The People's Gathering - Spring 2021

SOLD OUT    —    SOLD OUT    —    SOLD OUT

Anti-Racism, Advancement, Advocacy: What Is It AND How Do We Engage?

Date: April 22, 2021

8:30 am – 3:00 pm
Online Event
Cost: $69*

For every step we take toward justice, the construct of race and systems of racism continue to block our progress. In a few short weeks, one year will have passed since George Floyd (a Black man) was murdered with a knee on his neck by a (white) Minneapolis police officer. Closer to home, it has been more than one year since Tacoma police murdered Manny Ellis (a Black man), whose case remains unresolved. Just a few months ago, the Seattle police department gained national attention for its excessive use of force in crowd control during the Black Lives Matter protests. And in most recent news, violence against Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders is rising rapidly. Also, let us not forget the recent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by those claiming to be patriots while attempting to impede the certification of a lawful election. Most of those domestic terrorists walked free, shielded by their whiteness.

Undergirding each of these cases is the murky and messy issue of individual and systemic racism and how we may be impacted by and/or implicated in both. It’s a conversation most people avoid. Yet, the conversation must be had as part of imagining and creating a more just society.

Join us April 22 at the upcoming convening of the professional development conference, “The People’s Gathering: A Revolution of Consciousness.” There, we’ll tackle the race conversation head-on. At TPG, we insist on telling the truth and having the hard conversations necessary to unite our community against racism.

The morning session has four dynamic presenters that will bring diverse perspectives on the theme.

Featured Speakers
Carmen Best

Carmen Best worked for the Seattle Police Department for 28 years. She served in a wide range of positions, including school safety, media relations supervisor, operations lieutenant, assistant chief in the criminal investigation bureau, and interim police chief. In August 2018, she was promoted to Chief of Police. She simultaneously became the 1st African American woman to hold that rank within SPD. She resigned her position effective September 2020 after the Seattle City Council voted to cut police department funding.

Best’s rise and survival within the law enforcement system is a social justice case to examine. She will share her insight on the conference theme through the lenses of her multiple social identities, including being Black, woman, veteran, community servant, and — a top “cop.” Best currently manages a global security account spanning five continents and is a contributor for MSNBC and KING 5 News as a Police Policy Expert.

Sakara Remmu

Sakara Remmu is the Founder and Lead Strategist for the Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance, a statewide advocacy coalition for racial equity and also the founder of Washington Voters for Black Lives Matter. She is a diversity, inclusion, and equity professional and organizational strategies consultant with more than 20 years of experience in equity and root cause analysis, strategic planning, project management, human resources consulting, as well as curriculum development and training facilitation.

Distinctly focused on integration of sustainable and data-driven solutions, Sakara has built a skill set translating the theory of diversity, inclusion, and equity into practice, working with a wide array of professionals and companies in traditional and non-traditional fields, including human services, civil rights, law enforcement, post-secondary education, engineering, public health, construction, and the government sector. She is often called upon by elected and appointed leaders to advise or consult on existing and emerging incidents and issues. She is adept at building diverse coalitions, identifying ways to maximize existing resources to fuel new and lasting solutions, and negotiating mutually beneficial agreements with partners while maintaining and broadening client outcomes

Dr. Karen Johnson

Karen A. Johnson, Ph.D., has been appointed by Governor Jay Inslee as the Director of the newly created state Office of Equity. The Office of Equity, established by the Legislature, was signed into law by Inslee in April of 2020. The office will work with agencies to increase access to equitable opportunities in order to bridge opportunity gaps and reduce disparities. The office will also work with communities to develop the state’s five-year equity plan.

“Karen brings extensive experience working to transform local and state government systems to more equitably serve Washingtonians,” said Inslee. “She has oriented her entire career around helping disadvantaged communities and instituting lasting systemic and institutional change for generations to come. I have every confidence that she will be an excellent, effective director. I am looking forward to working with her collaboratively to ensure that our state is one that supports all Washingtonians. The Office of Equity is an exciting opportunity to reframe how state government works.”

