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Advisory Board

Ana Ruiz-Kennedy

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Ana Ruiz-Kennedy is a dynamic professional with a diverse background and a wealth of experience in business liaison roles, community development, and marketing. Currently serving as a Business Liaison at Craft3 since November 2022, Ana has demonstrated her commitment to driving impactful initiatives over the past 1 year and 3 months. In this remote position, she leverages her skills to establish meaningful connections and foster collaboration. Before her role at Craft3, Ana contributed significantly to Numerica Credit Union, playing a vital role in community development and impact. As a Community Development Specialist, she showcased her dedication to making a positive difference in the community. Ana's professional journey also includes a pivotal role as the Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Fiesta Foods in Pasco, Washington, where she spent time spearheading strategic marketing efforts. Prior to her work at Fiesta Foods, Ana held the position of Licensed Agent at New York Life Insurance Company for an impressive 5 years and 6 months. In this role, she demonstrated her expertise in insurance and financial services in the Richland/Kennewick/Pasco, Washington area. Her commitment to community service is evident in her role as Vice-Chair at the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs from February 2011 to December 2012. In this capacity, Ana played a crucial role in identifying and defining issues concerning the rights and needs of Washington State's Hispanic community. She provided valuable insights to the Governor, state agencies, and the legislature, establishing essential relationships with various stakeholders. With a career that spans nearly two decades, Ana Ruiz-Kennedy began her professional journey as an Independent Contractor and Spanish Interpreter at Pacific Interpreters, a LanguageLine Solutions Company. Over the course of more than 12 years, Ana contributed her skills as a Tester, Quality Assurance Monitor, and Interpreter. Ana's extensive and diverse background, coupled with her passion for community development, positions her as a valuable asset in any role she undertakes. Her unwavering commitment to making a positive impact and her wealth of experience make Ana Ruiz-Kennedy a standout professional in her field.

Bertha Alicia Garza

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Bertha Alicia Garza has a dedicated career in community-based and grass-rooted organizations. Bertha Alicia Garza is the founder of La Oficina (CSC Yakima) a grass-rooted Business Resource Center. Prior to starting Centro de Servicios Comunitarios (CSC Yakima), she was employed for over a decade with a non-profit organization bringing youth college outreach and after-school programs to Central Washington school districts. She had co-founded a local business center where she was dealing with many Hispanic families that needed her assistance. As the CEO and founder of CSC Yakima, Bertha Alicia brings expertise in program development and management, strategic planning, and organizational development. Bertha Alicia is bilingual and bicultural and is extensively involved in minority leadership efforts in her community over the past 20 years. She strives to build alliances, break barriers, and culturally inclusive practices that create positive relationships and change within the community.

Ivy Murumbei

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My name is Ivy Murumbei, and I am currently a "Running Start" student at Southridge High School. I am graduating this year and plan on getting my bachelor's degree in political science. I was born in Kitengela, Kenya, and moved to Dallas, Texas when I was 5. About four years ago we moved to the Tri-Cities. Being from a foreign country, especially from an underdeveloped one, comes with a lot of struggles but I’ve learned to embrace it and apply the lessons I’ve learned there in my everyday life. In Kenya, I learned the importance of community and the strength of many. Kenya taught me to appreciate what I have, and it also galvanized me. I believe we have a social and moral responsibility to those around us and to make sure we uplift those in need. Supporting the global community is a unique privilege, not a burden.

Jayce Wright

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Jayce Wright (he/him/his) born and raised in East Pasco, spent 10+ years in Seattle, have been back in the TriCities for nearly 10 years. Background working with at-risk, homeless, and LGBT+ youth, with work experience in and with schools and partnering non-profits. Director of Communications for our new and local NAACP Chapter 1135-B. Committed to community improvement and servant leadership. Believer in continued education/training and the powers of collaboration. Love to explore what great minds can create together! Soulja for the cause.

Joshua Hastings

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Joshua Hastings, (he/him/his), is a highly accomplished IT professional from Yakima, WA, with roots in Wapato on the Yakama Reservation. Beginning his IT journey at Heritage College, Joshua's career includes notable roles at Microsoft, Kelley Blue Book, AutoTrader.com, Latino Community Fund, and Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic. Under his business entity, Joshua excels as a Consultant and Owner, showcasing expertise in technology enablement, marketing & digital communications, public relations, and graphic design. As President and Director of External Affairs at Yakima Pride, he has led LGBTQ+ advocacy, co-founding the organization and achieving significant growth in the Yakima Valley and Central Washington. In his role on the Rural Americans United Advisory Board, Joshua leverages his nonprofit management experience, emphasizing LGBTQ+ representation. His community engagement philosophy centers on empowerment, teamwork, and passion. Rooted in chosen family values, Joshua's dedication to inclusive representation and fostering growth makes him a valuable contributor to Rural Americans United, enriching the organization with his passion for community empowerment and positive change.

