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Welcoming OSE’s 2022 New Hires

OSE is thrilled to have added seven new talented staff members in 2022, including our Director, Jessyn Farrell! We are excited to have these new members on board and look forward to working together to bring our city toward a more sustainable, equitable, and carbon-neutral future. Take a moment to get to know them by reading their bios presented below in alphabetical order:

David Benedict, Communications Intern

After spending a decade brewing beer in Seattle’s craft beer industry, the pandemic inspired David to pursue a career change and return to school. In March 2022, he left his job at Seapine Brewing to focus on developing his skills and explore new career opportunities. In November 2022, David accepted the Communications Internship at OSE and is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to OSE’s efforts and values of climate justice while learning from the OSE team.

Growing up in South Carolina and finishing undergrad in Tennessee, David has lived in Seattle since 2011 and considers the PNW home. Along with OSE’s internship, he is finishing school, working on freelance writing and editing projects, and working part-time at a craft beer establishment in White Center. In his free time, David enjoys playing music, seeing live music, playing outside, and attending too many baseball games in the summer.

Role at OSE: David is responsible for assisting in the creation and management of content for OSE’s communications, including social media, newsletters, and the Greenspace Blog.  He also helps with administrative tasks that support OSE’s teams and assists with various communications needs to promote OSE’s milestones and policy engagements. 

Allison Campbell, Transportation Electrification Specialist  

Allison grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she spent her youth hiking, singing, and doing musical theater. She earned her B.S. in Vocal Performance at Middle Tennessee State University, and after graduating, she moved to South Korea and taught English. She then spent three years in Taiwan, where she continued teaching English and sang in a jazz band. While living abroad, she also studied permaculture at an organic farm in Thailand and volunteered on farms in Taiwan and Kenya.  

She has since worked for various nonprofit organizations to support outdoor education programs in BIPOC and low-income communities in the California Bay Area and Western Washington, including a Montessori school and several Washington state prisons. She holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from Evergreen where she focused on Environmental Justice. Before joining OSE, she interned at Tacoma Power where she spearheaded the Energy Research & Development group’s equity efforts and managed low-income transportation electrification programs, including an EV charging pilot for multi-family housing.  

Allison recently fell in love with improv and will talk about it to anyone who will listen. She also loves her cat Tuna, true crime, and anything Brene Brown does. 

Role at OSE: Allison coordinates and tracks city-wide transportation emissions reduction goals, and is leading planning efforts to equitably electrify TNCs (Transportation Network Companies), for-hire, taxis, and car share vehicles by 2030. She also sits on OSE’s Change Team. 

Sara Cubillos, Climate Justice Advisor  

Sara is re-joining the Office of Sustainability and Environment after spending the last 4 years focused on embedding equity in drainage and wastewater Infrastructure planning at Seattle Public Utilities. She led the Visioning Phase of Shape Our Water, a long-range infrastructure plan for Seattle’s Water Resilience. Prior to Seattle Public Utilities, she was the Equity & Environment Program Coordinator at Office of Sustainability & Environment and supported the creation of the Equity & Environment Agenda. Her work at the city has focused on co-creating with communities who have been historically underrepresented especially in environmental investments and decision making. Sara also sits on the Board of Community Roots Housing, a local affordable housing developer. Outside of work you can catch Sara, her wife, Carolyn, and their dog Jax on long city walks going to all the local coffee shops and parks.   

Role at OSE: Sara will be leading Seattle’s Green New Deal work including –  collaborating with the Green New Deal Oversight Board, stewarding Green New Deal municipal investments, and working to advance the goals of the Green New Deal with multiple city departments. 

Jonathan Derkacht, Program Associate: Data & Finance

Prior to his time at OSE, Jonathan worked at the State of Washington’s Developmental Disabilities Administration serving in both finance and contracting positions. In his free time, Jonathan enjoys working out, the outdoors and on Sundays, you can always find him around the television watching Seahawks football games!   

Role at OSE: Jonathan is working in collaboration with the EJ Fund in developing systems and practices for the expansion of the team and helps streamline contracting and finance processes. Prior to this assignment, he assisted in a data and contracting role with the Fresh Bucks/Food Team at OSE.  

Jessyn Farrell, Director

Jessyn Farrell, J.D., is a leader in building public consensus on difficult issues related to the environment, housing, transportation, and the economy. A long-time environmental advocate, Jessyn served as a state legislator from the 46th District where she passed ground-breaking legislation on oil-by-rail safety, affordable housing near transit centers, education supports for low-income and homeless youth, protections for pregnant workers and restrictions to cell phone use while driving. As Executive Director of Transportation Choices, she led advocacy efforts resulting in billions of dollars in regional light rail investments. Jessyn is currently the Director of the Office of Sustainability and Environment for the City of Seattle, where she leads the City’s work to advance climate and environmental justice, reduce carbon pollution and build healthy, resilient communities. She has three kids, a dog, and is working on her first book. 

Role at OSE: Jessyn is the Director of the Office of Sustainability & Environment and is leading OSE and the City’s efforts to come together as One Seattle to advance climate justice and build healthy and resilient communities. 

Gurdeep Gill, Food Systems Design Fellow

Gurdeep (she/her/hers) is a second-generation Punjabi American. She is passionate about addressing inequities in our food system and empowering youth. During undergrad, Gurdeep had the opportunity to work with k-12 students in Seattle Public Schools to create space for students to have philosophical dialogue with one another. Through this experience, she heard how aware and wise youth are and learned the importance of listening to and centering youth voices, especially BIPOC youth. She committed to understanding our food system after connecting what youth had said about being unable to afford food and her own family’s experience of food insecurity. In previous roles, Gurdeep has supported the first Community-led Climate Justice policy section of King County’s 2020 Strategic Climate Action Plan, collaborated with CBOs to build their capacity at Baker Consulting, and supported Community-led food pantries in the South End during COVID-19. In her free time, she loves to paddleboard, hike, make pottery, play board games with friends, and go on walks.

Role at OSE: Gurdeep collaborates with community partners, youth, school staff, and the food policy and programs team to improve school meals at Seattle Public Schools so that they are culturally relevant, appetizing, sustainable, and source food from local BIPOC farmers. Gurdeep also engages with the community by going to Seattle Schools to talk with students about their fruits/vegetable/meal preferences, evaluate our Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program (FFVP), and share the info with Culinary Services to inform the menu. She also supports our School Meals and Food Education Work Group, comprised of community partners, SPS staff, and government staff, to improve school food experience for low-income and BIPOC youth.

Tracey Whitten, Transportation Electrification Program Manager

Tracey’s superpower is bringing people together toward a common cause and is excited to bring her skill set to our collaborative, interdepartmental Transportation Electrification effort! Tracey began her career as an organizer with labor unions, both the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of Teachers, leading and supporting campaigns focused on improving equity for childcare workers, improving working conditions for educators, and supporting progressive campaigns to improve our communities.  

Tracey then brought her skills to the world of tech where she became a sought-after program manager in technology companies and start-ups, focusing on how to spur early adoption of new products. 

Tracey served as a Commissioner with the Seattle Women’s Commission for six years, focusing on gender pay disparity, and volunteered as Vice President of Washington Bus. She has a B.A. in Organizational Communication with a focus on Legal Studies from the University of Central Florida and she lives in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle, with her husband Chris and their two children. 

Role at OSE: As OSE’s Transportation Electrification Program Manager, Tracey is focused on collaborating with internal departments and external stakeholders on a variety of strategies to decrease greenhouse gases while centering racial equity. Some of these strategies include pilot demonstration projects, designing incentive programs, and driving collaboration on the City’s overall electrification strategy.