Philanthropy Northwest Welcomes Three New Board Members

Philanthropy Northwest Welcomes Three New Board Members

New PNW 2021 Board Members Graphic

Philanthropy Northwest has an impressive and engaged board of directors, all of whom show up in different ways for our network and represent the diverse field of philanthropy in our six-state region. At our annual membership meeting in October of 2020, we proudly welcomed three new board members to our governing body. Read the new members' bios below.

New Board Members

Diana Birkett Rakow, Vice President of External Relations, Alaska Airlines (WA) 

Diana currently serves as vice president of external relations at Alaska Airlines in Seattle, leading communications, government affairs, environmental and social impact, and Alaska Airlines’ engagement within the major communities it serves. Prior to Alaska Airlines, Diana was the vice president of communications, public affairs and brand management at Kaiser Permanente. Previously she was also the executive vice president of public affairs and marketing at Group Health prior to its acquisition and the president of the Group Health Foundation. Earlier in her career, Diana worked on health policy for the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in Washington, D.C.. Diana has master’s degrees in both public administration and public health from the University of Washington and has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Harvard University. She is currently the board chair for the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce and serves on the board of the Pacific Science Center. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two young children.


Michelle Kauhane, Senior VP of Community Grants & Investments, Hawai’i Community Foundation (HI) 

Michelle is the senior vice president of community grants & investments at the Hawai’i Community Foundation where she oversees the organization’s discretionary grantmaking budget and private family foundation contracts. Michelle previously served as the president and CEO for the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, a member-based nonprofit organization with a mission to enhance the cultural, economic, political and community development of Native Hawaiians. Prior to that, she was deputy director of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, a state agency responsible for the administration of Hawaiian homelands, a 200,000-acre land trust set aside by Congress for Native Hawaiians. Michelle is a Native Hawaiian beneficiary of the Hawaiian Homelands Trust and currently resides on the Kaupe’a Homestead in Kapolei on Oahu.


Ernie Rasmussen, Tribal Liaison, Washington State Department of Commerce (WA) 

Ernie coordinates the Washington State Department of Commerce’s work with the state’s tribal governments and communities. Working alongside the 29 tribes that have called Washington their home since to achieve both common and unique community goals, his duties as a representative of state government focus on achieving equity across many disciplines, sectors and systems. Fueled by a lifetime of Indian Country engagement, his understanding of seventh generation principles are rooted in his upbringing and environment. This serves as the foundation for his work to extend communities toward sustainable inclusivity. He was formerly the senior planner of economic development with The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation where he played a key role in establishing the North Star Opportunity Zone, a regional collaboration among the Colville Tribes, Chelan, Douglas, Ferry and Okanogan counties. His prior experience includes coordinating federal programs on the Spokane Indian Reservation and Coeur d’Alene Reservation. He also served as executive director and network coordinator of the Empire Health Foundation-funded Spokane Tribal Network, working with the Spokane Tribe of Indians, Wellpinit School District and community leaders to initiate systemic positive health outcomes for all community membership. He earned a bachelor’s degree and is a m in urban and regional planning, both from Eastern Washington University. Ernie has lifelong roots in Indian Country, is a father of three beautiful daughters who are enrolled Spokane Tribal members, is married to a Spokane Tribal member and is an enrolled citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin.

We are fortunate to have these philanthropic leaders on our board who represent our organization’s commitment to supporting vibrant, healthy communities in our region. We look forward to working with them in the coming years.

Outgoing Board Members

We would also like to thank our outgoing board members for their distinguished leadership and outstanding contributions to Philanthropy Northwest and our network. We are grateful for their service to our work, the philanthropic sector and to the communities they continue to serve in the region.

  1. Jane Broom, Microsoft Philanthropies
  2. Antoinette Malveaux, Casey Family Programs
  3. Bill Thorndike, Northwest Health Foundation
  4. And finally, our past board chair, Kevin Walker, Northwest Area Foundation

Philanthropy Northwest Board Members

Chaired by Aleesha Towns-Bain of Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation, Philanthropy Northwest’s board consists of 24 leaders and represents our network of family funds, foundations and corporate giving programs in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. You can find the full list of our board members below.

Aleesha Towns-Bain, Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation

Vice Chair of Programs
CC Gardner Gleser, Satterberg Foundation and Charlotte Martin Foundation

Vice Chair of Board Operations
Elizabeth Ripley, Mat-Su Health Foundation

Nichole Maher, Group Health Foundation

Brenda Solorzano, Headwaters Health Foundation


Board Members
Susan Anderson, The CIRI Foundation
Lilliane Ballesteros, Latino Community Fund
Karen Bilowith, Idaho Community Foundation
Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska Airlines
Brian Boyd, Forest and Sequoia Foundations
Kelly Bruggeman, First Interstate BancSystem Foundation
Mark Dederer, Hohimer Wealth Management 
Mike Halligan, Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation
Kris Hermanns, Seattle Foundation
Erin Kahn, Community Leader
Michelle Kauhane, Hawai'i Community Foundation
Cat Martin, JPMorgan Chase 
Alex McKay, Rasmuson Foundation
Liz Medicine Crow, First Alaskans Institute
Jill Nishi, Community Leader
Ernie Rasmussen, Washington State Department of Commerce
Mary Rutherford, Montana Community Foundation
Doug Stamm, Community Leader
Huong Vu, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation