New Faces: RARE Welcomes New Board Members!

/ July 6, 2024

Our New Faces feature returns to announce recent additions to RARE’s Board of Directors!

Michelle Fields

Michelle was born and raised in Seattle’s Central Area, where she continues to reside as a proud homeowner and community member. She has always had an interest in multicultural diversity, attending Eckstein Junior High and Roosevelt High Schools as part of the groundbreaking Voluntary Racial Transfer Program (VRTP).

Michelle Fields joins RARE’s Board of Directors

From a young age, Michelle had a desire to work in the criminal justice system. Becoming a teen mother in high school sharpened her determination to reach that goal. She graduated from Roosevelt in 1972, balancing parenting with earning a Bachelor of Arts in Community Service with a Certificate in Alcohol Studies from Seattle University. She earned her Master of Arts in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix (Seattle), overcoming numerous obstacles along her journey.

Michelle’s 40-year career began at the King County Adult and Juvenile Detention (DAJD), as the first Black female Jail Aide in Food Services. She continued to advance in her career as Corrections Officer and Sergeant; and ultimately became the first Black female Corrections Captain, a position she held until her retirement in 2018. Throughout her tenure at DAJD, she was recognized for her friendly, positive attitude; conflict management and resolution abilities; supervision, leadership, team management, and interpersonal communication skills. Michelle’s real career trademark was recognizing the humanity of the incarcerated individuals, which improved morale and reduced negative outcomes within the jail environment.

She brings these passions and skills to RARE in the spirit of continuing her work towards racial and social justice. Michelle is active in the community, serving on the Black Law Enforcement Association of Washington (BLEAW) organization, as a member and recently as the secretary. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors, she currently serves on RARE’s Connections and the Restorative Justice committees. Michelle enjoys reading, music, line dancing, traveling and spending time with her daughter, grandson, and son-in-law.

Allynn Ruth

Allynn joins the Board of Directors with passion for excellence in education and expertise in budgeting, project management, program development and grant administration to support RARE’s mission and racial equity programming. She has served on the Scholarship & Awards committee since the program’s first year.

Read Allynn’s own comments below, noting her path of connecting with RARE as well as her professional acumen.

Allynn Ruth joins RARE’s Board of Directors

I have extensive experience in budgeting, finance, policy analysis, grant development and grant management.  I have served on the board of several grant Programs both public and private.  I have also served on two scholarship committees (Southside Church of Christ and the Southeast Chapter of Blacks in Government). Although I am proud to be a graduate of Garfield High School, I attended Roosevelt in 1969-70, during my junior year of high school. At that time, I remember being told that it was the #1 public high school in the state. I was part of the voluntary bussing program and chose to return to Garfield to graduate. The late James Davis was a good friend of mine beginning with our days at Washington Junior High. I am also close friends with Joe Hunter, Stella Britt, Lynn Hayes and others who are Roosevelt grads. I can think of no better way to honor James, and to continue the legacy of excellence in education, than to work towards helping deserving students graduate from college.

Seattle City Council – September 1975 – April 1984.  During that nine- year tenure I was the receptionist for 3 years, administrative assistant to Councilman Paul Kraabel for 1 year and a Legislative Assistant for the last 7 years. As a legislative assistance I clerked three council committees, reviewed and made funding recommendations for major City Departments including Seattle Center, Police, Engineering and others. I also drafted legislation, did extensive policy analysis, and represented my council member at a number of public and private meetings.  Maintaining confidentiality, the ability to prioritize and manage several complex and highly political issues at once was a mandatory requirement for the position.

Department of Community DevelopmentOctober 1984- December 1989.  I worked as a Neighborhood Planner for approximately five years, and I assisted several target neighborhoods in long range planning efforts relating to public safety, transportation, and public space issues. I also worked to implement the new School Departure Process that established an intensive public engagement process for the expansion or major change of use of School District Properties in residential neighborhoods.

Department of Neighborhoods/Neighborhood Matching FundJanuary 1990 – December 2020.  I routinely managed and average of 35-40 diverse community- initiated projects.  Everything from the construction of Jimi Hendrix Park (planning, design and construction) to the annual Festival Sundiata Celebration. This included providing technical assistance to applicants through workshops, one on one assistance both virtual and in person.  I reviewed and rated applications, made funding recommendations and contracted with successful awardees. Additionally, our team made several updates to the program that resulted in greater community access to the grant dollars, especially for communities of color.

Department of Neighborhoods/Food Equity Fund – January 2020 – Present. Along with one other staff person, I took on the responsibility of designing and implementing the Food Equity Fund, a new grant opportunity within the Department of Neighborhoods. The Fund is supported by revenue from the Sweetened Beverage Tax.  There is approximately $3.5 million available to support community-initiated projects from primarily BIPOC organizations (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) who are interested n food justice work (growing, delivering, cooking or providing nutrition education) within the City of Seattle. This included writing program guidelines/policies, developing the application, rating criteria, working with the oversight board, and establishing the work program and timeline for the interdepartmental team. This work was accomplished over about seven months offering awards up to $75,000.  The second phase of the program offers funding between $80,000 – $150,000.