Finalist Candidates for Executive Director of Equity & Inclusion


Mari Acob-Nash, PhD


head shot of Dr. Mari Acob-Nash, finalist for EDEI

Dr. Maria Angelica (Mari) Hoakaleinani Acob-Nash’s career in the Washington State community college education system spans more than 29 years. She has worked in progressive roles at Edmonds Community College, North Seattle College, and Cascadia College, and she is currently the Associate Vice President for International Education at Skagit Valley College. As a leader in International Education, Dr. Acob-Nash has worked closely with students, staff and faculty from a variety of diverse cultures and backgrounds. This exposure developed into a passion of embracing difference and appreciating diversity.  Dr. Acob-Nash’s roles created the foundation for her presentations and training sessions in intercultural competency and intercultural communication. Her recent work includes presentations on Asian-American Identity, Self-Identity and Power and Privilege, Putting Theory into Practice, Peace: International Peace Day and Inclusive Excellence. Specifically, Dr. Acob-Nash has been an integral member involved in community college diversity committees, strategic enrollment management, equity and inclusion strategic planning and Inclusive Excellence. She has served as the student advisor for the Student of Color Conference (of WA) for three years, a team member of the Multicultural Students Equity Justice Conference Committee (2016 to present), a board member of the Faculty and Staff of Color Conference (2015 to present) and a board member of the State Board of Community and Technical College Leadership Association (2016 to present). She spearheaded the development of employee resource groups and the Faculty and Staff of Color Affinity Group.  She is a recent graduate of the Social Justice Leadership Institute (Bellevue College, 2017).  Through her efforts and commitment to training others, Dr. Acob-Nash was awarded the Association of International Education NAFSA International Educator of the Year Award in 2011.

Dr. Acob-Nash is tri-cultural, a Filipina Canadian American. Each aspect of her identities play a part in her compassion towards others. She is a first generation immigrant. As a fierce woman of color, she is also a wife, mother, a community college graduate, a Pacific Islander culture student and dancer/storyteller in Hula, Tahitian and Maori, and a life-long student.  She utilizes her experiences of being raised in a trilingual, deeply religious and strong family beliefs, steeped in honoring ancestral teachings in her work with diverse students.

She is proud of the fact she was able to navigate the education system as a woman of color.  She graduated from Edmonds Community College (AAS), University of Washington (BA), Western Washington University (MEd) and Oregon State University with a doctorate in Community College Educational Leadership (PhD).

Along with her professional accomplishments, Dr. Acob-Nash’s most privileged honor has been her 30 year marriage to her husband, Tom, and providing guidance in raising her two successful daughters, Amia and Monica.

Iisaaksiichaa Ross Braine

head shot of Ross Braine, finalist for EDEIIisaaksiichaa (Good Ladd) Ross Braine is the University of Washington Tribal Liaison and Director of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ - Intellectual House located on campus. He a citizen of the Apsaalooke (Crow) Nation and descendant of the Tsitsistas (Northern Cheyenne), both located in the state of Montana. He is also a member of the Biglodge Clan and Nighthawk Warrior Society.

He created and facilitates the annual UW Tribal Relations Strategy with senior leadership and also leads the wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ - Intellectual House team. He was integral to the feasibility study, stakeholder outreach, fundraising, design, and operation of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ.

His true passion, however, is student success. You can find him mentoring and growing student leaders and professionals in his office, where he always keeps the door open. He collaborates often with faculty throughout academia on publications, research, and lectures.

Iisaaksiichaa Ross holds a BS in Forestry Management and MS in Information Science all from the University of Washington.


John Eklof


head shot of John Eklof, finalist for EDEIJohn Eklof is a multi-racial Filipino American from Lakewood, Washington who knows firsthand the transformational power of an education. After a brief three-year stint of being a college dropout and ensnared in working one dead-end job after another, John saw his prospects for the future rapidly dwindling. He was broke. He was lost. He knew something had to change. This is when John made the best decision of his life by finishing what he started and deciding to return to school. Back in college, he discovered his two great loves of his life--social justice and his wife.

John became an active member on campus through performing spoken word poetry and advocating for marginalized students everywhere. He had finally found his calling. Now John holds both a Bachelor’s degree in American Ethnic Studies and a master’s degree in Multicultural Education from the University of Washington. He is a writer, educator, and community organizer. John’s passion resides in making the world a better place for the next generation to come.

He’s a dynamic keynote speaker with over ten years of experience being in front of an audience. In 2016, he delivered one of his most notable speeches to date, a TEDxTalk entitled, Calling Out Elephants. John has also written for local Seattle publications such as the International Examiner and the Seattle Globalist. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Foundation which is a community-based, nonprofit organization that trains and supports the leadership and civic engagement of Asian Pacific Islanders with a commitment to social justice, community empowerment, and public service.

He currently works in the Bellevue School District as a racial equity specialist where he strategizes with district leadership to close the achievement gap, provide support for students of color, and helps to actively create a more culturally responsive learning environment for all students. His favorite food is pizza. He’s left-handed. If he was stranded on a deserted island and could have only one album to listen to, he would choose Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt.