Michelle Y. Merriweather
President and Chief Executive Officer
Michelle Y. Merriweather joined the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle team in August of 2015 as the Vice President. Her passion is combining her extensive sales, fund development, event planning and marketing background to better the communities in which she serves. As a Los Angeles native, her dedication for the Los Angeles community and for being a voice for the voiceless, led her to volunteer for the Los Angeles Urban League. Her role grew from volunteer, to the first woman President of the Los Angeles Urban League Young Professionals and an active member of their board of directors. Prior to changing her career to follow her passion in advocating for African Americans and under served communities she had a successful career in sales and marketing with major organizations such as Starbucks, Heinz, and Coca Cola. In February 2018, Michelle became the 13th President of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. “I am not anxious to be the loudest voice or the most popular, but I would like to think that at a crucial moment, I was an effective voice for the voiceless, and effective hope for the hopeless” a quote by civil rights leader Whitney M. Young is Michelle’s mantra as she leads the organization towards its 90th anniversary. Michelle is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing.
Chief Financial Officer
Ms. Rassaian is the Chief Financial Officer of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. Since joining ULMS in 2007, Ms. Rassaian has established herself as a champion for efficiency and improved internal process. She has established strong financial and accounting procedures and improved documentation of data flow resulting in improved internal controls. Ms. Rassaian manages all accounting functions including grants and leases, and prepares monthly and year- end financial reports in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for internal and external users. Holding a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Tehran, Ms. Rassaian has significant breadth of experience working in various accounting and auditing capacities at different companies including the international Whinney Murray & Company (now known as Earnst & Young International).
Director of Housing
Linda Taylor currently serves as the Housing Director for the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS). Ms. Taylor joined ULMS in 1998 as a Housing Counselor, responsible for Pre-Purchase Counseling and now directs the ULMS Housing Department which includes six Housing Specialists who coordinate counseling in the areas of: Faith Based Financial Education, Mortgage Default which includes modifications, Budget Development, Credit Enhancement, Pre-Purchase Education, Rental Assistance, Transitional Housing, Reverse Mortgage and Expungement of Criminal Records. In 2007 the department was awarded a statewide grant to assist families from the Gulf States displaced to Washington State by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Under Ms. Taylor’s leadership, ULMS staff have assisted over 2,000 new neighbors throughout Washington State and to date, the Department has received over 300K to assist families facing foreclosure, these monies are used as recoverable grants in the City of Seattle and King County. Ms. Taylor’s credentials are extensive including direct management of a 27-person real estate office where she was responsible for training agents, packaging loans and conducting First-Time Homebuyer Classes. She is a licensed Washington State Real Estate Professional holding certifications from the National development Council as a Housing Development Finance Professional, HUD Housing Counseling from Neighborworks, and as a Real Estate Instructor from Washington State enabling her to teach required continuing education classes to licensed real estate agents.
Workforce Development Director
Augustine J. Cita is Workforce Development Director of Career Bridge which operates through the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. He worked in the trades as a Master Journeyman installing Marble and Stone for over 16 years, through Local #1 (BAC) in Washington. Augustine was promoted to a foremen position, and in 2003 became Senior Project Manager at a commercial flooring company in Seattle by netting large scale construction projects.
In 2006, things took a turn for the worse, and Augustine was sentenced to over 7 years in prison. With strength, a resolute faith, and a determination, to turn things around, Augustine began to focus his attention on what he terms as “change, from the inside out.” In prison, he began working for Edmonds Community College helping inmates to acquire their G.E.Ds, and teaching basic computer skills. He established what came to be known as the “Round Table Meetings” using group dynamics to help inmates with self-esteem enhancement. The Round Table Meetings morphed into what would later be called the “Ready 4 Release” class at Monroe Correctional Complex. It was the first of its kind in Washington's prison system where inmates could work to help other inmates without any outside sponsor or supervision. Augustine facilitated the Ready 4 Release class for 31/2 years, and touched the lives of over 250 inmates.
In April, 2014, Augustine was hired by the Urban League as a Program Navigator/Case manager, and facilitator for the Career Bridge program. After successfully completing six Cohorts, including one at Monroe Correctional Complex, he was promoted to Workforce Development Director. Today, Augustine works as an independent contractor teaching reentry at Monroe Correctional Complex. By helping to make Career Bridge an accredited program, Augustine was hired as a faculty member at South Seattle College. Today, Augustine is a part-time student at South Seattle College working to obtain a degree in Accounting. He and his wife Zakiya Cita have also founded an organization called “A to Z” assisting men and women who face multiple barriers in their lives. When asked, why he walked away from the trades to do the work he does now, he responded “this is where I belong—it’s where I’ve always belonged…”
Jerry Petty Sr
Education and Youth Services Director
Jerry, a Seattle native, began his career working with “opportunity youth” when he was just 17 years old as a little league basketball coach for the Rainier Community Center and as a camp counselor in the summer. He discovered then, that he destined to support and empower youth. In 2005 Mr. Petty became a supervisor at the Truckee Meadows Boys and Girls Club in Reno, Nevada as the clubs Teen Director.
In 2007 Mr. Petty returned home to Seattle and began working for the Renton/Skyway Boys and Girls Club as their Teen Director to build up their numbers and his community. He implemented various programs, and started the Renton Skyway Basketball (RSB) program with funds donated by Ray Allen and the Seattle Supersonics. The RSB program was focused on the educational portion of being a scholar athlete as well as emotional and cultural enrichment.
After two years with the RSB program the club grew from just two teams (25 student athletes) into 5 teams (60+ student athletes), which far surpassed the capacity of the club, which cause the Boys and Girls Club of King County to move Mr. Petty and his programs to the Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club (their flagship site) as the Athletic Director. As the Athletic Director for the RVBGC Mr. Petty emphasized the importance of education and knowledge by hiring tutors for youth in his athletic programs, and having community leaders come in to mentor the youth about the importance of education and community awareness. Mr. Petty ran the athletic department for 5 years at RVBGC creating partnerships with the University of Washington, Seattle University, Seattle Central Community College, Microsoft, The Jamal Crawford Foundation, The Brandon Roy Foundation, Baden Sports, and procured over $1.2 million in resources for the youth and education department for the RVBGC.
In 2012 he joined the Seattle school district as an Instructional Assistant and the Head Boys Basketball coach for the Cleveland Eagles. Continuing his life’s calling to empower young men and women of color to seek and attain their highest potential, he joined the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle as the Education and Youth Services Director and Program Coordinator for the Breakfast Group’s Project M.I.S.T.E.R. in 2016.