Our Story

Our trips began in 2014 as a class that brought together students, faculty, and members of the community for a pilgrimage to powerful historic locations in Selma, Montgomery, Jackson, and Memphis with Civil Rights foot soldiers like Bernard and Kate Lafayette, Bob Zellner, and Dr. Carolyn McKinstry.

In 2019, we gained 501(c)3 status as a nonprofit organization called Project Pilgrimage. Trips became more accessible to our broader community through scholarships, support of Black-owned businesses became a priority, and we also began meeting with modern day activists working in their communities.

Today, after 15 successful trips, dozens of engaging events, and thousands of lives impacted, we continue the work of inspiring everyday people to become everyday activists committed to our collective liberation.

The history of America resides within our collective memory through stories. Some stories that we have read or watched, others that we have only heard about. Many vital stories are hidden. For most of us, the version of American history we learn offers narratives consistently written by white people, centering white heroes. The truth is that there are a multitude of stories in our shared history and Sankofa Impact intentionally chooses to center the Black American freedom struggle.

The Black American freedom struggle begins the moment the first enslaved African touches soil in Virginia and wants to be free and that movement for liberation continues today. From our inception as a Civil Rights class with the University of Washington, we have focused on Black stories and that effort continues through our nonprofit work today. Many narratives of Black history, both traumatic and triumphant, have been either whitewashed, watered down, or entirely hidden. We find this unacceptable.

We recognize that many communities hold an endless set of profoundly important identities and that many of them experience a powerful harm in this country. Systemic racism and other forms of oppression are baked into our institutions and individuals are often tasked with overcoming challenges for simply being who they are. Our choice to focus on Black history is a strategic one that holds ourselves accountable to a set of stories that we believe are central in dismantling white supremacy. We work alongside many different communities and often that solidarity can be found in our work. We all must be free.

Our community is committed to fighting systemic oppression through the creation of collective historical memory, especially through the lens of the Black American freedom struggle. Sankofa Impact rejects the notion that centering Black history rejects other histories. We welcome all people in the timeless fight for justice and liberation. We are from different places, various class structures, education, spiritual beliefs, sexualities, genders, abilities, and we value each and every one of you committed to creating a better world.

Our Team

Felicia Ishino
Executive Director

Felicia brings over 20 years of experience in Seattle area schools, higher learning institutions, and nonprofits to her work at Sankofa Impact. She combines her loves of history, education, and social justice with her belief in the power of community. Felicia’s favorite teacher was Ms. Kim, who helped shape young minds into becoming compassionate leaders while an elementary school student at University Heights in Seattle. Felicia imagines breaking bread with Toni Morrison, over hot, buttery biscuits with jam that Morrison describes in the book, Beloved. Outside of work, Felicia enjoys discovering places to camp throughout the beautiful landscape of the Pacific Northwest, cooking for family and friends, and listening to the likes of Nina Simone, Jazmine Sullivan, Mac Miller, and Mos Def.

Amanda Castro
Administrative Coordinator

Amanda is proud to be a part of the team at Sankofa Impact. As Administrative Coordinator, she assists with Pilgrimage trip bookings, tech for virtual programs, and any other support the team needs. Amanda’s favorite teacher is her elementary school instructor, Mrs. David. Through her attention to detail and care for her students, Mrs. David demonstrated what it means to be an impactful teacher and caring person. Being an avid reader, Amanda would break bread with the author of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott. She imagines that the conversation would be rich and inviting. Outside of her work with Sankofa Impact, Amanda finds joy in doing craft projects, watching Marvel movies, and enjoying the company of her dog.

Nathan Bean
Community Relations Manager

Nathan wears a lot of hats for Sankofa Impact, including fundraising, programming, community relations, communications, and anything else the team might need on a given day. The goal is collective liberation and he is committed to any work that moves us closer to that goal. Nathan’s favorite teacher was Ms. Rief, who taught 8th grade Language Arts and was the first person to take his writing seriously and see him as more than just comic relief. Nathan would have liked to break bread with Otis Redding and maybe sing a duet for dessert. Outside of working hours, Nathan enjoys traveling off the beaten path, watching Boston sports, and spending quality time with his loved ones.