The Hon. G. Helen Whitener, Justice

The Hon. G. Helen Whitener, Justice, was appointed to the Washington State Supreme Court in April 2020 and she was elected by the voters to retain her position on the State Supreme Court in November 2020.

Justice Whitener is well recognized by the legal community for her commitment to justice and equity. Prior to her appointment to Washington State’s highest court, Justice Whitener served as a Pierce County Superior Court judge. Justice Whitener also served as a judge on the Washington State Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals and as a pro-tem judge in Pierce County District Court and the City of Tacoma Municipal Court.
Justice Whitener is the first Black woman to serve on the Washington Supreme Court, the fourth immigrant-born Justice and the first Black LGBT judge in the State of Washington.

Justice Whitener earned her B.A. degree in Business Administration and International Marketing from Baruch College, New York, and received her J.D. degree from Seattle University School of Law. Justice Whitener lives in Pierce County with her wife, attorney Lynn Rainey (CSM-US Army Ret).

Welcome and Opening Remarks
8:30 am – 8:45 am

Session I: Anti-Racism, Advocacy, Advancement: What is it AND How Do We Engage?
8:45 am – 10:45 am
Listen and hear diverse perspectives on the topic from those who have served and continue to serve in the tranches of the social justice movement. What can we learn from their story?


  • Carmen Best, Seattle Police Chief (Retired)
  • Sakara Remmu, Founder, Lead Strategist, Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance and Founder, Washington Voters for Black Lives Matter
  • Dr. Karen Johnson, Director, Washington State Office of Equity, Office of the Governor
  • The Hon. G. Helen Whitener, Justice, Washington State Supreme Court

10:45 am – 11:15 am

Session II – Race Dialogues (breakout sessions)
11:15 am – 1:30 pm
Participants are prompted at registration to choose a dialogue room based on the box they check on the U.S. Census form “race” question.

1:30 pm – 1:45 pm

Session III: Collective Dialogue
1:45 pm – 2:45 pm
A convening of the whole group to hear the report out of key take-aways and “call to action” from each dialogue room.

Acknowledgements and Closing Remarks
2:45 pm – 3:00 pm

The People's Gathering Convener

Melannie Denise Cunningham is Director of Multicultural Outreach and Engagement at PLU. She is also creator, executive producer and host of The People’s Gathering: A Revolution of Consciousness Conference.

Melannie is known locally, nationally, and internationally for her unapologetic talk and activism around anti-racist community building, social and economic justice, education, and advocacy for Black women and girls.  In 2018 she was awarded the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize for her lifetime achievement working towards racial reconciliation.  The “prize” she received was an all-expense-paid trip to Oslo, Norway, to represent her South Sound Washington community at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony.

Melannie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Washington State University, an MBA from Pacific Lutheran University, a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership and Change from Fielding Graduate University, and is currently a doctoral student at Fielding pursuing a Ph.D. in Organizational Development and Change.


Descriptions and Facilitators

Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Other Asian. Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro, Other Pacific Islander.

Tina Huynh

Tina A. Huynh teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in elementary and secondary music education. Her interests lie at the intersection of music in early and middle childhood and cultural diversity. She has led workshops on the inclusion of Vietnamese children’s music in American music classrooms throughout the nation.

Dr. Huynh is author of The Vietnamese Children’s Songbook (unpublished), a compilation of ten popular Vietnamese children’s songs and cultural practices. Her upcoming film, Songs of Little Saigon (First Light Productions), about the resilience of eight Vietnamese American refugee musicians throughout Orange County, California. She is the Project Scholar for the Tacoma Refugee Choir, “a non-auditioned choir united by the plight of refugees and the conviction that everyone has a voice to contribute”. Dr. Huynh holds a D.M.A. and M.M. in Music Teaching and Learning from the University of Southern California and a B.M. in Music Education and B.A. in French from California State University, Long Beach.

