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Remarkable Women

These Kirklanders are doing amazing things, in the local community and beyond.

Have you ever thought about leading a nonprofit organization? Or running a marathon (or FIFTY)? How about writing a book? Read on to hear from phenomenal local women who have done these very things. You may be in awe of their accomplishments, or you may be inspired to take on your next big thing!

Patricia Charles-Heathers, Ph.D., MPA 

Chief Operating Officer - Friends of Youth

Born and raised on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, my father worked in law

enforcement and my mom was a stay-at-home mom and seamstress. I was raised with

the message that I could do and be anything I wanted if I applied myself.

What led you to work with youth in the nonprofit space? 

I have a passion for making life better for others. Local non-profit agencies play an integral role in ensuring the health and vibrancy of communities by providing easy access to services. Youth are our future and need to be supported and empowered so our future is brighter.

Describe your approach to leadership.

Relationship focused, strength-based and value-based. This entails hiring people for their expertise, ensuring they align with the mission, vision, and values of the organization. I’m a hands-on leader, always willing to roll up my sleeves

and get involved where needed.

Any advice for women aspiring to nonprofit leadership roles? 

Gain experience in a variety of settings to obtain a rounded approach to organizational

work. Know your values, seek out organizations that are in sync with your values, and

never compromise them. Know who you are, your priorities, and be solution focused and not crisis focused.

Jaya Ramesh, MA LMHC

A psychotherapist, she co-wrote the recently released book, Parenting at the Intersections: Raising Neurodivergent Children of Color

As a seasoned facilitator she provides support groups for parents and families and supports organizations in building anti-oppressive culture. Jaya is married with two kids and an aussiedoodle.

What inspired you to write this book?

When my child was diagnosed with ADHD, I looked to books and resources for support but found they did not address our experiences as a family with intersectional identities. The advice was not necessarily unhelpful but something about them left me unsatisfied. I did not feel seen in the complexities of our experiences as immigrant, Indian, neurodivergent parents in these resources. 

What do you hope that readers of your book come away with? 

We want parents at the intersections to know that:

- Parenting amidst systems of oppression is a Herculean task.

- You and your children matter and deserve goodness.

- You know how to love your child well.

- You are not alone in raising your child/ren, even if it may feel that way. There is a community out there who sees and gets your experience. You deserve that support.

- We invite parents into a Parenting Love Ethic which starts with treating ourselves with gentle care so we can extend the same to our children.

Priya Saaral, LICSW, RPT-S

Mother and play therapist, she co-wrote the recently released book, Parenting at the Intersections: Raising Neurodivergent Children of Color

Priya feels lucky to live and run her practice ‘Play It  Out!’ in Kirkland where she specializes in supporting the emotional wellbeing of neurodivergent and BIPOC children and parents.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was once a child at the intersection when there wasn’t much science and awareness about neurodivergence, and I struggled as a misfit within external systems that accepted only one version of a child: Well-behaved, obedient, and excelling. My parents being first generation immigrants were pressured to value this single version prized by society, and the pressure affected me. Writing this book was like writing a love letter to my younger self, assuring her that her struggles were valid. 

What do you hope that readers of your book come away with? 

We want non-BIPOC/ND parents and professionals reading to know:

-  You have immense opportunity and power to make this world an affirming place for children and parents at the intersections.

- Even with good intentions, you can unknowingly create harm. Treat yourself with gentleness and compassion as you navigate mistakes - they will happen!

- Know and trust that all parents - especially those at the intersections - know their children best and have the wisdom within for solutions.

Jennifer Schauer

45-year-old mom, wife, and Nurse Practitioner who achieved her goal of running 50 marathons - one in each state

I started running long distances in middle school in Ohio, and my high school nickname was "Machine," because I never got tired.

What inspired you to set such an audacious goal? 

Post-high school, I trained for the Columbus Marathon to keep running without the demands of being on a team. I did quite well and LOVED it. The following year, I did Columbus again and qualified for the Boston Marathon. In Boston I saw a few “50 State Marathon” t-shirts; I've always loved traveling, so combining my two passions and visiting every state while staying fit was the perfect goal. Running a marathon is an amazing way to see a city! 

You accomplished your goal this March in Hawaii, how do you feel? 

It’s surreal. It has been part of my life for 33 years - it’s just what I do. It’s CRAZY and AMAZING! There are a few more marathons I’d like to do, but I’m excited about focusing on some new fitness goals. 

I have so many emotions: Nostalgia, relief, happiness, grateful, blessed, accomplished, and excitement for what is next. After a goal that big, there’s got to be something new to focus on.

  • Schauer after her final race in Hawaii. Photo: David Moya
  • Photo: Maxine Tu Yip
  • Photo: Maxine Tu Yip
  • Photo: Maxine Tu Yip
  • Photo: Brad Curran Creative