Tomieka Quinn
Learning & Impact Manager

Tomieka comes to us with over 15 years of experience working with Tacoma area schools, colleges and non-profit organizations. She is excited to bring her love of history and education to Sankofa Impact as she continues to work towards decolonizing liberation. Tomieka’s favorite teacher was Ms. Corazin, who taught high school History and helped Tomieka realize her love of research, examining the facts and seeking the truth. Tomieka dreams of breaking bread with Sojourner Truth and bell hooks having rich and lively discussions about love and black women’s rights and independence. Outside of work Tomieka enjoys spending time visiting parks and trails in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her family, sipping coffee and finding new recipes to cook.

Board of Directors

Sasha Duttchoudhury

Sasha works in the greater Seattle community and beyond to create learning experiences at the intersection of equity and well-being using mindful compassion and playful curiosity. Their approach holds emotions, stories, and culture as critical guides in navigating change systemically, interpersonally, and internally. Sasha’s work has spanned non-profit, higher education, philanthropy, arts, and community organizing contexts, offering clients a wealth of perspectives and connections across silos and disciplines. Sasha is currently a graduate student at the University of Washington School of Social Work. 

Sharayah Lane
Board Member

Sharayah is a member of the Lummi Nation with a background in journalism and policy. An alumnus of the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Washington, her current role is primarily focused on Philanthropy Northwest’s tribal broadband strategy, rural programming, corporate philanthropy and the Momentum Fellowship program. Throughout her career, she has collaborated with numerous sectors including federal and state government, tribal government, corporate, nonprofit and the philanthropic sector. She has been part of multiple Pilgrimage cohorts as a student and as part of leadership. When she is not working to change the world, Sharayah can be found lost in a book, reading or writing, and sharing in cultural teachings and exploring her homelands with her son.

Sharon Chism

Sharon Chism is the Senior Manager of Corporate Services with Russell Investments. Sharon believes in the power of equity-focused community engagement. The contributions that have been most impactful to her, involve knowledge sharing and relationship building that lead to the empowerment of others. Sharon is an active member of Black Girls Run! and Leadership Tomorrow. She is also on the steering committee for Russell Investments’ Black Associate Resource Group. Sharon holds an M.B.A from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida A&M University.  


Jay Patacsil
Board Member

Jerrell (Jay) Patacsil currently works in management and strategy consulting for Boston Consulting group (BCG). He has supported businesses in many different industries from Tech to Aerospace and Defense. Prior to BCG Jay worked at AT&T as a Program Manager. In this role he supported marketing and operations for the region. Jay was a student leader for the inaugural Race, Culture, and Business trip with Foster School of Business MBAs and Sankofa Impact. Jay has an undergraduate degree in business from the University of Washington as well as MBA from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. He looks forward to leveraging all of these experiences to support the mission of Sankofa Impact.

Kad Smith
Board Member

A self-described bay-destrian, Kad is a native of Berkeley, CA. His family hails from Texas and across the southern United States. Kad is passionate about racial justice, prison reform, civic engagement, and the liberation of all marginalized people across the globe. Today, he is a lead designer and co-facilitator of CompassPoint’s B.L.A.C.K Team Intensive and trains frequently in our public workshops. Having grown up in Berkeley, Kad has tried to live into his values around civic duty by showing up in roles as a City Commissioner on Berkeley’s Community Health Commission and Police Review Commission.


Rebecca Ballweg
Board Member

Rebecca is from a farming community in the Midwest and made Seattle home in 2021. She believes in the necessity of internal reflection to challenge community structures and is energized by direct action. In her current role at Community Attributes, a Seattle-based economic consulting firm, she helps communities find pathways to grow equitably and sustainably through economic development and urban planning. In the past, she worked on public policy in Wisconsin with a focus on justice systems. Rebecca holds an MBA from University of Washington and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin. She resides in White Center and enjoys skiing and board games with friends and family.