RARE Board Expands its Expertise!

/ February 2, 2024

This past year RARE welcomed several new Board members. Read in their own words why RARE is important to them; you can feel the passion! We are fortunate and grateful to have their expertise, compassion and dedication!

As noted in a separate blog post, RARE’s Board has experienced many changes recently.  This article spotlights only the 2023 additions to the Board.  Read the About RARE page to learn about all current Board members.

Michelle Hightower – Joined the Board January 2023

I was raised primarily in Seattle, WA and lived in the north-end throughout my childhood. Eventually I relocated to Houston, Texas. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Geography; as well as, Masters, Information Technology, Software Engineering. My career combines all my studies.

I’m passionate about youth and education; mental health; advocacy in domestic violence; those in need, e.g., food and clothes; and more. Except for a couple of nominally paid positions at non-profit organizations, I’ve volunteered and continue to volunteer at various organizations. I served on the Seattle Mental Health board and now I’m a board member for RARE.

Why RARE? I’m from Seattle and attended Seattle Public Schools and am a Roosevelt Alum (class of ’82). One of my classmates shared about the RARE organization. I later saw the documentary film and unfortunately could relate to it; honestly surprised to see similar racial inequities 40+ years later. I want to add value and be a vessel to institute change that eventually and positively impacts the country. This hits home even more as my husband and I raise our delicate daughters.

Leyla Salmassi – Joined the Board January 2023
I am passionate about promoting equity and justice in our society, particularly in my own community and my alma mater.

I believe that joining RARE is one of the ways for me to contribute to this important work already happening in our communities. I want to be part of a community of like-minded individuals who are dedicated to creating real, systemic change that will benefit future generations in our community, locally and globally.

Through my work with RARE, I hope to further hone my skills as an advocate and ally to advance the needs of our marginalized communities. I am committed to listening and learning from those whose experiences differ from my own, and I am eager to engage in meaningful dialogue with people from all walks of life. Ultimately, my goal is to help build a more inclusive and equitable world with a strong sense of belonging, and I hope to bring my experience and skills to help further the mission of RARE.

Michelle Osborne – Joined the Board April 2023
Michelle Osborne (RHS ’75) came to Seattle as a 6th grader and immediately began navigating the racial politics of the city and its public schools during the era of voluntary busing. Every school she attended was virtually all white – McGilvra Elementary (her neighborhood school), Wilson Junior High, Thompson Junior High, and Roosevelt. She had some great experiences at RHS, making friends for life, doing well academically, becoming a staffer on the literary magazine, and running cross country and track.

But she also had experiences that were harmful and overtly racist. One a serious example occurred in the spring of her senior year: her high school counselor admitted he had never bothered to send the required high school counselor forms to the colleges she’d applied to because he didn’t think Michelle was college material.

A graduate of Princeton University, Michelle received her law degree from UCLA. She is a former trial attorney who practiced in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and was a state court prosecutor who specialized in crimes of sexualized violence. She has served as the Race and Social Justice Manager of a large non-profit in Seattle, and directed a rape crisis center in California’s Silicon Valley.

Michelle has chaired the boards of several nonprofits and was an appointee to the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women and to the State Bar of California’s Committee on Women in the Law. She is now a board member of a Seattle-based law center which represents sexual assault survivors in court and administrative hearings. anecdotes about life at college in New York state.

Jessamyn Reichmann – Joined the Board July 2023
Jessamyn Reichmann is a second-generation Roosevelt Alumna (’16) and a native from the Central District of Seattle, Washington. Reichmann is currently the Host and Executive Producer of the podcast “Specimen the Sociologist.” A thought-provoking podcast where she unpacks the science and stories behind our everyday relationships.

Her curiosity on understanding the social fabric of our society, its relationships and the need for restorative practice policy has led her to serve as a RARE Board Member and Co-Chair of the Restorative Practice Committee. Beyond her years of service to her community-at-large, Reichmann brings a joyful and kind spirit to every one of her conversations.