FEEST Staff

Arista Burwell-Chen

Organizing Director, arista@feestseattle.org

Arista Burwell-Chen is the mixed-race daughter of a Chinese refugee, born and raised in Seattle’s Central District. Her experiences growing up in the Central District drive her desire to organize with communities of color for systemic change, particularly around food justice and gentrification.

Arista is passionate about organizing sustainably, and strives to bring a strong ethic of social generosity and community care to organizing spaces. She deeply believes in youth power and decision making, and feels lucky to get to support FEEST fellows’ creative brilliance and joyful movement building.

Outside of her work with FEEST, you can find Arista learning new songs on the ukulele, listening to adrienne maree brown and Autumn Brown’s podcast, How to Survive the End of the World, and dreaming up recipes for whatever fruits and veggies are in season at Lee’s.

Soy Dara

Youth Organizer, soy@feestseattle.org

Soy is the daughter of a strong Lao woman. Her and her mother immigrated to the United States from Na Pho refugee camp in Northeast Thailand, where Soy was born. 

They eventually settled in the Pacific Northwest. Planting their roots alongside other Lao diaspora and forming a tight knit community helping to keep Lao culture and traditions alive.

Soy comes to FEEST from a care giving background having been a professional caregiver for over 14 years. As a caregiver Soy honed her skills for cooking healthy and delicious meals. Soy is passionate about food and food justice. Her beliefs are that everyone should learn how to grow and harvest their own fruits, vegetables and herbs in turn having access to organic locally sourced foods. Soy is a firm believer in when people have the necessary tools and knowledge of how to sustain themselves it gives them the power to take on anything the world may throw at them.

In her free time Soy enjoys tending to her garden both inside and out. Soy’s house is filled with many plants and resembles a beautifully curated jungle. In addition to her love of plants she also loves keeping fish and frogs as pets. Soy has 10 community fish tanks and each tank has a beta fish who lives harmoniously with all the other lovely creatures and live plants. Her thumbs are definitely green.

Cece Flanagan

Youth Organizer, cece@feestseattle.org

Cece is a mixed Black Cherokee and White South Seattle local bringing three years of campus organizing experience at Western Washington University to FEEST. Originally starting college in Pennsylvania at Allegheny College, Cece’s experience transitioning from a low-income community of color to a rich, white, elite institution sparked their journey toward radically reimagining wholeness in a school context. Cece’s journey towards self-understanding and reclamation was greatly informed by their exposure to living a life of duality; being both Black and White, growing up both working class and with privilege, and exploring indigeneity while living under colonialism. Living life within two opposing worlds has fueled Cece’s passion to collectively imagine alternative spaces where queer, differently abled, and low income youth of color are joyfully whole.  

Cece is inspired by the radical understanding of self that today’s youth embody. They are constantly blown away by the work of youth of color, particularly Black youth, who are making their experiences known and demanding power.

In their free time Cece likes to ride their bike around Seattle, bake pies (strawberry rhubarb is their favorite), and make art on their porch with their friends. One day Cece hopes to become an avid kickboxer, a licensed tattoo artist, and learn how to successfully keep their plants alive.

Cilia Jurdy

Cilia Jurdy

Development Director, cilia@feestseattle.org

Cilia Jurdy was born and raised in Seattle; she has a deep love for her communities here. She comes to FEEST with over five years of development/fundraising experience and recently graduated with a Masters in Nonprofit Leadership from Seattle University. She is dedicated to centering diverse communities in fundraising and dismantling systems of oppression in development work.

Cilia was drawn to FEEST’s focus on healthy equity and youth organizing, especially school food. She knew she had to be involved after seeing how FEEST centered radical joy in all aspects of their work.

She is passionate about health equity, housing justice, food, cats (especially her cat, Matilda), art, and building community. In her personal life, Cilia is an avid reader, recently took up running, enjoys spending time with her friends and family, and loves a good afternoon nap.