Suzanne Pak is the Director of Community & Behavioral Health for Korean Women’s Association (KWA).  Her department provides CRISP (Culturally Responsive, Integrated & Strength-Based Parenting) education for BIPOC parents of young children (with DOH funding), Potentially Preventable Hospitalization (PPH) Learning Collaboration education for community and behavioral health professionals (with TPCHD funding), and care coordination and preventative health education services.  She serves on the Pierce County Opioid Task Force, Tacoma Pierce County Health Departments’ PPH Steering Committee, City of Tacoma’s Age Friendly Tacoma Committee, Help Me Grow’s Community Advisory Board, and Fred Hutch’s Community Advisory Board.  She is a certified trainer in Screening Brief Intervention Referral to Treatment, Motivational Interviewing, and Adverse Childhood Experiences.

Lua Pritchard

Lua Pritchard was born in the village of Amouli, which is located on the island of American Samoa. She left Samoa at the age of 10 to attend school in San Francisco. Lua attended Pepperdine University in Los Angeles and the Universities of Minnesota and Hawaii.

Lua, her husband and her 5 children moved to Lakewood WA in 1988 to care for her in-laws. She and her husband culturally adopted 16 more children in Lakewood; their family now consists of 21 adult children and 34 grandchildren. During this time Lua also worked for the Korean Women’s Association (KWA) ultimately retiring as the Executive Director of KWA in 2009. She is currently the director of the Asia Pacific Cultural Center. Lua has been recognized with countless awards for her volunteer work in the Asian Pacific Community, Pierce County and Washington State.

Latha Sambamurti

Latha Sambamurti is the producer and Artistic, Outreach and Development Director of several large-scale arts and culture festivals in the State of Washington. She is an educator, trained musician, band leader, and winner of Kirkland Performance Center’s You Rock award for community service. She has been a Washington State Arts Commissioner and a Redmond Arts & Culture Commissioner/Chair. She serves as a board director for several state and regional cultural organizations. She holds a master’s degree in English Literature.

Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somali, etc.

Philip Jacobs

Philip “Sharp Skills” Jacobs, PMP is a hip-hop artist, author, entrepreneur, racial equity consultant, and certified Project Management Professional. He leads workshops on entrepreneurship, life skills, and race. He has spoken/presented at several colleges and universities around the country and is a consultant to Fortune 500 companies who want to create more inclusive workspaces. He is the author of two books, Accuracy: A Guide to Living Skillfully and Successfully in Today’s Crazy Times and You Are the Solution. He was the recipient of Seattle Pacific University’s prestigious Medallion Award in 2019 where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2008.

Dr. Terryl Ross

Dr. Terryl Ross has over 40 years of experience related to equity and social justice. Specifically, he specializes in examining the intersectionality of race, changing demographics, and environmental justice. He is currently the Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for the University of Washington College of the Environment. Terryl completed his Ph.D. in Educational and Communications Technology at the University of Washington. His dissertation topic was, “MOSAIC: The Case Study of a Diversity-based, E-learning Community.” He received his MA from Syracuse University in Public Relations and he majored in Government at Eastern Washington University. He is a co-founder of and is completing his first book, “The Rise of Others and the Quest for Power.”

Veronica Very

Veronica Very is founder and visionary, of Wonder of Women International. Wonder of Women creates sacred spaces for Black women and girls to find their voice, stand in their truth and tell their story. T. Morgan Dixon, Founder and CEO of GirlTrek describes Veronica this way “……each year, GirlTrek convenes a corps of world-class teachers, content experts and medical professionals to lead America’s Largest organization for Black women. Veronica is the teacher’s teacher. She’s our guru! Her powerful voice, keen strategy and loving leadership sets the agenda every time.”

Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian, Guatemalan, Spaniard, Ecuadorian, etc.

Matt Martinez

Matt Martinez joined KNKX in August 2015 as Director of Content, overseeing all editorial channels, including KNKX News, online content, social media platforms, Jazz24 — Pacific Public Media’s 24-hour global jazz stream.

Raúl Sanchez

Raúl Sanchez is the current City of Redmond Poet Laureate. He teaches poetry in Spanish through the Seattle Arts and Lectures (WITS) program, also through the Jack Straw Educational Project. In the last three years he volunteered for PONGO Teen Writing at the Juvenile Detention Center. His forthcoming second collection “When There Were No Borders” will be released Spring 2021 from Flower Song Press, McAllen Texas.

