Meet Our Staff
Accomplished and effective leader, technologist, strategist, and advocate for transforming our culture to empower youth in STEM Robotics programs, with a focus on collaboration, innovation, teamwork, and gracious professionalism.
Lila Mowatt is the Director of Development & Community Relations at FIRST Washington, where she oversees all aspects of linking the organization to resources through donor stewardship, fundraising, and relationship building. Prior to FIRST WA, Lila was the Director of Philanthropy for Washington DECA. Lila has also held positions with the American Jewish Committee as Seattle Regional Director and with AIPAC in both Seattle and Houston. Lila earned her M.A. in History from the University of Haifa and her B.A. from New York University in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies.
Rob’n T Vazquez
Adrienne Collins became involved with FIRST in 2007 when her daughter’s high school started a robotics club. In 2010 she began coaching a FIRST Robotics Competition team where she developed a passion for working with students. In 2011, Adrienne joined the FIRST Washington staff as a part time program coordinator for FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition. She loves the way that FIRST can help shape young peoples lives in discovering a career pathway.
Jacque brings over 8 years of volunteer experience to FIRST Washington. As the Team Manager for her children’s hockey team she chaired the annual 2009 auction which helped to raise over $70 thousand for the Sno-King Amateur Hockey Association. She also has been very involved volunteering in FIRST Robotics competitions in a variety of roles like Pit Admin; Lead Queuer; Scorekeeper; Referee.
Mara is a Midwest escapee who’s lived in Washington for nearly 3 years. She got her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and History from Iowa State University, where she worked in community engagement and voter education on a number of local political campaigns. Since moving to Washington, Mara has worked as a Development Associate at the Washington Autism Alliance and EBC – Eastside Baby Corner. She is passionate about providing the resources kids need to live fulfilling lives, and believes access to quality, STEM education is an essential piece of providing education equity for all kids. In her free time, Mara likes to hike, camp, and cheer on the Seattle Storm.
Adrianna Miller is an experienced teacher who lives on the east side of the state. She has devoted her life to education and her community. Adrianna loves learning and is passionate about ensuring all students have a quality education that inspires them to continue a life of learning. She believes STEM education is the present and future of education and is excited to make quality STEM education available to more students. In her free time, Adrianna attends her children’s extra-curricular activities, reads, and enjoys the outdoors
Eric Van Buren
Eric VanBuren has been engaged with FIRST programs for over a decade starting as a parent and then mentor of his kids’ team and then moving into a FIRST Senior Mentor Role, helping new teams start their journey with FIRST. He is an incredible role model, always willing to help coaches/mentors solve challenges. In addition to managing FIRST Washington’s Fieldhouse equipment, he mentors an all-girls team at Holy Names Academy in Seattle.
Meet Our Board Of Directors
Christy Barwick has worked in finance and treasury for top multinational companies across multiple industries. She is an intellectually curious and proven finance leader with extensive experience in capital markets, Christy is a pioneer in the securitization of technology-related patent receivables. Christy is dedicated to supporting the women and girls in her community. For several years, Christy has been a leader in a professional women’s mentor circle, a volunteer for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, and Expanding Your Horizons. Christy has been recognized by the finance community, most recently the Adam Smith Award as the highly commended winner of Treasury Today’s Woman of the Year.
Jordan Charles is a Director and Deputy General Manager at Blue Origin where he leads the development of disruptive reusable rocket technologies. Jordan is an engineer and inventor at heart and holds a number of aerospace-related patents stemming from his work at NASA, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin. Jordan has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Duke University, an MS in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Jordan has a strong passion for improving DEI in STEM and a goal of making STEM careers more accessible to underserved communities.
Priya Sinha Cloutier is general counsel for Picnic Works, Inc, a technology company that is revolutionizing food preparation. Priya that an established leader in building strategies to support meaningful outcomes for technology companies. Deep experience in all aspects of intellectual property protection, strategy and law; and its intersection with product development and product commercialization. Priya has spent the last 25 years representing technology start-ups and emerging companies. She has a BSe and MSe in Nuclear Engineering; a MS in Mathematics, and JD .
Jamie Garza is a Veteran of the US Navy. When Jamie began his career after the Navy, he started as an Electronics Technician and Hardware Test Engineer. The technical background he gained, firsthand was invaluable when he eventually found his true passion which is working with people, business, sales, and services. He worked as a director in both sales and service organizations for more than 15 years.
Jamie built successful teams within those organizations utilizing his network of engineers and understanding business needs. Having technical depth in product development, consumer electronics, business, and a passion for sales, he can grow a successful team quickly.