Jaimée Marsh

Executive Director, jaimee@feestseattle.org

Jaimée found their happy place at FEEST — the place where joy, community, justice, and cheese intersect! They first tasted FEEST’s irresistible “Special Sauce” at Make Food Make Fam in 2017.  Since then, they transformed from volunteer to Board Member to Executive Director. Jaimée is a Seattle transplant from Spokane, WA, who specializes in community organizing, organizational leadership and development, and participatory evaluation methods. For over 15 years, they have applied this skillset to build community and shift power, particularly with trans and queer people of color. Jaimée is passionate about cultivating creative spaces that center radical joy and healing, and fostering sustained partnerships between schools and the community at large. Jaimée describes their most salient identities as black, multiracial, adopted, queer, and gender fluid. They are also a first-generation graduate of the University of Michigan (MSW) and University of Washington (BASW) Schools of Social Work. In their personal life, Jaimée is a curious home cook, a travel enthusiast, a decent iPhone photographer, and a former athlete turned fierce recreational sports competitor.

Mari Ramirez

Youth Organizer, mari@feestseattle.org

Identifying as a proud “Venecuir” (Venezuelan queer), Mari has found community with many people and places; with their family of origin currently residing in Venezuela, Spain, and Houston, with their chosen family, and with vibrant BIPOC and queer and trans community in Seattle. 

Mari studied psychology at the University of Washington, then moved on to work in the anti-violence field, supporting queer and trans survivors. She is deeply committed to violence prevention, transformative justice, and thinking about how we are always growing to be in loving community. He is now so excited to work at FEEST and learn about the intersections of food justice and violence prevention, as well as learn from the brilliant ways young people are building and shaping our futures. 

In their day-to-day, Mari lives as a facilitator of friendship and joy, a maker of music, a proud daughter and sister, and someone who gives care to their loved ones and greater communities throughout the world. When Mari is not serving this role in both their life and their work, they can be found dancing to Bad Bunny, playing the ukulele, reading comics, playing DnD with friends, and giving their loved ones hugs.

CiCi Schneider

CiCi Schneider

Operations and Finance Manager, cici@feestseattle.org

CiCi was born and raised in South Dakota, where their deep love of food, family, politics, and community led them to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector.  CiCi joins FEEST with three years of finance and operation experience from an international nonprofit focused on school meal programs. CiCi is very excited to shift their focus to more local efforts to serve the community around them. 

They are a firm believer that it takes a village to shape a person. Dozens of people have poured into CiCi and helped them become the person they are today. CiCi is passionate about paying it forward and supporting the next generation of youth leaders. Knowledge is power, CiCi loves the way FEEST gathers around food to work towards systems change. 

When CiCi is not working in Quickbooks or dreaming up a spreadsheet, CiCi enjoys soccer, disc golf, and spending quality time with friends. CiCi is an avid breakfast connoisseur and environmentally conscious consumer. 

Leigh Thomas

Communications & Development Manager, leigh@feestseattle.org

Leigh Thomas is a Black, queer artist who first encountered FEEST as a teenager participating in weekly dinners at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. Since then, they have continued to develop as an artist, community organizer, and storyteller. Leigh has worked for over a decade as a nonprofit communications professional, helping organizations better tell their stories and deepen connections within their communities.

Outside of work, Leigh is a musician, poet, cat parent, and Star Trek fan. They enjoy laughing with friends, eating blueberry pancakes, and trying out new fashion and makeup trends. Over the years, Leigh has spent time organizing around LGBTQ youth rights and racial justice through both grassroots and “mainstream” channels. They believe strongly in the arts as a tool for transformation and are committed to fostering community liberation and radical joy.

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GiveBIG to FEEST on May 4

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It's that time of year again. GiveBIG is coming! You can support our youth leaders by making a gift to FEEST on May 4-5. But you don't have to wait until then. You can make an early gift online today. And thanks to our generous Board, your donation will be matched up...

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