Our Team

The World Family



Yasmin Habib 



To escape the indiscriminate civil violence of her homeland, Yasmin Habib came to the United States in the late nineties as a six-year-old Somali refugee. This experience of displacement and resettlement has continuously fueled her desire to positively impact the world and work towards lasting social change. Yasmin graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A in Medical Anthropology & Global Health. After graduation she worked as a private consultant on projects and programs aimed at decreasing health disparities for refugee communities of King County. In 2014, she founded the Academy with a vision for a more holistic and equitable approach to youth development, especially for underserved young leaders.


Belina Seare 


Belina’s experiences as the daughter of two working-class Eritrean immigrants shaped her understanding of the world and challenged her to think critically about the structural barriers that our communities experience, particularly within education systems. Belina continued to build on her analysis as an activist-student turned organizer during her undergraduate studies at Western Washington University where she helped lead important change initiatives. Belina took her experiences as a student organizer and worked within the labor movement at the University of Washington and has continued to work extensively on international and local human rights issues. Growing at the cornerstone of art and community remains at her core, but building space for innovation and creativity has led to her passion for utilizing technology in reimagining a world that is equitable and humane. As the Youth Program Coordinator,  Belina brings her passion and her fierce dedication to uplift the mission of the WMCA to empower refugee and immigrant youth to emerge as the bold visionaries that they are.


Mares Asfaha 


A first generation Eritrean American, Asfaha’s first hand experience confronting the challenges of cultural identity has greatly impacted the direction of her work. After graduating from Whitman College, Mares worked for the Walla Walla Helpline, showing the reality of poverty through social media and a weekly radio show. With a B.A. in French and Economics, she returned to Seattle and worked for the Economic Opportunity Institute to advance higher education policy, and Washington Progress Alliance to support civic participation in marginalized communities. For the last two years, Mares has worked in Rainier Vista, first as an assistant teacher with Refugee Women’s Alliance afterschool program for 4th-8th graders, then as a youth program coordinator with Seattle Housing Authority. With her strong community connections, Mares brings a valuable perspective of the children and families in the neighborhood and serves as a passionate advocate for community needs.


Bettina Shell-Duncan


University of Washington

Professor of Anthropology and Global Health

Chair of Anthropology


Dr. Shell-Duncan has been involved with the Academy since its founding in 2014, volunteering her time and resources to support the work being done in developing the organization and engaging the community. Some of Bettina's relevant experiences include grant writing, fund development, fundraising, contracting, and cultivating positive community relations. As a researcher, anthropologist, and the daughter of an immigrant herself, Dr. Shell-Duncan is committed to leveraging her skills and resources to further WMCA’s mission and to help cultivate opportunities for the community to self advocate.


Lellisse Gonfa 


Lellisse is a first generation Ethiopian American. Her family resettled to the U.S. as refugees and eventually Seattle became their new home. She sees a connection between herself and the youth of immigrant and refugee backgrounds in Seattle having been raised there too and wants to be of as much assistance to the youth in order to help them reach their greatest potential. During her undergraduate years she volunteered with Horn of Africa Services as a tutor. Her passions include science, research, youth and education. Lellisse has graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in Anthropology (MAGH) and Biochemistry and is currently a clinical lab assistant.Here you can add a short description.

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WMCA Rainier Vista Seattle WA, 98108, 206.659.6432