He played a major role for companies in WA, one of which was nominated for the Fastest Growing Companies in WA state award. 2020 100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies #3- Fresh Consulting, 2019 Eastside Fastest-Growing Private Companies #1 – Fresh Consulting, 2012 #14 Inc 5000 Engineering Industry Nationwide – Nytec, and 2012 Fastest Growing Companies in WA, Nytec
Jamie’s philosophy is that “People come first because they are the driving force of our success and growth.”
Patrick Jenny is an independent entrepreneur, technologist and community leader focused on increasing diversity and access for STEM education. He was previously an executive with F5 Networks Product Development. He was responsible for worldwide engineering operations and overall customer satisfaction. He is a proud graduate of the University of Washington with degrees in Computer Science and Biology (focus on molecular and cellular biology).
Doña Keating is President and CEO of Professional Options LLC, a strategic leadership and management consulting firm which serves SMB to Fortune 100 businesses, nonprofit and non-governmental organisations, and governmental agencies. She is also principal and Managing Partner for K2 Strategic Solutions and SVP/Chief Operating Officer for Keating Consulting Service, Inc. Keating is a co-founding member and former president/strategic advisor for West Sound Technology Association, co-founder of West Sound CoderDojo, a former FIRST Robotics mentor, a Voices for Innovation Advisory Task Force alumni, a Cybersecurity Tech Accord founding member, and an Ethics Board member for The City of Bainbridge Island. An author and speaker, Keating has also served on or chaired numerous boards and committees focused on STEM, K-16 education, gender equity, privacy, cybersecurity, business, telecommunications, economic development, and technology.
Claudius Mbemba (mem'buh) is CTO & CoFounder @ neu (useneu.com). A Speaker & Tech Entrepreneur who advises early-stage founders and aspiring entrepreneurs using the tips and tricks he's learned along the way. He has a background in software engineering having previously worked as a top software engineer at Microsoft on Outlook, Cloud, Bots, and Emerging Technologies. Along with his CoFounder @ neu, Claudius was nominated for the GeekWire Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2020) and graduated from the Techstars Seattle Startup Accelerator. Claudius holds a Bachelors in Computer Science from The Ohio State University. Played D1 NCAA Football at his alma mater. And now sits on the Ohio State University Alumni Board of Seattle. He has a long history and passion for entrepreneurship having started entrepreneurship-focused student orgs, organized Startup Weekends, and founded 2 startups while he was in college. Claudius has been invited to speak to everyone from University students to CTOs/Engineering Executives at the Nasdaq in NYC. He is passionate about raising the number of marginalized people (BIPOC, Women, LGBTQIA+) in Tech & VC by paving the way, holding the door open, and paying it forward. Claudius believes the most important thing to do, is just get started. His personal motto is, "The sooner you start, The sooner you finish." He even has this tattooed on his arm! And in code, no less!
Viplav Mishra is the CTO at USAFacts, a civic initiative to provide our citizens with more access to public government data. He also co-founded Globalwarming.com, a project aimed at providing education and empowering discussions in the fight against global warming.
Viplav has spent the past decade managing various engineering groups at mid and small-sized companies like Amazon, Porch.com, and USAFacts. He has a passion for solving complex problems through investment in people. In his free time Viplav enjoys woodworking and spending time with his dog.
Viplav is an immigrant from India. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Bioinformatics from JUIT, India, and an MS in Computer Engineering from the University of Florida.
Carol M. Olsby, Author, MS, GPHR, GRP, CCP, SCM-SCP is a senior-level global and domestic human resources leader with over 25 years of experience leading, designing, and implementing progressive domestic and global HR strategies and programs for US and international global companies. Carol is the Managing Director of Carol Olsby & Associates, Inc. a consulting firm servicing clients located throughout the world. Prior to starting her consulting firm, Carol was Tieto’s Global HR Director – Americas & Asia where she led their high-growth Asia and North America expansion resulting in employing 2,500 new employees in her region in four years. Tieto a European software company and Microsoft partner with over 20,000 employees globally operating in over 30 countries. Carol has held HR leadership positions with Bainbridge Networks, WesTower, and Universal Avionics.
Rami Rafeh has always had a passion for healthcare and STEM education. Rami currently serves as the Vice President of Provider Strategy & Collaboration at Premera Blue Cross, where he spends time making healthcare simpler and easier for patients. Prior to Premera Blue Cross, he worked for a variety of other healthcare companies such as Healthfirst and Pfizer.
Rami has spent the last decade serving on a variety of different engagements within the healthcare and start-up space. In addition to First WA’s board, he currently sits on Sound Health’s Board as well as the advisory board for Opala Health. He’s also served on advisory boards and in mentorship programs. Recently relocated from New York City, Rafeh was happy to trade the hustle and bustle of city life for the greenery of the Pacific Northwest.
