DEIA Commissioners 2023

Elaine Helm

Elaine Helm, Chair

Elaine (she/her) started her term on the DEIA Commission in January 2022. The commission selected her as chair in 2023. She decided to get involved in the commission to make an impact for the community where she lives. She's passionate about addressing systemic barriers and ensuring diverse voices have a say in local government decisions. 

Elaine and her wife married at the Edmonds city courthouse in 2012, shortly after Referendum 74 established marriage equality in Washington. Along with their two children, they enjoy visiting Edmonds parks and beaches, taking part in the vibrant arts scene, eating at local restaurants, and cooking with ingredients from Edmonds Farmers Market. 

Elaine works in communications for a local healthcare company. She also serves on the board of directors for Cocoon House, a nonprofit dedicated to breaking the cycle of homelessness for youth in Snohomish County.

Jeanett Quinanilla 

Jeanett Quintanilla, Co-Chair

Meet Jeanett Quintanilla, a licensed lawyer from Lima, Peru, fascinated with the law and her Latino community. She is passionate about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and accessibility. Jeanett holds a Juris Doctor from the University of San Martin of Porres - Peru, is Paralegal certified at Edmonds College and is certified in Diversity & Inclusion at U. Cornell. Jeanett is fully bilingual (Spanish-English) and advocates for vulnerable diverse communities, women, immigrants, and refugees. Also, she firmly believes in equal rights and equitable opportunities for all. Jeanett brings her international and national work legal experience to the DEIA commission in Edmonds. 

Jeanett’s work in the legal area has brought awareness of injustice based on language barriers, discrimination, unconscious bias, and people’s assumptions about others. So, she wants to use her education to advocate for minority and diverse communities in Edmonds and Washington State and make some changes in our society. In addition, Jeanett is very active and involved in her legal community, so she volunteered at the legal clinic of the Latino Bar Association of Washington (2014-2023) and helped with legal intakes and Spanish interpreters. She also volunteers at the Family Law Clinic at Snohomish County Legal Services and support as an interpreter in family cases. 

Jeanett loves animals and she likes to spend time with her dog “Tessa,” a ten-year-old Labrador, and goes for a walk by the ferry and Marina Beach Park, visits the Edmonds library, and reads books. She likes to cook and make delicious Peruvian food, explore new museums, work out, and dance salsa and cumbia.   

Dipti Chraskra

Dipti Chrastka, Commissioner

 Dipti has lived in Edmonds for over 10 years. Dipti is a behavioral health professional, EDI consultant and trainer and joined the Edmonds DEIA Commission this year.

Throughout her career, Chrastka has held a variety of roles in the community-based health arena. Currently, Chrastka works as the Director of wellness at the University of Washington School of Medicine, where she manages program development and provides one-on-one counseling to residents in the program.

Hailing from India, Dipti is passionate about making systemic changes, calling out injustice and being anti-racist. Dipti serves on the Engagement Committee and is committed to increasing visibility, sharing ideas and engaging the community through outreach and creative activities.

Outside of her full-time position, Chrastka volunteers with the Indian Association of Western Washington on an ad hoc basis, is a consultant for diversity and inclusion trainings for a variety of nonprofits and recently became a certified life coach. In addition, she plays professional table tennis, enjoys trying new sports and continues to perfect the five languages she speaks.

Jessie Owen

Jessie Owen, Commissioner

Meet Jessie Owen, an educator with a passion for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility! Jessie holds a master's degree in educational technology and is currently pursuing her Harvard public leadership credential. As a quadriplegic and wheelchair user, Jessie brings a unique perspective to the table and is especially invested in creating a more accessible city for everyone.

Jessie's work with researchers and legislators has brought awareness and funding for spinal cord injury research, while her collaboration with the Christopher Reeve Foundation has resulted in the introduction of new technologies and fundraising initiatives. With over 10 years of experience working within the parameters of the ADA, Jessie is well-equipped to make an impact with the DEIA Commission in Edmonds

As a mom of 10-month-old twin boys, Jessie's life is always full of surprises and laughter. When she's not busy advocating for accessibility, she's rolling after her little ones and enjoying the chaos that comes with parenting multiples. In her free time, Jessie loves exploring Edmonds with her family and discovering new accessible spots that everyone can enjoy. Jessie loves nothing more than catching a game at T-Mobile Park, partying it up at the library story time, and keeps her finger on the pulse of Edmonds' vibrant cultural scene. Jessie's upbeat personality and sense of humor make her a valuable member of the commission, and her dedication to creating a more accessible and inclusive Edmonds is evident in all that she does.

Alison Alfonso PenceAlison Alfonso Pence, Commissioner

Alison Alfonzo Pence has been a community activist for over 50 years. She spent her early years working as a staff person before she was promoted to be the executive director of the King County Democratic Central Committee. She was soon called to serve as a staff person in the Washington State House of Representatives in Olympia helping to give a voice to people who felt they did not have a voice in the state capital. After ten years of commuting to Olympia she spent several years working for several nonprofits in the Seattle area. She retired as the executive director of the second largest foodbank in Seattle in 2020. Since then, she has worked part time as the Director Pro Tem for the Seattle Human Services Coalition and as a contractor for the Washington State Board of Education. Currently, she is the part-time Executive Director of the MSHH – Donor Closet in Edmonds. Alison works on issues that affect underserved communities especially immigrant, refugee, undocumented families and the disabled community. She is a commissioner on the Edmonds Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Commission and is Vice President of the Edmonds Rotary.


Ardeth Weed

Ardeth Weed, Commissioner

My name is Ardeth Weed.  I am finishing my final year of my three-year term on the Diversity Commission.  I have been interested in living and supporting a diverse community my entire life.  My parents always taught me that the color of your skin, your sexual preference, your physical/mental abilities, etc. make no difference. What matters is the kind of person you are—your actions, your words.  My first husband and the father of my two children was a latino, and we lived in East Los Angeles where he worked for an agency that helped gang members get into a better life.  I taught at a K-6 school in nearby South El Monte.  I later taught 3-8 grades in a very small district in Shasta County, CA and finally became superintendent/principal in three different small school districts of K-8 students.

When the city formed a Diversity Commission, I attended most all of the meetings as a community member.  When I was asked to fill a commissioner opening, I hesitated.  However, I had recently read a book that used the term "unconscious bias."  I realized that if we are not working actively to improve our communities for ALL CITIZENS, then we are still contributing to racism, even if we do not consider ourselves racist. So, I am representing old, white people in our diverse community, and working hard to make our city welcoming and accepting for all people who live, work, and visit our city.

 Pam Iverson 

Pam Iverson, Commissioner

Pam is a retired social worker who has lived in South Snohomish/North King County for several decades.  She moved to Edmonds in 2014, and then served in the Peace Corps in South Africa with her husband for two years.  She is the parent of two and grandparent of five.  She strives to be anti-racist and participates in Racial Justice groups at Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Congregation and Edmonds United Methodist Church.  She enjoys traveling, especially learning about different cultures; reading; and needle arts including knitting and quilting. She loves to explore Edmonds on foot. 


Anil DeCosta

Anil DeCosta, Commissioner

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