Our Staff & Board
Our Staff & Board
David Song, Executive Director
David is proud to be a foreign-born, first-generation Korean-American and the eldest son of an immigrant family from Chicago, by way of Pennsylvania steel country, Fort Polk in Louisiana, and Southern Illinois outside of St. Louis. While he is a new resident in Seattle, he has grown to love this community over the last 4 years since his longtime partner Cynthia relocated here for work. As Kandelia’s Executive Director starting in April 2020, David brings extensive experience in youth program development, community engagement, and organizational management. He has devoted his last 13 years exclusively to organizations in education creating school/community partnerships and a culture of student engagement giving young people of color a voice, including extensive work within Chicago Public Schools, Minneapolis Public Schools, and St. Paul Public Schools and designing education events for the Aspen Ideas Festival, Smithsonian, and DuSable Museum of African-American History.
Fun fact: David is a diehard Un Bien loyalist. And yes, he thinks it’s superior to Paseo.
Tamthy Le, Associate Director
Tamthy Le is the youngest daughter of two Vietnamese refugees who love to rhumba at Emerald Queen Casino’s AsiaFest. She was born and raised in South Seattle and later attended the University of Washington where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Social Welfare with a Minor in Diversity. She began at Kandelia in 2014 as a case manager and currently serves as the Associate Director. She is a big fan of the Mariners, Ezell’s fried chicken, and spending time with her cat Benedict and wife in their home in Beacon Hill.
Fun fact: At 5’ 3”, Tamthy is the tallest person in her family.
(Note: Tamthy and her wife are on a well-deserved international sabbatical between September 2020 and May 2021, when we look forward to her return!)
Baeda Agonafer, Senior Program Manager
Baeda is an alumni of Eastern Mennonite University where he graduated with a BA in Psychology. Baeda has a long history of working with organizations that focus on youth development, and social justice. Baeda previously served as Kandelia’s Volunteer Coordinator, working to emphasize the importance of supporting our growing community.
Fun Fact: Baeda rescued two cats from the streets of Seoul, they now have kitty passports and Instagram account. Can you find them?!
Sieng Douangdala, Community Engagement Manager
Sieng is a creative connector, whose background informs her personal investment in servant leadership and fostering social change. Sieng’s lived experiences as a refugee from Laos helps her serve a variety of cultures. Her experiences includes: program management; wraparound services; and development and implementation of programs focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion. Sieng’s work is rooted and driven by inclusivity, humility, collaboration, and commitment to healing our communities.
Fun Fact: Sieng has two girls and loves spending time outdoors.
Thu Le, Family Engagement Manager
Thu Le came to the U.S. 25 years ago with her husband and daughter as refugees. Before that, she was an elementary teacher in Vietnam for 10 years. She began working with Kandelia in 2014 as the Cultural Navigator and is currently the Family Engagement Manager. She loves gardening, sewing, traveling, and watching the Big Bang Theory.
Fun fact: Thu is the oldest sister of her five siblings.
Aissa Perez, Development Manager
Aissa comes from a family of immigrants and has always felt connected to work that values and lifts up immigrant communities. Since graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Sociology and English, she has worked in both programs and development for nonprofits focused on affordable healthcare and breast cancer research and services. She has called Seattle home for the last 2 years and is excited about working for an organization so centered on the community in the city she loves so much.
Fun fact: Aissa has a cat named Whopper with whom she is only mildly obsessed.
Kristie Wong, Youth Program Manager
Kristie has a Masters in Public Health from the City University of New York. She has worked with youth for over seven years, primarily in communities of color. Kristie brings her knowledge of nutrition and public health to support the basic needs of students and their families.
Fun Fact: Kristie has four chickens who like to eat her vegetable garden.
Mary Nguyen Lee, Bilingual Vietnamese Youth Jobs Coordinator
Mary was born in Hawaii after her parents immigrated to America from Vietnam in the 80s. She grew up in Atlanta and attended Emory University, where she majored in educational studies. After living and teaching in South Korea for five years, she relocated to Washington and is excited about being one of the newest members at Kandelia.
Fun fact: Mary is scared of heights but loves to rock climb.
Lorna Nguyen, Finance and Admin Coordinator
Lorna is a Seattle native who graduated from the University of Washington with dual arts degrees in Psychology and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, with a minor in Diversity. Growing up, she was always drawn towards anything that involved artistic self-expression, service to others, and education. This left her with no other choice than to work with the immigrant and refugee community in Seattle, individuals who are much like her parents, who came to Seattle in the early 90s.
Fun Fact: Lorna’s dream when she retires is to own a floral shop that triples as a coffeehouse and community library for those looking to escape city life, even if it is only for a little while.
MyDung Nguyen, Jobs Family Coordinator
When MyDung was a teenager, she came to America alone as a boat person. Since then, she has spent the past 21 years working alongside refugees as an immigration and resettlement specialist. She is passionate about helping diverse newcomers and anyone that needs help. MyDung also has experience working six years in a bakery.
Fun fact: MyDung loves to cook her favorites: stir fried veggies, chicken curry and beef stew!
Chandra Rapley, Community Resource Coordinator
Chandra is an empathetic educator who is passionate about empowering youth and families and building healthier, more connected communities. She has spent the past decade working and volunteering in the nonprofit and education fields, serving in a variety of roles from volunteer coordinator, homeless services specialist, bike and pedestrian safety educator, and ESL teacher. She was born and raised on the central coast of California, graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. Since then, Chandra has lived and worked in many places, from Montana to Costa Rica, and has found volunteering is her favorite way to connect to her new home and serve the community. She is a newcomer to Seattle, and is looking forward to serving this community and exploring beautiful outdoor areas around the city.
Fun Fact: Chandra has a green belt in judo!
Dakota Spear, Volunteer Coordinator
Dakota grew up in rural Connecticut, and took a roundabout route before arriving in Seattle three years ago. Her experience living and working in several countries, including Costa Rica, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and five states within the USA, has cemented her desire to always do work that lifts a variety of voices, perspectives, and experiences. She is dedicated to helping build community through service, and has helped coordinate volunteers at several Seattle institutions, including the Pacific Science Center, Woodland Park Zoo, and the Seattle Aquarium.
Fun Fact: In 2017, Dakota hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail and loves time in the mountains.
Gayne Sanchez, Family Support
Gayne Sanchez is a former Seattle World School parent. As a mother of two amazing women and one amazing man, she has focused her education and instructional skills on supporting immigrants and newcomers through designing and delivering programs that supports parents to gain the self-confidence to reach their goals.
Juliet Le – Co-Chair
Johnson Nguyen – Co-Chair
Cori Simmons – Secretary
Are you passionate about removing barriers to immigrant and refugee success? Board members use their unique skills and life experiences to help guide our organization to make an impact. Contact us to learn more about opportunities to join our board.
“From my personal experience, it was really hard to get my job. I had to practice a lot before coming in to my interview. One thing I liked the most about this program was that we basically did this mock interview, or practice interview. It was something that helped me get more confident. I would say that it helped me a lot with getting my first job.“