Kim Lehrman

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Kim Lehrman is a passionate advocate for unity, inclusivity, and community empowerment. Raised on a first-generation cattle and alfalfa farm in Tri-Cities, Kim brings a unique perspective to local decision-making as a teacher, mother of four and Vice Chair city of Pasco Planning Commissioner. Kim's educational journey includes earning a BS in General Agriculture Science, a WA state teaching certificate, and a minor in Public Relations from Washington State University in 2000. She furthered her education by obtaining a Masters in Educational Leadership in 2006, becoming the first female Agriculture Educator in Southern Oregon. In 2002, Kim moved to Pasco and began her career as an Ag. Ed instructor, teaching welding at Kennewick High School. Her commitment to education extended to Pasco High School and Chiawana High School, where she taught Career and Technical Education classes, preparing future leaders. Beyond her professional endeavors, Kim has been actively involved in the community. She served as a former parent Co-Chair, Title 1 Parent Ambassador, and volunteered as a coach for youth soccer, basketball, and volleyball. Kim's dedication to community service led her to volunteer on the Pasco School District Long-Term Facility Management Plan, participate in pro-bond and pro-levy campaigns and collaborate on City of Pasco's proclamations for celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Currently serving as an Art instructor at Chiawana High School, Kim Lehrman is dedicated to building a unified Pasco where all voices are valued and heard. Her advocacy encompasses supporting diverse voices, safety for all, affordable housing solutions, and economic development.

Maricella Sanchez

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Maricela Sanchez, MD Resilient Advocate for Rural Prosperity Born to a Mexican immigrant family in the Yakima Valley, Maricela Sanchez, MD, embodies the spirit of resilience and determination. Growing up, she contributed alongside her family as migrant farm laborers, cultivating crops across Washington State. This early experience instilled in her a deep appreciation for agriculture and a commitment to elevating the lives of those engaged in similar endeavors. Maricela's pursuit of education began with a Bachelor's degree in American Ethnic Studies from the University of Washington. Following her academic achievements, she dedicated herself to fostering young minds as a middle school math and science teacher in Los Angeles through the Teach for America program. This experience fueled her passion for education and community development. Driven by a desire to make a broader impact, Dr. Sanchez pursued a degree in medicine at Stanford University. Her journey continued with residency and fellowship in anesthesiology at Columbia University, showcasing her commitment to excellence in the medical field. Currently, Dr. Sanchez is a practicing anesthesiologist at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, WA. Her dedication to healthcare and community well-being is reflected in her active role in both the medical profession and community leadership. Beyond her medical practice, Maricela is an influential figure in the Prosser community. As a member of the Prosser City Council and the board of Heritage University, she combines her medical expertise with a passion for education, sustainable agriculture, and rural prosperity. Maricela Sanchez stands as a beacon of resilience, seamlessly blending her medical expertise with her dedication to education, community development, and the well-being of rural America.

Paul Tabayoyon

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Hello, I’m Paul Tabayoyon, the Executive Director for our Yakima Chapter of the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition (APIC-Yakima). I have always claimed Yakima Washington as my home. After 20 years of travel in the United States and western hemisphere, working a career in engineering services, continuing my education has always been central to my achieving my goals. In 2019, I graduated from Central Washington University with a Bachelor’s degree of Applied Science in Integrated Energy Management, an Energy Manager and Systems Analyst, following previous education at Perry Technical and Yakima Valley College. Adding environmental sustainability, social, and economic considerations while enhancing my previous career of industrial automation engineering and project management, I feel I have increased my understanding of the equity imbalances across many community and business spectrums. Having grown up in a small community, I still have ties to family and childhood friends, and work to improve our community. Through being present, involved, and willing to take the initiative, we can improve access to information and educational programs to ensure that everyone, regardless of economic or social status, has the opportunity to improve themselves, their families, and their communities. I feel I understand the need for strong diversity and the contributions that come from many different economic, social, and cultural sources within our communities.

Soneya Lund

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Soneya Lund of Yakima, Washington, is a dynamic community leader with a background in business, public service, and advocacy. As a small business owner, she has expanded her salon business to four locations and actively engages in local policymaking as a former City Councilperson and Deputy-Mayor. Soneya is dedicated to addressing housing insecurity and homelessness, collaborating with local organizations and serving on planning groups to find solutions. She brings her expertise to various board memberships and committees, including the City of Yakima Planning Commission, Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Yakima Arts Commission, and Justice Housing Board. Soneya is deeply involved in initiatives to combat homelessness through her roles in the Homeless Network of Yakima County and Yakima County Homeless Coalition Executive Committee. Beyond her professional commitments, Soneya is a graduate of Leadership Yakima and an active member of the Rotary Club of Yakima, where she participates in community service projects. She also volunteers at the Young Adult Extreme Winter Weather Shelter, providing emergency shelter for young adults. With her dedication to community development and advocacy, Soneya Lund is a driving force for positive change in Yakima and beyond.

Join us

Rural Americans United

We are a fast growing movement and everything we do is grounded in community. We welcome volunteers and potential staffers to fill in an information sheet. 

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