Ely Hernandez

Executive Director: Ely Hernandez, MSW (she/her)

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Originally from Mexico City, Ely came to the U.S. when she was 13 years old and grew up in Texas. She then moved to Seattle where she attended the University of Washington for her bachelor’s degree and then attended the University of Michigan for her master’s degree in Social Work.

As a queer, immigrant, woman of color who grew up in a working class family, Ely personally understood the challenges of her communities but was also able to experience the strengths, hope, resilience and successes. As part of her professional life, she spent almost a decade in clinical direct services where Ely continued to see the barriers that her communities had to wellness. Ely came to the WRA with the belief that the community should drive the work. She strongly believes in the WRA values about bringing lived experiences to decision making tables everywhere. Ely is extremely grateful to work alongside the recovery community to further pro-recovery policy and community education in order to fulfill the mission of the WRA: make recovery a reality for all.

Strategy Director: Lauren Davis (she/her)

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Lauren grew up in King County and first became passionate about behavioral health advocacy when she served as the primary caregiver to her best friend Ricky Garcia, who was gravely ill with untreated alcohol and opiate addiction, and unable to get the care he needed because of the way our system works. Today, Ricky is in long-term recovery.

When Ricky got better, Lauren got to work fixing the system gap that nearly cost his life. She championed HB 1713, named “Ricky’s Law,” which was signed by Governor Inslee in 2016. The legislation created an involuntary crisis commitment system for youth and adults with life-threatening addiction. Ricky’s Law represents one of the largest single investments in addiction treatment in Washington state history. Lauren was recognized with the 2016 Hero Award from the Washington Council for Behavioral Health.

Lauren helped found the Washington Recovery Alliance in 2014, and now serves as the Strategy Director. She is a strong champion for mental health and addiction recovery and reforming the criminal justice system. She is a Fulbright Fellow, and has the honor of serving as a State Representative for Washington’s 32nd District.


King County Recovery Coalition Director: Heather Venegas (she/her)

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Heather Venegas is a servant leader in long-term recovery, and has lived experience with both substance use and mental health. She is passionate about the transformative power of recovery and loves to help others experience the gifts that recovery has given her. Heather joined the King County Recovery Coalition as the first Director in 2018.

Heather is active in global service travel as well as being of service locally. She brings joy, creativity and compassion to all she does. Heather is a woman of many talents: she’s a skilled speaker, teacher, coach, and even an ordained minister! She has a Master’s Degree in Consciousness Studies from Holmes Institute. She is passionate about and deeply committed to our vision of making recovery a reality for everyone.

Operations Manager: Annika Browne, MSW (she/her)

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Annika is passionate about working behind the scenes to help great teams do great work. She is so excited to work every day with the amazing recovery community and everyone here at the WRA. A lifelong Washingtonian, Annika has worked in operations and administration for a variety of human service and policy organizations in the greater Seattle area, focusing on poverty, human rights, and behavioral health. She received her Master of Social Work in Administration and Policy Practice from the University of Washington.

Development and Communications Manager: Alexandra Flanders (she/her)

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Program and Events Manager: Tristan Seikel, MS (they/he)

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Tristan is a community organizer who has worked on both electoral and issue-based campaigns that support people who use substances, those in recovery, and policy change rooted in harm reduction. They have created several grassroots organizations around these issues and are thrilled to apply their community building expertise to help the WRA deliver engaging recovery events and programs across Washington state. Beyond advocacy, Tristan enjoys spending time in the many beautiful parks here in King County. They received their Master of Science in Applied Anthropology degree from the University of North Texas in 2020.

Program and Operations Assistant: Karen Wedekind (she/her)

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Karen is currently a student at the University of Washington, studying Integrated Social Sciences with a focus in Psychology. She is passionate about advocating for those in recovery from mental health struggles and substance use, and supporting positive public policy change. Karen loves supporting the WRA as an assistant in its mission to promote recovery for all.

Board of Directors

Melody Mckee, President (she/her)

Melody McKee, MS, SUDP, is the Program Director for the Behavioral Health Training, Workforce and Policy Innovation Center through Harborview Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Institute. She has worked in the Behavioral Health Field for 17 years. Melody is a founding member of the Washington Recovery Alliance and is a respected leader in both the behavioral health system and the recovery community. She participates in advocacy work at the local and state levels. Melody is a person in long-term recovery. She acknowledges her lived experience as the driving force behind her passion for improving the behavioral health system in Washington State.

