Board President — Lauren E. McGowan
Vice President — Jon Clarke
Treasurer — Nathan Garnett
Secretary — Nellie Johnson
Cristin Kent Aragon ~ John Babauta ~ Thomas Bates
Alain J. Dias ~ Pierre Grand ~ Justin Hellier
Anne Kysar ~ Robert Lee ~ Janel Ostrem
Matt Rorabaugh ~ Patricia Ryan
Barbara D. Sykes ~ Christopher Villiers
Find out how you can join our Board of Directors.
Cristin Kent Aragon is an attorney at Yarmuth Wilsdon PLLC. Her practice focuses on civil litigation in a variety of legal areas, including employment, contract and business disputes. Before joining Yarmuth, Cristin was an attorney in the labor and employment group at K&L Gates LLP. Cristin has devoted much of her practice to pro bono work, including providing advice to nonprofit organizations, representing an individual seeking asylum, and representing individuals seeking redress for discriminatory treatment. Cristin earned a BA in Political Science from Western Washington University and a JD from Seattle University School of Law.
Thomas Bates is a federal prosecutor, serving as the Executive Assistant US Attorney in the US Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington. He previously was Vice President for Civic Engagement at Rock the Vote, where he led voter registration and education, issues advocacy, and research efforts for the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter registration organization. Prior to joining Rock the Vote, Thomas was cofounder and Executive Director of Democrats Work, a national organization that connected grassroots Democrats with community service projects and built a service-based approach to politics. He has worked on Capitol Hill as a top aide to a Member of Congress, practiced law as a litigator at Cooley LLP, and served as a senior advisor on the reelection campaign of Governor Chris Gregoire. He is a graduate of Duke University and the New York University School of Law and currently serves as Commissioner on the Washington State Commission on National and Community Service.
Jon Clarke is a Senior Loan Officer with the Enterprise Community Loan Fund, which provides financing for affordable housing and community facilities. Jon previously served as a Senior Program Officer with Impact Capital and as a housing developer for Beacon Development Group, where he managed the development of multiple affordable housing projects for nonprofit and Housing Authority clients throughout Washington State. He also worked as an analyst for the Tax Credit Division of the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. Jon has a BA in Economics from Holy Cross and an MS in Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin.
Alain Dias is CEO of Dragontail Capital Limited, a private investment firm focused on technology, media/entertainment and digital marketing. The firm specializes in majority buyouts and accretive buildups of software and services companies. Prior, Alain was Managing Partner and COO at Ascentium Corporation with responsibilities for sales and marketing, business operations and corporate development. A widely read authority on the subject of business transformation and coauthor of the seminal industry text “Technology Strategy: Pure & Simple,” Alain has assisted companies and government agencies worldwide in reinventing themselves through technology. Before Ascentium, Alain was a senior director at Interlink Group, where he managed the firm’s strategic consulting group focusing on emerging market trends and strategic technology opportunities for Fortune 500 clients. Alain is a graduate of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris.
Nathan Garnett joined the Solid Ground Board of Directors in 2011. His previous nonprofit experience includes service on the Board of the Unemployment Law Project, a legal aid organization that advocates for recently unemployed workers, where he served terms as Board Chair and Board Secretary. He also sat on the Board of the West Seattle Food Bank, where he served terms as Board Vice President and Board Secretary. In addition to board service, Nathan has volunteered in food distribution at the West Seattle Food Bank, as a pro bono legal advocate at the Unemployment Law Project, and as a pro bono legal counselor at the Washington C.A.S.H. low-income entrepreneurial clinic. He is currently Associate General Counsel of Blucora, Inc., where he focuses on business and technology law. He previously worked as an associate at Perkins Coie LLP and as Associate General Counsel and Assistant Secretary at drugstore.com, inc. Nathan has a BA in History from the University of Washington and a JD from the University of Washington School of Law.
Pierre Grand is Deputy Director in the Family Health division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In this capacity Pierre leads the strategy planning activities for the division and manages its grant making and grant management operations. Prior to joining the Foundation, Pierre was with Hewlett Packard where he served in various capacities from product engineering to business development and marketing. Pierre received a diplome d’ingenieur in Electrical Engineering from École Centrale de Lyon, and an MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Justin Hellier is Corps Program Manager at EarthCorps, a Seattle nonprofit dedicated to developing leadership, building community and restoring ecosystems. In that role, he manages a service learning program that engages dozens of young people in a year of national service through AmeriCorps. In his first job out of college, he served as a Solid Ground MLK VISTA, providing technical assistance to community groups leading park improvement projects in the Rainier Valley, South Beacon Hill, the Central District and Yesler Terrace. In the years since, he has researched the cleanup of the Duwamish River as an intern in Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn’s office, evaluated the EPA’s community involvement planning as a National Network for Environmental Management Studies Fellow in Washington, DC, and taught courses on sustainability at the University of Washington’s Program on the Environment. He holds Masters’ degrees from the UW’s Evans School of Public Affairs and School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, and is excited to put his skills and passion to work on the Solid Ground Board.
