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Our Team

The World Family





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.




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.




Coming from a multilingual, immigrant household of five girls, Sabrina brings a valuable perspective as a World Mentor and Outreach Specialist. Born in Kenya, Sabrina experienced her early years in a refugee camp before her family immigrated to the United States in search of a safe haven. As a World Mentor she understands the unique struggles faced by refugee and children of refugees who are in search of stability. She serves as WMCA's mentor and cultural liaison, utilizing her language and cultural skills to facilitate communication and advocate for community needs. In doing so, Sabrina's ultimate goal is to create community and a sense of belonging for marginalized children and families.

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.


Constance Joi Calonge (CJ)


Triage RN, Carolyn Downs Family Center


Constance (CJ) has been a dedicated and passionate volunteer at WMCA since 2015 and has worked to engage the young community builders of Rainier Vista as an event planner and mentor on a day-to-day basis. As a second generation Filipino American, she is passionate about contributing to the goal of achieving health equity, by listening to the needs of underserved communities and collaborating in an interdisciplinary team to address these needs. She plans to fulfill her passion as a community health nurse in Seattle and right here with us as an amazing board member at the Academy!

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