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Seven new justice leadership interns start year of service

Anya McMurrer, Daniel Solomon, Abi Velasco, Iris Chavez, Denise Parry, Latanya Jenkins, David Choi and Emily Martin complete their year as interns with the Justice Leadership Program (JLP) of the Pacific Northwest UCC Conference. 

Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Dickinson

The end of July, the 2016-2017 Justice Leadership Program (JLP) interns ended their year of service.

Abi Velasco will continue in development for the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.

Denise Parry, who served with the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness and Prospect Congregational UCC, has begun a job at the Lifelong AIDS Alliance in Seattle.

Latanya Jenkins, who served Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and Plymouth UCC, does case management at the Downtown Emergency Service Center.

Others ending their year are Daniel Solomon who worked with 350 Seattle and Plymouth; Anya McMurrer, who worked with the Church Council of Greater Seattle (CCGS) and Northshore UCC; Emily Martin, who interned with Earth Ministry and First Congregational UCC in Bellevue; David Choi, who did advocacy with the Faith Action Network and partnered with All Pilgrims Christian, and Iris Chavez, who also worked with the CCGS and was at Keystone in Seattle.

Three weeks later, the program welcomed seven new social justice interns, who were oriented to Seattle through tours of the Duwamish Longhouse, murals at Garfield High School, ice cream with Conference Minister Mike Denton and hearing faith stories from their UCC supervisors.

They began their nonprofit and congregational service after Labor Day.  The new interns are Amanda Agrellas, Brianna (Bri) Little, Daniel de la Rosa, Erica West, Hunter Paulson-Smith, Leda Zakarison and Renee Lumia.

Amanda Agrellas

Amanda, who grew up on the mission field in Guatemala and now considers Seattle her home, will work with the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness and with Plymouth UCC.

She graduated in 2017 with a degree in sociology from Seattle Pacific University, where she was president of the Intersectional Feminist Club, which starts conversations about inequality and raises awareness of gender-based violence.


Brianna Little


Bri, a native of Washington, D.C., and  recent graduate of William and Mary College, will serve with the Real Change Homeless Empowerment Project and Keystone UCC.

A poet, reader and dog enthusiast, she has a strong sense of justice and is interested in intersections of identity, creative work and social activism.  She believes in the strength of empathy, education, self-advocacy and community as means to achieve equity.



Daniel de la Rosa

Daniel, a 26-year-old Cuban-American fluent in Spanish and English, will serve with SEIU 6 and Northshore UCC.

He grew up in Miami, raised by his single mother, who is his best friend, mentor and favorite person.  In 2013, he earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Florida.  For two years he served with Americorps with Florida Reading Corps in Miami.





Erica West

Erica, who is from Alexandria, Va., and recently graduated in American studies and government from William and Mary University, will advocate for immigrant rights, affordable housing and economic justice with the Church Council of Greater Seattle and serve with University Congregational UCC.

In college, she played a key role bringing gender inclusive housing options to campus and holding the university’s administration accountable through organizing with Black Lives Matter Williamsburg.




Hunter Paulson Smith

Hunter, a 2016 graduate of Evergreen State College in Olympia majoring in creative writing and studies in environment, public health and queer studies, will work with Earth Ministry and Keystone UCC.

Hunter is interested in finding ways to make spaces more accessible and safe for members of the LGBTQ+ community.  Hunter, a femme who uses they/them pronouns, seeks to open discussions on gender, race, class and sexuality, and conversations on mental health.




Leda Zakarison

Leda, a fourth-generation daughter of the Palouse, born and raised in Pullman and a lifelong UCC member who has spent summers at Camp N-Sid-Sen, will also intern with Earth Ministry and serve with Prospect UCC.

In 2016, she graduated from Whitman College with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies and a minor in French.  At Whitman, she discovered a passion for interfaith ministry and advocacy, working three years as an intern in Whitman’s Office of Religious and Spiritual life, and at Whitman’s chapter of Better Together, an organization that promotes interfaith understanding on campuses through conversations and direct service.


Renee Lumia

Renee, who is from Maple Valley, Wash., and has lived her live in the Pacific Northwest, said her faith compels her to protect her home and the livelihoods of those who share it.

She will intern with 350 Seattle to advocate for environmental conservation, social justice and climate change acceptance, and All Pilgrims Christian Church. 

Renee has enjoyed teaching about environmental conservation through Girl Scouts of Western Washington, developing an interactive curriculum for girls in pre-K through sixth grade, and mentoring girls in seventh through 12th grades to organize such a curriculum.  As someone who has struggled with mental illness, she advocates for mental health awareness through theatrical monologue performances and video projects.


Elizabeth Dickinson continues as program manager for the Justice Leadership Program affiliate of the UCC national Young Adult Service Communities Network.

For information, call 206-320-0432 or 498-4654, email or visit


Pacific Northwest United Church News © September-October 2017


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