been homeschooling for 9 years. In her free time she likes to garden and tend to her bee hives. Amber is passionate and dedicated to the unique work we do to bring people into the construction trades and to help them grow personally as well as professionally.
Gerard Thomas, Instructor
Gerard is a proud Journeyman of the Laborer’s Union with nearly a decade of experience under his toolbelt. He began his career with ANEW as a student in the PACE program. After graduating, Gerard began as an apprentice with the union. Due to his work ethic and skill, after only two years on the job, Gerard was promoted to journeyman. The raise was a good thing too since his favorite hobbies are all pretty pricey: family, food, and fast cars! As a leader on the job site, he began mentoring new apprentices and discovered his talent as a great hands-on teacher. He’s now come full circle and is an instructor with ANEW’s PACE Pre-Apprenticeship Program! On being back with ANEW, Gerard says “This is my dream job. I get to help people. They’re paying me but I’d do it for free!”
Chris ‘CJ’ Cruz, Instructor
CJ was born in Long Beach, CA and raised in Spanaway, WA. He’s been apart of the Laborers Union Local 242 for 7 years. Also has been head coach for tackle football for 8 Years. He has a beautiful wife of 7 years, and 3 wonderful children. On CJ’s free time he likes to participate in outdoor activities (camping, fishing, lake/river days), traveling, group gatherings, projects around his house, coaching, watching professional sports, and watching his children compete in many sports. CJ is very excited to be part of the ANEW program to give youth and adults the chance and knowledge to be part of the construction world that he was blessed to be apart of.
Jessica Griffiths, Instructor/YEP Facilitator
Jessica has worked in the non-profit world for most of her adult life. Jessica is a mother of three beautiful children and loves hiking, camping, traveling, and finding new places to eat (she’s a foodie)! Growing up in foster care since the age of 3 (as a Native American) has given her a certain skill set not found amongst the average persons. Surviving the challenging times foster care has thrown at her, she was still determined to strive for success. Jessica was the first person in her family to graduate from high school and to go on to college. Public Schools had always made college such a prominent pathway, so she went on to attend Pierce Community College for her AA in medical administration. While doing so she was hired at Community Health Care as a referral tracker. A couple years in to her job, she had worked her way up to the Referral Coordinator position but shortly realized the college debt she was accruing vs the 17 dollars an hour she was making (after working so hard for 5 years) didn’t pencil out. A majority of Jessica’s family are in the trades, and they had pushed her to try ANEW’s Pre-Apprenticeship program. Graduating from cohort 112, Jessica was the first student in her class to be pulled to enter the union. Her union of choice was Local 528 under the plasterer’s. Eventually Jessica became pregnant with her newest son and worked on the jobsite until she was 7 months pregnant! Once baby came, she decided to apply to ANEW to work with the Youth Exploration Program with students on IEP’s/504 plans. Jessica’s eldest daughter is on the autism spectrum, making this position a perfect fit! Having lived and breathed it, one of Jessica’s goals (alongside of her teachings) is to push the students to find their “grit”. Grit is the nagging conviction that keeps you pressing on when it’d be easier to give up. Grit is what makes you get back on the horse after you’ve been bucked off. Grit is pushing on towards one’s successes even when faced with adversity. Jessica is a great asset to the YEP team! While in YEP’s off season, Jessica is instructing the Pierce county Cohort.
Jason Wirth, Trades Math Instructor
Jason attended University of Washington and got a BS in Mathematics, tutoring Math and Physics throughout. After college, he struggled to find a fulfilling career path. He tried a few disparate fields: tech, food service, automotive technician, etc. Finding purpose in supporting my community, he finally resolved to use his academic experience to empower others through education. He believes our collective knowledge is our rightful inheritance as citizens of the earth, as well as we each deserve a fulfilling life. His is happy to be able to serve his students through his role at ANEW and hopes to continue to find ways to educate and enfranchise those around him. He has a puppy named after Geordi La Forge who he spends all his free time with.
Mandy Richardson, Instructor
Mandy is a journeywoman carpenter who began her career with a four-year apprenticeship through the Northwest Carpenter’s Institute. She then went on to work in construction for six years before coming to ANEW as an instructor. Now, Mandy teaches pre-apprenticeship students about how to be successful in their trade. In her free time, Mandy loves spending time with her young daughter and reading. Of her work with ANEW, Mandy says “When you’re on a construction site, the most important accessory is your toolbelt: You need the right tool for the job–and that includes having the right mindset for it. That’s why my goal as an instructor is to give my students the correct tools they need to thrive in this industry mentally and physically.”
Venus Dean-Bullinger, Youth Exploration Program Coordinator
Venus has worked in Customer Service, Account Management, and health insurance brokerage for over 30 years. She has volunteered with many local non-profits to include Tacoma Pierce County Chamber of Commerce (Westend board member), HopeSparks, Tacoma’s Hilltop/Housing Authority Design The Hill and Tacoma Communities in Schools as a board member. With her passion for volunteerism and education, she also worked with the new SOAR Academy as their Enrollment Team Coordinator. She left the brokerage world 3 years ago and transitioned to her dream job as an Employment Case Manager with the Tacoma Training to Employment Program at Sound Outreach. As an Employment Case Manager, she worked with the pre-apprenticeship cohorts at Bates Tech to remove barriers so that they may successfully complete their courses and move into an apprenticeship program or a living wage position here in the Puget Sound.
Today she builds relationships between our local high school’s Vocational Rehabilitation departments to allowing students the ability to explore the building trades in hopes of preparing them for our pre-apprenticeship programs. She has been married for over 30 years and has two adult children. In her spare time, she and her family love cooking, entertaining, and taking trips to new and exciting places.
Halley Shriber, Apprenticeship Navigator (Western WA)
Halley has spent the past twenty years working alongside communities supporting advancement through collaborative engagement and person-centered care. Her intrigue with how macro-systems affect demographic populations led to a BA in Sociology and a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. After spending much of her life in Massachusetts, she felt called to the west coast and set her sights on the lush Pacific Northwest. Her passion with civic engagement through the lens of social equity followed.
She Apprenticed with GROW Whidbey; learning how to support the community by growing food for their food bank and teaching garden education to K-12 students. She quickly fell in love with nature and the food sovereignty movement. As the Community Outreach Coordinator VISTA for Rainier Valley Food Bank, Halley grew her understanding of policies that shaped food systems. She leveraged the Food Bank’s role as a central hub to run programs, share community resources, collaborate with local schools and organizations as well as improve food security. With the community’s input, she created a proposal for RVFB’s first ever Advisory Council. Her advocacy led to her working as a Wraparound Care Coordinator in rural Oregon. She assisted youth and families with navigating multiple service providers through trauma informed care and strengths-based approaches. She is excited to join ANEW and continue to build resilience, expand compassion, and increase opportunities for youth. When not at work, Halley can be found dancing, playing with her four-legged companion, Kaia, hula hooping, cooking, and enjoying nature.
Sydney Bennett, Outreach Specialist
Before coming to ANEW, Sydney worked as a residential HVAC service technician for three and a half years. She fell in love working in with working in the trades and saw the value of her hard work pay off. She was able to build valuable connections with customers in the community and cannot wait to get more Washington residents into the trades. In her free time she loves to go camping, ride dirt bikes and spend time with her family.