Navajo Nation, Blackfeet Tribe, Mayan, Aztec, Native Village of Barrow Inupiat Traditional Government, Nome Eskimo Community, etc. or other.

Renée Roman Nose

Renée Roman Nose, MAIS, is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. She is an activist, artist, actor, poet, painter, photographer, and cultural anthropologist. Her book, Sweet Grass Talking (2017), was published by Uttered Chaos Press and nominated for the Oregon Book of the Year Award for 2017. Her paintings and photography have been most recently featured at the Kallet Theater in Oneida, NY, as well as having had showings in Tacoma and Everett, Washington. Her second book, Have War Paint, Will Travel, is currently with the publisher, and her third book, as yet untitled, is a collaborative book of poetry with Suzan Harjo.

Roxane Maiko Byrne

Roxane Maiko Byrne is the Interim Coordinator of Equity, Diversity, and Cultural Competency at Santa Barbara City College and has over 15 years of experience in teaching, counseling, and life coaching. Roxane is a Critical Multiracial, Feminist scholar and holds a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology, a Master of Arts in Human Development and is currently completing a PhD dissertation in Human Development with a research focus on Multiracial identity and belonging. As a self-identified Biracial, multicultural woman, Roxane has a personal, professional, and scholarly interest in advancing critical conversations about the Multiracial experience in the United States.

Christian Paige

Christian Paige is an Emmy nominated poet, an educator and consultant with a passion for anti-racism and youth empowerment. Paige is from the greatest city on the planet, Tacoma Washington. He is an Act Six scholar, first generation college graduate and the president and CEO of the Fifth Stone Collective Co. He lives by the words of the famous poet Maya Angelou, “They will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”

German, Irish, English, Italian, Lebanese, Egyptian, etc.

Kristy Gledhill

Kristy Gledhill founded the South Sound Antiracist Project in the summer of 2019 in response to a growing dissonance in her own life between the reality of racism and the direct attention and action she was applying to understanding and fighting it. A white affinity group that meets monthly, with additional monthly “action group” meetings, SSARP is an active community of white people committed to understanding, adopting, employing and promoting antiracist ideas, policies and actions in all their spheres of influence. On the side, Kristy is a writer living with her husband in Gig Harbor. She has lived and worked—mostly for nonprofits—in the Tacoma area for 26 years.

Dr. Beth Kraig

Beth Kraig, Ph.D. strongest interests center on the history of discrimination and oppression (and resistance to those forces) in the United States, and especially in the 20th century. Her research into the subject include examinations of anti-gay ballot measures in the 1970s, racism in the military in World War II, and feminist voices in popular literature in the post-WWII decades. She is actively involved in interdisciplinary programs and fields of study, including Women’s Studies and Peace Studies, and has participated in research and projects that center on the importance of historical thinking in interdisciplinary contexts. Dr. Kraig is a professor of History at Pacific Lutheran University (retired).

Abigail Lynam

Abigail Lynam is faculty for Fielding University’s PhD program in Human and Organizational Development and faculty, facilitator, and coach for Pacific Integral’s Generating Transformative Change leadership development program in Seattle and Ethiopia. Abigail’s scholarship and practice integrates the interior dimensions of human knowledge and experience (culture, worldviews, adult developmental psychology, wisdom traditions, etc.) with adult learning, and social and ecological change work. She lives in the Seattle area and is passionate about deep systemic change, addressing global and planetary injustices, and bridging divides.

Thomas Reynolds

Thomas has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit leadership focused on addressing poverty, hunger and other forms of global injustice all over the world. After working in Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, he served as Vice President of Program Partnerships and Learning at CARE, responsible for anti-poverty programs in 95 countries.
Since 2017, Thomas has been the CEO of Northwest Harvest where he is focused on advancing equity-oriented policy outcomes; developing a network of human service providers; and distributing nutritious and culturally appropriate food throughout Washington.

* Click here for Refund Policy

Registration closes on Friday April 16, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.