David Coffey, Vice President (he/him)

David is the Executive Director of Recovery Café. He has guided Recovery Cafe’s programming with the Founders Killian Noe and Ruby Takushi for over 15  years. David also serves on the Mirabella Foundation Board, on the Fundraising Committee of the Food Bank at St. Mary’s, and is the Secretary of the Board Consejo Counseling Services. David is passionate about finding better solutions than incarcerating people for behavioral health disorders.

Jerri Stanley, Secretary


Paulette Chaussee, Treasurer (she/her)

Paulette Chaussee is a Financial Consultant who provides audit and grant compliance support to small Federally Recognized Tribes in rural Alaska. Paulette became passionate about Behavioral Health advocacy after her family experienced the acute SUD of a loved one, and learned how difficult, frustrating, and heart breaking it was to navigate the system. She jumped in with both feet to join the fight to get Ricky’s Law passed. Since then, Paulette has served as Public Policy Chair with the WRA and helped form the Pierce County Recovery Coalition. The words, “until my dying day” often come out of her mouth when she talks about her continued fight for those who struggle with Behavioral Health challenges and advocating for how our state addresses their needs.

Steve Daggett (he/him)

Steve Daggett, SUDP is a driven substance use disorder counselor in long-term recovery that lives to the ideal that recovery simply means “I am better today than I was yesterday and I am doing everything possible to be better tomorrow than I was today.” Steve’s creativity and energy combined with compassion and a strong desire to remind the recovery community that we don’t have to do this alone creates a network of caring and connection. After retiring from the Navy he stayed to continue his work with the Substance Use Disorder community. He is currently the clinical supervisor for the Substance Use Disorder programs at Sunrise Services, Inc, a Community based Behavioral Health provider in the North Sound area. Steve is also the Chairman of the Camano, Whidbey Island Recovery Coalition and Acting Chair of the North Sound Recovery Coalition.

Brad Finegood (he/him)

Brad Finegood, MA, LMHC, is Strategic Advisor at Public Health- Seattle& King County.  He oversees the public health response to substance use and overdose prevention.  In this role he recently served as a co-chair of the King County Heroin and Prescription Opiate Task Force. He received his bachelor’s from Michigan State University and his master’s in community agency counseling with a specialty in alcohol and drug abuse from Western Michigan University. Finegood has worked in the behavioral health field for 20 years in both substance use disorder and mental health. He has provided direct service in multiple modalities including prevention, outpatient, residential and medication-assisted treatment, both in institutions and the community. In November 2017, Finegood was named one of the thirty most innovative influential people in Seattle by Seattle Magazine. Most importantly, he is the sibling and survivor of a younger sibling that passed away of an overdose.

Michele Gerber

Michele Gerber (she/her)

Dr. Michele S. Gerber retired from the Hanford Site in 2011. Her research and writing supported many major cleanup projects, and she wrote the technical volume that resulted in B Reactor becoming a National Historic Landmark. She also provided the historical research behind a successful class-action lawsuit on health effects in Washington State. She authored a best-selling book that has been published in four editions, and has consulted nationally and internationally to multiple government and private entities. In retirement, she is President of the Benton Franklin Recovery Coalition. Her principal interest is in breaking barriers and creating opportunities for persons with Substance Use Disorder (or addiction), erasing stigma and educating about addiction as a disease.

Ed Petersen (he/him)

Ed is a retired Air Force Veteran of 23 years. He was a high school math teacher and then a high school administrator, both as an assistant principal and principal for six years retiring in 2012. He is a proud father of a son in long term recovery. Ed has been the President of the local non-profit Seattle Chapter of Not One More, working to raise overdose awareness. He is also a member of the Pierce County Opioid Task Force and a founding member of the Pierce County Recovery Coalition. Ed is passionate about educating our communities and finding ways to provide on demand access to treatment facilities and care.

Cody B. West (he/him)

Cody is the Chief Program Officer at Peer Washington and brings a wide set of experiences from the private sector ranging from Accounting & Finance, Human Resources, Training & Development, Employee Relations and Management. He has been active in the Seattle recovery community for many years, providing services as a volunteer, peer group facilitator, peer recovery coach, trainer and tree lot assistant manager. He enjoys empowering individuals to create and sustain a healthy living approach to their lives.

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