Our all-volunteer Board of Directors is a diverse group dedicated to the mission and the vision of the VOPIN. We also value and depend on our volunteers through their heartfelt service to implement our mission and vision to meet our students, families, and community needs.
Patrick was born in the United States Territory of American Samoa and a proud alumnus of the Marist Brothers of Samoa. Growing up in Samoa, education was always a challenge due to his undiagnosed dyslexia. He left his beloved home and served a combined duty of twelve years, both active and reserve. He then settled in Washington State after leaving the military.
Patrick always believes that education is the equalizer of our society. He spent 25 years with the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention (DAJD) Juvenile Justice. At DAJD, he became very concerned with the downward spiral of academic achievement of Pacific Islander (PI) students in our state. He discovered the seriousness of this longstanding concern that overwhelmed his community for decades during his undergraduate studies at the University of Washington School of Social Work. Struggling to manage his learning disability, he was able to earn a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of San Francisco.
Patrick walked the talk and co-founded the “Voices of Pacific Island Nations (VOPIN),” a 501.c.3., a nonprofit org serving the Kitsap, King, and Pierce Counties Pasefika (Pacific) communities and the surrounding areas. VOPIN strives to address the educational and opportunity inequities for Pasefika students and their families. Patrick is VOPIN's Executive Director.
Patrick loves to share his culture and history with others and make others feel part of the community. “In our division, we allow evil to prevail. Only collectively, we shall rise above our fears and uncertainties!”
Jill Brenner is the Deputy Director and Child Development Manager at the Early Learning & Family Services Division for the Kitsap Community Resources (KCR). She currently resides in Silverdale but grew up in Tacoma, WA. She has been working in the education field for 30+ years, and her teaching philosophy and beliefs about student success align with the Mission and Vision of VOPIN. Her primary area of aptitude is in early childhood education.
Jill has multiple qualifications and teaches childhood development, social and emotional, and academic learning for young children. She also has experience in curriculum and instructions topics on anti-bias in early learning, NEAR (Neurology, Epigentics, ACES, Resilience) Science, truman-informed practices, including adult self-care and resilience.
Jill believes in the importance of family and is a proud mother of two daughters with her husband. She believes every child’s learning is rooted in their family, culture, community, and relationships built with teachers in schools. Jill believes that students need teachers to understand how they learn, including other parts of their lives, to succeed. In her work in education, she uses her voice as an advocate and help build bridges for relationships with school systems and other resources from the time a child is born until high school graduation and beyond. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology from Central Washington University and a Master in Education (M.Ed.) in Early Childhood Education from Lesley University.
Jill loves soccer and is a diehard Seattle Sounders fan. She also likes to travel, gardening, read, and cook, to name a few of her many hobbies.
Born and raised in Leone, Tutuila, American Samoa, Poasa attended Feleti Demonstration School, one of few or the only local school with a curriculum similar to the U.S. mainland school system. He graduated from High School of American Samoa, the highest education on the island, and left his homeland for San Francisco, CA, to further his education. The cost of higher education and the lack of resources available for him was a huge reality check.
Poasa realized the need to help his family back in Samoa, and with the ongoing military draft for the Vietnam War, he had a decision to make. His older brother, Fa’i (MSG Fa'aita), an Army Ranger, advised him not to join the Army. Hooyah! Poasa made his choice and joined the Navy.
The education Poasa longed for came not through classrooms, but from his military assignments and various travels around the world. When Poasa was asked what countries he visited during his military career, he responded, “Ask me where I have not been!” One of Poasa's memorable and favorite assignments was when he returned home to American Samoa as a Recruiter and Job Counselor for Navy Recruiting. In his over thirty years in the Navy, Poasa served over 18 years aboard ships, squadrons, and other sea-going designated commands. A Vietnam veteran with three tours, Poasa has the distinction of being the first-ever Samoan to achieve the Master Chief Petty Officer in the Navy. Poasa also was the first Samoan selected to the coveted Command Master Chief program. He is a graduate of the prestigious United States Navy Senior Enlisted Academy, Newport, RI.
With his experience in the Navy, Poasa is familiar with the problems and hardships affecting Pacific Islander students. A staunch proponent and supporter of programs designed to address educational and opportunity inequities for PI students and their families. Poasa co-founded of Voices of the Pacific Island Nations (VOPIN) and serves as the Board Chairman. Poasa stays active in various local organizations. He is a member of the Kitsap Strong Steering Committee, serves as the Chairman of the St. Peter Chanel Samoan community, and Advisor to Tama Fanau Leone Washington (TFLWA). Poasa is a Qualified Samoan Interpreter to the Court system in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho.