Nellie Johnson received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington in 1987 and has lived and worked in the Pacific Northwest most of her life. She has worked in the Aerospace Industry, Niche Marketing, Publishing, Education, Retail, Cellular Technology and Insurance, and she currently works for CBRE, Inc., a global full-service real estate services company. She is responsible for the management of a Contract Administration and Sourcing team in support of facilities management services for the Microsoft Corporation. Special interests include literature, fine art, glass blowing, history and script writing.
Anne Kysar is an attorney practicing exclusively in the area of Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income Benefits at Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender since 2003. Anne has represented disabled workers at all stages of the Social Security Administration appeal process. Anne frequently trains other lawyers how to practice disability law. Prior to joining Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender, Anne was a public defender and provided civil legal services to indigent youth. Anne received her law degree from New York University School of Law in 1997. Anne has received numerous awards for her community service work including the Harry S. Truman Public Service award and a New York University School of Law Community Service award. Anne was also a Root-Tilden-Snow Public Service Scholar at NYU Law School.
Robert Lee is a Project Engineer with the City of Auburn where he manages capital improvements in the transportation, storm drainage, water and sanitary sewer disciplines. Robert has spent his entire professional career in the public sector where he has worked in various engineering capacities at Washington State Department of Transportation, King County and the City of Seattle. During his career, Robert has been an advocate for increasing Women and Minority Business access to public contracting. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree from the University of Washington and is a Board Director for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Zeta Pi Lambda Graduate Chapter.
Lauren McGowan is a dynamic Seattleite committed to ending hunger, homelessness and the cycle of poverty. She is the Associate Director of Ending Homelessness at United Way of King County in Seattle, Washington. She began her career at United Way as an AmeriCorps VISTA in 2004 and was later hired to manage the Earned Income Tax Credit Campaign. Lauren has had the opportunity to lead United Way’s Asset Building Programs and the investment of $10 million in Housing and Homelessness grants. Most recently she led the development of United Way’s Response to Basic Needs, a strategic response to the economic downturn and the development of the Hunger Free King County Initiative. Lauren joined the Solid Ground Board in 2006 and has been Board President for three years. Lauren is also the Board President of Springwire, formerly Community Voice Mail National. She participated in the 2010 Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute and was a 2009 Institute for a Democratic Future fellow. Prior to joining United Way, Lauren worked in Boston on advocacy efforts with the Immigrant and Refugee Community and statewide political campaigns.
Janel Ostrem earned a Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Sciences & Law and Women's Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Washington School of Law in 2006. Both before and during law school, Janel worked for several different nonprofit legal organizations in Seattle including the Unemployment Law Project, the King County Bar Association and the Innocence Project Northwest. While in law school, she also served as Co-President of the Public Interest Law Association. Janel currently represents individuals in family law matters as an attorney at Seattle Divorce Services in Ballard.
Matt Rorabaugh is an Estimating Specialist in the aerospace industry, assessing prices of purchased parts for future products and generating data for the company business plan. He has worked extensively with domestic and international suppliers and has developed, documented and improved processes associated with supplier relationships, cost models and office tasks. He has volunteered locally as youth leader, tutor and sports coach, and internationally with orphanages, school development, feeding programs and centers for child abuse survivors. He maintains ongoing affiliation with international nongovernmental organizations and has helped develop fundraising strategies for friends engaged in nonprofit work. He is actively involved in a faith community that draws from the Eastside, north King County and south Snohomish County. Matt holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Puget Sound and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Washington.
Patricia Ryan is General Manager of Field Enablement for Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector organization where she is responsible for leading specific field projects that have business and customer impact on Microsoft’s global sales in Government, Education and Health institutions around the world. Prior to joining the Public Sector team, Patricia was general manager of Microsoft’s PacWest Enterprise Sales District, where she managed the sales, marketing and systems engineering organization serving Microsoft’s top Enterprise customers in the Pacific Northwest. Patricia has over 20 years of experience in the information technology industry. Previous to Microsoft, she was the vice president of worldwide sales for WRQ, a Seattle-based software and services company. She also spent time living overseas serving as general manager of WRQ Europe in Den Haag, Netherlands. Before joining WRQ, she spent 13 years at IBM where she held a variety of management, sales and technical roles. Patricia earned a BA in communications from Stanford University. She lives in Seattle with her son, Cameron.
Barbara D. Sykes holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Morris Brown College. She had the opportunity to complete three years of naturopathic medical education from Bastyr University before withdrawing to enjoy raising her daughter (who is a senior at University of Washington). Her areas of interest are community and public health education, and community outreach and empowerment. She has worked at Morehouse School of Medicine, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and currently works at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. She also volunteers with various organizations (Pike Place Market Foundation and Bold Hat Productions). She is embarking upon new adventures this year and looks forward to staying involved in the community.
Chris Villiers is a Director of Communications with The Boeing Company. He leads a team that provides communications counsel for a broad range of issues including environmental affairs, employee safety, protecting intellectual property, finance, human resources and R&D strategy. During the past 24 years, he has served in similar positions at Safeco Insurance and Rainier National Bank/Security Pacific Bank. A former newspaper reporter, Chris is a graduate of the University of Washington, where he studied journalism and creative writing. Chris lives in Bothell with his wife and daughter.
Address: Solid Ground
1501 North 45th Street
Seattle, WA 98103-6708