Kevin Ross is changing the lives of K-12 students across our state. While working as a senior design engineer at Microsoft, Kevin became concerned that enthusiasm seemed to be declining among entry-level engineers that are fresh out of college. While book-smart, they lacked passion. Around the same time, he began volunteering as a mentor for a high school robotics team as part of the nationwide FIRST program. In 2002 he founded FIRST Washington, which focuses on inspiring K-12 students to become science and technology leaders.
Susan is a seasoned general manager and leader who has lead businesses for global enterprises like Amazon, Mars, Campbell Soup and PepsiCo. Most recently, she led Amazon’s European fashion business based in London before coming back to Seattle. Susan joined FIRST Washington to pursue her passion for encouraging more girls and underrepresented minorities to pursue technology educations and careers. Volunteering for FIRST Washington, she hopes to inspire the next generations to embrace careers in technology and to create a more diverse environment.
Tami Schwartz is the Sr. Director, Systems Engineering at F5, Inc. She is a Senior Development and Operations leader with 20+ years of systems development, test, and operations experience. She is also the Executive Sponsor for F5 Product Development Community Outreach Program- Her passion to develop, mentor and recruit University students through this program has led to hiring both interns and full-time students into their first professional engineering positions. She also continues to lead internal programs to hire women engineers and develop them into both technical leaders and managers. She believes that FIRST Washington is critical to encouraging young students to be involved in STEM to become our future engineers and programmers.
Rob Short is an effective and strategic volunteer who works closely with organizations that have bold visions and ideas to bring effective change. His passion for STEM education and getting industry and educators working together for Washington State students is what motivates Rob in giving of his time to FIRST Washington. Prior to becoming a volunteer and social and startup investor, Rob was a Corporate Vice President with Microsoft for 19 years where he leads the Windows Core Technology Team. In addition to FIRST Washington, Rob is active with the University of Washington, Equal Opportunity Schools, and Woodland Park Zoo.
Bob Strasser is a strong senior technical R&D leader with real-world experience in creating and operating highly effective product development teams. Bob has a passion for people development, and for enabling opportunities for people to realize their full potential. He believes being engaged with FIRST Washington is an excellent avenue to give back and provide support, encouragement, visibility, and connection to both help students grow and compete successfully but also to realize a greater vision for their own gifts and ambitions.
Mary- Pierre Waiss
Mary-Pierre Waiss is an experienced Corporate Director, CEO and senior executive with a strong track record of success in growing companies. She is an accomplished entrepreneur, organizational leader, and board member with a demonstrated track record of success helping biotechnology and life science organizations maximize their market potential. She has repeatedly developed strategies in early stage companies and achieved results through collaboration and management of employees and board members. Her extensive knowledge of the healthcare user and buyer, provider networks and practices enable strategies that develop new markets and models. These strategies have included capital raises and use of debt as well as developing products and teams.
Mary has been recognized throughout her career for a deep combination of both business acumen and clinical medical credentials—including expertise in the medical imaging space and the development of innovative, disruptive business models to improve healthcare access. Well-versed in all cross-functional business functions including sales, marketing, operations, IT, and finance—combined with an extensive network of industry contacts and history of leading fundraising efforts among the angel investing and VC communities.
Board Experience Highlights
- Broad and deep understanding of the intersection of technology, life sciences and industry.
- American Heart Association
- Took on pro bono leadership role to promote its signature women’s initiative—Go Red for Women—aimed at building a comprehensive platform to increase women’s heart health awareness and improve health outcomes for women globally.
- Precision Image Analysis
- Chairman of the Board
- Recruited diverse and highly accomplished board members with specific expertise
- Monitor Mask
- Worked with leadership team to position the company for acquisition by Salter Labs
Mary resides in Kirkland with her husband, Tom, of 38 years and their beloved labradoodle, KonaCoco. Outside of her corporate and volunteer roles, Mary enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, golfing, skiing, hiking and travel.
Dee Dee Walsh
Dee Dee Walsh, VP of marketing and business development and Mobilize.net, has spent her entire career in technology and has a long list of business products within Microsoft. Her software community roots run deep. She ran product management and marketing for ButtonWare, the first shareware company. Dee Dee served on the Washington Software Association (now WTIA) Board of Directors for many years.
Clayton Wood serves as CEO and President of the innovative automation company, Picnic. In this role, he oversees the strategic direction of the company and engages with the company’s partners, customers, and investors. Prior to joining Picnic, Wood served in C-level roles for a range of technology growth and startup companies between 2006 and 2018, including CEO at Synapse Product Development, President/COO at XZERES Corp, and COO at iUNU, Inc. He worked at Honeywell Aerospace for 12 years including running the industry-leading Flight Data Recorder Business Unit from 2000-2005. Wood earned his MBA from University of Washington Foster School of Business in 1998, and a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University.