"Afio mai (Welcome)" to the Voices of the Pacific Island Nations! A musician at heart, Poasa enjoys entertaining the residents of convalescent homes in the greater Kitsap and Pierce Counties. He enjoys reading and telling stories of his growing up in Samoa. Poasa loves to share his Samoan heritage, culture, and the “alofa” spirit.
Dr. Joy Lile
Joy Lile is originally from Columbia, Missouri, and moved to Washington State to attend Evergreen State College. She is married to Mathew Morgan, and along the way, Joy obtained a Master's and a Doctoral in Human Development and Family Studies from Oregon State University. Dr. Lile is a qualitative researcher, community and university educator, academic writer, and advocate for communities experiencing racial and economic disparities.
Dr. Joy Lile is currently a Community Prevention Specialist at the Washington Department of Children, Youth, and Families, supporting and strengthening families to prevent child maltreatment and foster care entry. Dr. Lile's expertise in participatory research and passion for racial equity and social justice drew her to the work of VOPIN. In 2017, she developed and implemented the "Tofasaili (to study closely)" community survey on how to best support and uplift PI students and families in Puget Sound. The fantastic work relationship between Dr. Lile and VOPIN has made the PI community more relevant in the discussions on educational and opportunity inequities. Dr. Lile is VOPIN's Vice-chair and has been on the Board for several years.
She likes to hike and camp in the Olympics in her spare time with her husband and two cats. Dr. Lile also likes to garden and read if she's not busy doing research work.
Born in Vermont and spent her childhood going back and forth between rural Vermont and rural Alaska, Eliza Evans is a champion and advocate for positive youth development, educational justice, and making the world a better place for children. Eliza's vision and passion for educational justice and youth development drew her to the work of VOPIN. She has been an invaluable asset and a blessing in implementing VOPIN's mission and vision.
Eliza is a consultant and a volunteer for VOPIN. She enjoys watching the spark ignite, or the fire grow in children as they realize what they CAN do is beautiful. Eliza graduated from Western Washington University and is the owner of E2 Consulting. "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." – William Butler Yeats.
One of her favorite pastimes is volunteering as an art docent at her favorite elementary school. She also likes to read, dance, paint, garden, hike, and kayak (with son Rowen), to name a few of her many hobbies and skills.
Nica Nakagomi is a volunteer and student board member for VOPIN. She graduated summa cum laude from Virginia Wesleyan University with a bachelor’s degree in communication, and is now pursuing her master’s degree at the University of Washington in Seattle. Born and raised in the Philippines, she came to the United States as an international student. She believes that everyone deserves good quality education, as it is something that sticks with them for the rest of their lives. She is drawn to VOPIN’s mission to empower one of Washington’s most underserved populations through programs designed to connect students to their roots and culture, motivate them to take ownership, and support families in navigating the school system.
In her free time, she enjoys watching funny YouTube commentaries with her spouse, Sean, and their two cats, Kenzo and Silver. She also takes delight in traveling around the country and exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest through food. You can contact her at email@example.com
Sean Nakagomi (Naka)
Naka is a math tutor and volunteer for VOPIN. He is currently an undergraduate student at Seattle University studying actuarial mathematics. Naka is a Navy veteran having spent over 5 years as an electrician, deployed twice in the Arctic Circle and Persian Gulf, and was honorably discharged at the end of 2020. Naka got involved with VOPIN through his wife Nica: another member of the organization. In his earlier years, Naka struggled with math and was behind 2 grades in that subject. Because of this, he does not believe that math is some type of gift that only “math people” have, but rather that it is a skill that is developed and improved with patience, practice, and diligence. Naka wants to give back to the community by helping students break through similar mental barriers he experienced that are often associated with math, allowing for a much more broadened horizon in education and employment.
In his free time, Naka loves spending time with his wife traveling, eating, and working out. He enjoys playing tennis and watching the Seahawks. Naka also enjoys watching the NBA and is currently a Chicago Bulls fan until the Supersonics return to the NBA, which he is hoping will happen very soon.
As a nonprofit organization at the forefront for educational justice and youth development, VOPIN policies uphold the highest legal, ethical, and moral standards. Our donors and volunteers support VOPIN because they trust us to be good stewards of their resources and maintain rigorous standards of conduct. VOPIN will comply with all applicable laws and regulations and expects its directors, officers, and employees to conduct business according to the letter and spirit of all relevant laws--refrain from dishonest or unethical conduct; to act professionally to treat others with respect.
VOPIN is currently recruiting for board members. Serving on a board can be a rewarding experience to learn and experience various Pasefika (Pacific) cultures and history. Our board members must meet specific standards of conduct and attention in carrying out their responsibilities to VOPIN. Click the Board of Directors tab, and it will take you to the application form page. Fa'afetai tele (Thank you) for your time and resources! We appreciate your interest in serving VOPIN as a board member.